“A friend in need is a friend indeed”: The case of refusing a friend’s invitation in Iraqi Arabic dialect

  • ArkanAbdulhasan Nassar, Norma Saad ,NurRasyidahMohd Nordin


The present study examines invitation refusal realization patterns among Iraqi Arabs who speak Arabic as a native language and Iraqi Kurds who speak Arabic as a second language in Iraqi Arabic dialect. A modified version of an open-ended Written Discourse Completion Task was employed to collect the data involving three situations in which the participants refused an invitation made by an equal status person who had a close, familiar, and distant social distance with the hearer. The obtained data were analysed descriptively based on Beebe, Takahashi, and Uliss-Weltz’s  (1990) categorisation of semantic formulas. The main findings revealed that indirectness category was a prominent pattern among both groups as they both used indirect refusal and adjuncts more than direct ones across the three levels of social distance, i.e., close, familiar, and distant. However, the directness category was employed more by Iraqi Kurds compared to Iraq Arabs who adopted it less frequently. Iraqi Arabs employed excuse as the most frequent strategy in refusing a close and distant person's invitation, while they employed regret/apology as the most preferred strategy used in declining a familiar person's invitation. Conversely, Iraqi Kurds adopted regret/apology as the most frequent strategy in refusing interlocutors of close social distance, while in refusing familiar and distant interlocutors, they employed excuse as the most frequent strategy. Adjuncts were also used differently among the two groups. Gratitude was the dominant strategy across three situations by Iraqi Kurds, however, Iraqi Arabs employed it frequently only when refusing invitations of a distant social distance interlocutors. Well-wishing was used most frequently by Iraqi Arabs in declining interlocutors of close and familiar social distance. The difference was not only in the patterns they employed but also in the content of these patterns. Iraqi Arabs’ preference was to use clear and specific excuse across the three situations, on the other hand, Iraqi Kurds favoured general and vague excuses. Likewise, expressions of regret were used more by Iraqi Kurds compared to Iraqi Arabs who preferred using expressions of apology. Postponement,defining the relation, praising the speaker,sense of loss,showing solidarity,and blaming were only employed by Iraqi Arabs, while flat “no”, unspecific/indefinite reply, set condition for future/past acceptance and return the invitation were only employed by Iraqi Kurds. Interestingly, recompensingand taking permission to leave were a new category of the semantic formulas used by only Iraqi Arabs which was not included in Beebe et al. (1990) classification nor in other researchers’ investigations. It is hoped that the results of this study provide a better understanding of the patterns and consequently creating awareness among Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds which would refuse any possible misunderstanding in any possible interaction. Based on these results, teachers could also develop their student’s pragmatic competence in order to void any possible pragmatic failure in any possible communication among the two groups. 

How to Cite
ArkanAbdulhasan Nassar, Norma Saad ,NurRasyidahMohd Nordin. (2020). “A friend in need is a friend indeed”: The case of refusing a friend’s invitation in Iraqi Arabic dialect. International Journal of Advanced Science and Technology, 29(6s), 659 - 677. Retrieved from http://sersc.org/journals/index.php/IJAST/article/view/8888