|Author(s)||Saad Al-Gahtani, Carsten Roever|
|Title||Preference structure in L2 Arabic requests|
|Tag(s)||Preference, Requests, EMCA, Arabic, Applied|
Preference structure is a fundamental organizational principle of talk, and research has shown that preferred actions tend to be done immediately and without mitigation whereas dispreference is indicated by delays, elaboration, hesitation, and mitigation. However, little research exists on how second language learners do preference and dispreference. In this study, we investigate how 67 learners of Arabic at four proficiency levels managed preference structure in requests and how their management of preference changed over a five-month period. We found a strong increase in the use of preliminary moves with proficiency level, and also greater occurrence of preliminary moves over the five-month period among lower-level learners. Absence of clear dispreference marking with lower-proficiency learners led to repair sequences, and only high-proficiency learners used multiple preliminary moves. Offers by the interlocutor were rare and limited to interactions with high-proficiency learners. We conclude that interactions involving second language learners can be affected by the learners' developing L2 proficiency, which limits their ability to carry out social actions in a conventional way in the target language.