The Speech Act of Greeting by Saudi Students of English as a Foreign Language

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This study carried out an investigation of the speech act of greeting, as performed by Saudi English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students. It compared greeting speech strategies performed by EFL students in intermediate and advanced levels to analyze if pragmatic transfer was present in their responses. The sample included fifty participants for each of the following four groups—native speakers of English; advanced-level students; intermediate-level students; and native speakers of Arabic—for a total of 200 subjects. Data was collected using the method of a written discourse completion test (DCT). Participants were asked to write what greeting they would use in different real-life situations. American English speakers (AEL) and advanced English speakers (AES) produced more words than intermediate English learners (IEL) and Saudi Arabic speakers (SAS). The results showed that there were strategies both native speakers shared. Pragmatic transfer was present in both AEL and IEL groups in some situations. The implications of this study are that even though the greeting strategies for AEL and IEL groups were close to those of AES, they still need better understanding of the sociocultural nuances of the English language and to be introduced to new greeting strategies.