Apology Strategies in High vs. Low Context cultures




Aleassa, Lana

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Apologies play a crucial role in interpersonal relationships, However, (Blum-Kulka and Olshtain, 1987) mention that culture and the power between the apologizer and the person who was offended can affect the production of apologies. Thus, the present study investigates the impact of culture on apology strategies by comparing high and low context cultures, specifically Jordan and Canada, respectively. The research sample comprises 40 undergraduate students, with 20 Jordanian native Arabic speakers and 20 Canadian native English speakers. Data collection involved a written discourse competition questionnaire, which presented nine hypothetical apologetic scenarios, each representing different power dynamics between the apologizer and the offended party (high, equal, and low power). The questionnaire was translated into Arabic for Jordanian participants and distributed in English for the Canadian participants. Coding and analysis of the data employed frequencies and percentages to identify and quantify the usage of apology strategies by each cultural group. Furthermore, a chi-square test was conducted to examine differences in apology strategies between Jordanians and Canadians across high, low, and equal power relationships. The findings reveal that both cultural groups utilized six apology strategies, namely illocutionary force indicating device, promise of forbearance, offer of repair, explanation, concern for the hearer, and assessment of responsibility. Canadians exhibited consistent usage of apologies regardless of the power dynamics, which suggests that power did not affect how Canadians apologized. In contrast, Jordanians employed a significantly higher number of strategies when the person who was offended held a high-ranking position, but no differences were noticed when the addressee was in an equal or low-ranking position, which suggests that power affected how Jordanians apologized. Additionally, Jordanians used significantly more apology strategies compared to Canadians when apologizing to a person in a high-ranking position. On the other hand, Canadians used significantly more apology strategies when the person who was offended was at an equal or low power ranking position. The findings of the study were explained using the characteristics of high and low context cultures.



Pragmatics, Apology strategies, Cultures, Power distance