dissertation: Politeness and Social Interaction in Study Abroad: Service encounters in L2 Spanish

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sun Sep 28 20:07:45 UTC 2008

Politeness and Social Interaction in Study Abroad: Service encounters
in L2 Spanish

Institution: University of Minnesota
Program: Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Rachel L. Shively

Dissertation Title: Politeness and Social Interaction in Study Abroad:
Service encounters in L2 Spanish

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
                            Discourse Analysis
                            Language Acquisition

Subject Language(s): Spanish (spa)

Dissertation Director:
Carol A. Klee

Dissertation Abstract:

This study examines the second language (L2) learning of politeness in
study abroad within a sociocultural and rapport management framework,
reporting on longitudinal, ethnographic research of service encounters
recorded in situ between L2 learners of Spanish and local Spanish service
providers in Toledo, Spain. Service encounters are defined as interactions
between a customer and a service provider in which some commodity will
potentially be exchanged.

The participants in the study were seven U.S. American students who studied
abroad for one semester in Spain during 2007. The data consist of
naturalistic digital recordings that participants made of themselves while
visiting local stores, banks, information desks, and other service
providers. The study was longitudinal with five recordings made at the
beginning, middle, and end of the semester by each student, for 113
recordings total. Other sources of data included students' weekly journals
describing their service encounters and learning of politeness, interviews
with participants and local Spaniards, and the researcher's field notes as
a participant observer.

The findings indicate that, during the semester abroad, participants
learned target language norms of politeness regarding requests, openings,
and discourse markers. These developments over time in L2 politeness were
connected to students' descriptions about how they learned specific
politeness features, namely, through explicit instruction, observation of
Spaniards, participation in service encounters, and reactions of
interlocutors. Learners managed rapport in service encounters through tone
of voice, positive assessments, and other face-enhancing moves.


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