Alerters in Malay and English Speech Act of Request: A Contrastive Pragmatics Analysis

Marlyna Maros, Nurul Syafawani Halim


This study focuses on the speech act of requests, specifically on the alerters. An ‘alerter’ refers to the discourse feature used in initiating a conversation or the getting attention of the hearer. Request as a speech act is much investigated for its Head Acts and Supportive Moves, however, alerter as one of its initial discourse features has not been much looked into. In the context of contrastive pragmatics study on the Malay language in Malaysia, the study of alerters in request has yet to be explored. Hence, the aim of this study is as follows: 1 - to classify the Malay categories of alerters by Malaysian Malay speakers, and 2 – to compare them with alerters in the English language. The participants consist of 400 native speakers’ of Malays from a central city and a rural area, aged between 12 to 56 years old, and varied in social backgrounds. The data was collected via Discourse Completion Task within a span of 3 months, and also coded and analysed using the framework of Cross Cultural Speech Act Realization Project (CCSARP) by Blum-Kulka & Olshtain (1984). The findings revealed 10 categories of alerters by Malay speakers. The findings also indicated similarities and differences in the categories of Malay alerters and English alerters which could be the result of intercultural fusion in the sociopragmatis of doing requests within English, and the languages in Malaysia with the Malay language.


Keywords: Alerters; English Requests; Malay Requests; Sociopragmatics competence; contrastive pragmatics 

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