Oraby, Khaled (2020) The Sociopragmatics of Invitation and Offering Practices in Jordanian Arabic. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

In this study offering and invitation conventionalized practices taking place in naturally-occurring encounters in Jordanian culture are investigated. The sociolinguistic and pragmatic phenomena involved in these routine occurrences are studied utilizing mainly the discursive approach and processed via ritual-oriented binoculars. More accurately, the study in hand adopts a blended view of politeness, which emphasizes the role of cross-contextual variables, participants’ view as well as the most agreed-upon concepts of speech act, face and politeness theories over the last three decades. The three major aspects of both genuine and ostensible inviting/offering have been examined: inviting/offering, accepting an invitation and offer and refusing them.

The study is meant to fill an important knowledge gap by providing a sociopragmatic conceptualization of spontaneous invitations and offers in Arab culture in general and Jordanian culture in particular. Besides, it attempts to shed light on the processes, aspects and structures manifested in making invitations and/or offers, and accepting or refusing them in Jordanian Arabic (JA). More generally, it aims at raising the pragmatic awareness and improving mutual understanding among Arabs and also between Arabs and non-Arabs by highlighting some pragmatic competence in everyday communication.

In order to achieve the study goals, the immediate observation of these natural encounters, where the researcher - in about half of the encounters - holds the participant and observer status, has been adopted in gathering data. The other half of the data was collected from my brother, friends and friends of friends at multiple social settings. All the data gathered come from people in my own social milieu and they included various face-to face, telephone or WhatsApp naturally-occurring conversations performed by people of various ages, genders, statuses and relationships.

The data encompassing these natural offering and invitation practices have been qualitatively and quantitatively analysed. About one third (17 out of 48) of the data has been qualitatively analysed based on a discursive ritual-oriented approach. Various intersecting practices of relational networks have been subject to a ‘microscopic’ examination in this collectivist high-context culture. More specifically, the multiple normative contextual factors, sequencing of interactional moves, and conventionalized practices have been examined in an attempt to identify the general patterns of behaviour salient in Jordanian culture.

In addition, the most frequent linguistic tactics used by Jordanian interactants in performing, accepting, and declining offers manifested in these exchanges have been quantitatively investigated. All the collected naturally-occurring data (i.e. 48 encounters) were classified into 4 different categories (namely: 12 genuine invitations, 12 ostensible invitations, 12 genuine offers and 12 ostensible offers). The linguistic tactics employed in extending, accepting, or declining both genuine and ostensible invitations and offers by Jordanians were statistically computed utilizing SPSS software. The numbers and percentages obtained were later tabulated in an attempt to eventually come out with significant ratios about Jordanians’ most frequent linguistic tactics when issuing or responding to invitations and/or offers. One theoretical contribution that this study offers is that it distinguishes between the terms ‘invitation’ and ‘offer’ although the two terms have been often used interchangeably by pragmatists. It also attempts to differentiate between genuine and ostensible invitations, offers and refusals. Furthermore, it identifies the typical trajectory patterns of the invitation sequences in Jordanian culture.

It has been found that the behaviour of invitations and offers in Jordanian culture has several peculiar features. First, these invitations and offers are both patterned and ‘seesaw’ balanced. It has been observed that both opposing procedures of insistence and resistance have to adhere to a paradigm of common acts, reactions, and structuring of word strings. Second, invitation sequences in Jordan often have a tripartite structure, where the inviter is expected to make three invitations to the invitee before one of them concedes to the other’s desire. Third, these invitations are usually gradually staged and streamlined in terms of both form and structure. Fourth, a typical invitation in Jordan is driven by strict social rubrics that are generally anticipated and governed by ritualised norms. Finally, the tactics utilized frequently index religious themes or ritual-oriented entities. Some of these tactics are classified in this study as supplication, stock blessing, ritualised compliment, plea refutation, oath taking, stock justification, formulaic plead, minimisation, motivation, intimidation. It is hoped that the findings and methodology of this study can lead to a more systematic theory tackling patterns of invitations and offers in Arab countries in general.

FINAL THESIS - Oraby.pdf - Accepted Version
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