German Refusals

Germans use different refusal strategies from Americans, the choices of the strategies reflecting distinct characteristics of each culture. The differences include:

  1. Native speakers of German speaking in their first language tend to vary their refusal strategies according to social distance rather than status while native speakers of American English speaking English are likely to depend on status rather than social distance.
  2. Germans might employ fewer categories of refusal strategies (semantic formulas) than Americans.
  3. Germans seem to employ more gratitude and politeness strategies than Americans.
  4. Germans tend to use the avoidance strategy more often than Americans.
  5. German refusals might be less direct and resort to explanations other than their own inclinations. German excuses also tend to be more vague than those given by Americans. (Americans might often use more direct refusals and give their own inclinations as reasons for the refusal.)
  6. Germans sometimes use a third party for their explanations while Americans relied on their own decisions for their explanations.

Above passages from Beckers (1999).



Beckers, A. M. (1999). How to say "no": A study of the refusal strategies of Americans and Germans. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Mississippi, Mississippi.


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