The Use of Indirectness Devices in Persian and English Argumentative Written Discourse: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

Ehsan Alijanian, Hossein Vahid Dastjerdi


Speakers of different languages have conventions that are not necessarily shared outside of a particular tradition (Kaplan, 1990). Accordingly, written discourse is dependent on the value systems and cultural beliefs and practices of a particular community (Poole, 1991). Indirectness is considered a universal discoursal strategy but the extent to which it is applied varies from culture to culture. The present study is an attempt to compare the use of six indirectness devices in Persian and English argumentative essays. Thesis statement, rhetorical question, irony, hedges, the passive voice, and conditional tense were the items investigated. The findings indicate that Persian writers made significantly greater use of devices such as thesis statement, irony, hedges, and the passive voice than their English counterparts. The distinction between the two traditions may cause breakdowns in cross-cultural communication of the two groups. Likewise, teachers and students need to be familiar with these norms of discourse organization and thinking patterns.

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email:

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