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How Hijazi Men and Women Say “NO”: A Pragmatic and Discourse Analysis Study of the Speech Act of Refusal, Gender and Culture in Saudi Arabia

Almadani, Wjoud (2021) How Hijazi Men and Women Say “NO”: A Pragmatic and Discourse Analysis Study of the Speech Act of Refusal, Gender and Culture in Saudi Arabia. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


This research focuses on the speech act of refusal within ethnically distinct groups in Saudi Arabia. The study explores how men and women in the Afro-Saudi and Arab-Saudi communities in the western region of Saudi Arabia (Hijaz) refuse requests and invitations. This thesis also examined whether social distance and refusing interactions with speakers of the same or opposite gender determine the choice of refusal and the pragmatic markers. Additionally, the researcher assesses the level of difficulty that arises when Arab and African Saudi men and women refuse, and explores how people feel when producing refusals. As well as exploring the content of the refusal strategies, the sociopragmatic reasons behind the Hijazis’ refusals’ behaviour and their attitude towards refusals are also demonstrated. To collect the necessary research data, a mixed-methods approach was selected, combining quantitative and qualitative data collecting methods. The quantitative and qualitative methods are a discourse completion test (DCT) questionnaire and a semi-structured interview. The DCT questionnaire was employed to identify the types of refusal, the pragmatic markers the participants use and to measure the level of difficulty when the Saudi men and women refuse requests and invitations. Meanwhile, semi-structured interviews were used to examine the participants’ refusal behaviour and their attitudes towards direct and indirect refusals and pragmatic markers. The quantitative data showed that Arab and African men and women selected almost the same refusals and pragmatic markers. However, women, regardless of their culture, gave more refusals and pragmatic markers than men, and African men and women provided fewer refusals and pragmatic markers than Arabs. The study also indicated that women are more confident about issuing refusals than men in Hijaz. However, the quantitative data highlights the influence of cultural integration on Arab and African participants’ responses, since their data exhibited similarity in regard the level of difficulty refusing. According to social distance, the participants used more varied types of indirect refusal strategies when they refused relative and friends, and they were more hesitant when it comes to refusing relatives compared to unfamiliar people. With regard to the results for refusing interlocutors of the same or opposite gender, there was no influence on refusals, but a slight impact on pragmatic markers. Also, the quantitative data indicated that all participants found producing refusal to be more difficult with people of the opposite gender more than with those of the same gender in both requests and invitation scenarios. The interview findings gave explanations for the participants’ refusal behaviour and reflect their attitudes towards them. The participants followed certain refusals behaviours due to social, pragmatic and religious reasons.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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Depositing User: Leah Maughan


Item ID: 13374

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Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2021 14:00
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2021 14:15


Author: Wjoud Almadani

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Collections > Theses
Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Media and Communications

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