Australian English Requests

(Blum-Kulka & Olshtain, 1984)

In comparison to American English, Hebrew, Canadian French, and Argentinean English requests, Australian English has been found the least direct (although this does not mean that Australian English speakers are more polite than the rest). If conventionally and unconventionally indirect strategies are combined, the level of indirectness in Australian English reaches 90%. Australian English speakers tend to opt for highly scripted, routinized requestive behavior. The majority of the requests take the form of could you, would you, or would you mind doing X:

  • Would you please clean up the mess you’ve made?
  • Excuse me, I was wondering whether you could give me a lift?

Australian English speakers are also found to use downgraders more often than Canadian French, Hebrew, and Argentinean Spanish speakers:

  • Could I please borrow your notes from yesterday?
  • I was wondering if you could possibly present your paper next week, instead of the week after?
  • Do you think you could help me clean this mess up?

Above passages from Blum-Kulka & Olshtain (1984), pp. 202-204.



Blum-Kulka, S., & Olshtain, E. (1984). Requests and apologies: A cross-cultural study of speech act realization patterns (CCSARP). Applied Linguistics, 5(3), 196-213.


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