Speech Act Data Collection in a Non-Western Context: Oral and Written DCTs in the Persian Language

Document Type : Original Research Article


1 Associate Professor, Texas A&M University, USA.

2 Assistants Professor, Shahrekord University, Iran.


The present study compares two measures most frequently used to assess pragmatic competence: Written Discourse Completion Tasks (WDCT) and Oral Discourse Completion Tasks (ODCT).  The study focuses on these two speech act data collection methods and explores the validity of using different forms of Discourse Completion Tasks (DCTs) in non-Western contexts. Twenty four Iranian university students responded to both measures eliciting requestive speech acts. The response length, range and content of the expressions, formality level, and spoken vs. written language forms were analyzed. The findings show that the two measures elicit different production samples from the students. ODCTs induced longer, more elaborate responses, and more linguistic forms representing spoken variety of the language than WDCTs. These differences appear to be caused by the oral mode of ODCTs. In WDCTs students mixed different styles (spoken and written) and used both formal and informal linguistic devices in one situation. Our findings indicate that WDCTs may be inappropriate for collecting data in Persian language, which has marked differences between spoken and written variety and highly complicated stylistic variations. Studies like this underscore the fact that more work is needed to both extend the range and scope of speech act studies to non-Western languages and refine the methodologies used to measure pragmatic competence.