||Expressing gratitude has a significant function in societal interaction. As Eisenstein and Bodman (1993) suggested, only when the function of gratitude is expressed appropriately can it “engender feelings of warmth and solidarity among interlocutors” (p.167). However, compared with other widely discussed speech acts such as apology and request, the speech act of expressions of gratitude seldom drew researchers’ attention. The present study hence focuses on investigating EFL (English as foreign language) learners’ behavior in realizing expressions of gratitude on the basis of cross-cultural comparison of NS-Cs (Native speakers of Chinese) and NS-Es (Native speakers of English) in terms of perception and production performances.|
Data used for analysis cover 60 NS-E, 60 NS-C, and 60 EFL speakers’ data elicited from Discourse-Completion-Task (DCT) questionnaire which consisted of 24 scenarios in which four contextual factors, comprising social distance, social status, gender of interlocutor and severity of the situation were embedded. Scale-Response questionnaire (SRQ) was designed to obtain two cultural groups’ perception in terms of degree of imposition, degree of gratefulness, and likelihood of the expectation of benefactors. The EFL group was further categorized into two groups on the basis of proficiency level. Among each group, the number of male and female participants was even. The result of SRQ shows that both cultural groups generated the same tendency, that is, the greater imposition the informant felt s/he caused to the benefactor, the more grateful s/he felt and the more likely s/he thought the benefactor would expect receiving expressions of gratitude. NS-Es’ perceptions on the likelihood of gratitude expectation and degree of imposition were significantly higher than NS-C group’s. In terms of the contextual factors, NS-C participants were found to be more sensitive to relative social status while NS-E participants were more sensitive to relative social distance. The analysis of DCT data shows that NS-Cs and NS-Es generated similar strategies in gratitude-provoking situations and NS-E group generated greater amount of strategy use. Both groups generated more strategies and lengthier utterances in situations bearing greater imposition. EFL groups were found to generate similar strategy uses as the two cultural groups did. Accordingly, the occurrence of negative sociopragmatic transfer was rare while negative pragmalinguistic transfer was more observable. Some linguistic properties of transfer reflected the cultural orientation. Instead of pragmatic performance, proficiency level seemed to be influential in linguistic accuracy, amount of strategy use and length of utterances. The limitation of the study suggests future study conduct on natural utterances, oral DCT, introspective interview with the informants and further discussion on role-play data to get a more comprehensive understanding of the behavior of expressions of gratitude realized by NS-Cs, NS-Es and EFL learners.