The Pragmatics of Refusal: A Study of Parent-Daughter Communication Dynamics in Saudi Arabia




daughter-parent discourse, imposition, parental gender, refusal strategies, Saudi Arabic


This study examines the realization of refusal speech acts by female Saudi Arabic speakers in response to parental requests, focusing on the potential impact of parental gender and request imposition on refusal strategies. Sixty participants from Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University completed a written discourse completion test (DCT) containing six scenarios with varying degrees of imposition (low, medium, high) featuring either a mother or a father. Findings revealed significant variations in refusal strategies directed toward mothers and fathers, influenced by gender expectations and imposition levels. Saudi females predominantly employed the "Excuse, reason, explanation" strategy with both parents but demonstrated distinct strategies in high-imposition request situations when interacting with fathers versus mothers. Females tended to use the "Attempt to dissuade interlocutor" strategy with fathers and the "Statement of alternative" approach with mothers. Furthermore, Saudi daughters were less inclined to use direct refusals when responding to fathers compared to mothers. These findings highlight communication, power, and relationship dynamics within Saudi families, potentially leading to distinct communication patterns and expectations among interlocutors.

Author Biography

Nuha Abdullah Alsmari, Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, KSA.

Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics,

Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, KSA.


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Date of Publication

2023-10-05 — Updated on 2024-01-02

How to Cite

Alsmari, N. A. (2024). The Pragmatics of Refusal: A Study of Parent-Daughter Communication Dynamics in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of Arabic-English Studies, 24(1), 225–246.



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