The purpose of this thesis was to find out what were the types of strategies employed by American learners of Arabic as a second language and Egyptian native speakers of Arabic, to perform the speech act of refusal. Also, the present study investigated the similarities and/or the f differences between the most frequent strategies employed by both groups to perform refusals; in addition to investigating the relationship between the social status of the interlocutor and the initiating acts on one hand and the strategies chosen by both groups to perform refusals on the second hand. The study was conducted using 44 subjects; 22 Egyptians and 22 Americans. The Americans were advanced learners of Arabic as a second language from the Center of Arabic Studies Abroad at the American university in Cairo. All the subjects were interviewed by the researcher using an oral version of a Discourse Completion Test made up of eight situations eliciting refusals. The responses of the subjects were then classified according to the taxonomy of refusal strategies developed by Beebe et al. ( 1990). The results revealed that the strategy of reason/excuse/explanation was the most frequent strategy employed by both groups, followed by the strategies of negative willingness / ability and regret. Moreover, both groups used different strategies with interlocutors of higher and lower status, while they used similar strategies with interlocutors of an equal status. Finally, both groups used apparently different strategies in response to invitation, while they used similar ones in response to offers. However, regarding suggestions and requests, they partly shared some strategies such as the use reason/excuse/explanation to respond to the previous acts, while each group exclusively employed some strategies that were very minimally used by the other group, such as the use of guilt trip by Egyptians in response to some requests and the use of avoidance by Americans in response to some suggestions.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Degree Name

MA in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

El Said Badawi

Committee Member 1

El Said Badawi

Committee Member 2

Zeinab Ibrahim

Committee Member 3

Dalal Abou El Seoud

Document Type



145 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Arabic language


The American University in Cairo grants authors of theses and dissertations a maximum embargo period of two years from the date of submission, upon request. After the embargo elapses, these documents are made available publicly. If you are the author of this thesis or dissertation, and would like to request an exceptional extension of the embargo period, please write to thesisadmin@aucegypt.edu

Call Number

Thesis 2005/74