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The Persian Taarof Comprehension Test

School of Continuing Education Resident Program at Ft. Ord Persian Department Intermediate/Advanced Program

Research Proposal developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat, M.A. Fall 2004 ED440 Educational Research Method Mentoring Professor: Jean Turner, Ph.D.

Monterey Institute of International Studies

or praises someone’s statement. Ord – Persian Department in Monterey. 140). for several years and writes about the nature of expression in the Persian/Farsi language and its relationship to general semantic theory.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 2 The Persian Taarof Comprehension Test Abstract This study will investigate the effect of two different types of explicit and implicit instruction on speech production of taarof (form of compliment). this could have important implications on relevant strategies for language instruction at the School of Continuing Education Resident Program (SCERP) at Ft. The participants are the American military learners of the Persian/Farsi 1 language. in both 1 The Persian/Farsi language is spoken in Iran and is used to differentiate from the Persian/Dari language spoken in Afghanistan. Iranians exchange phrases of taarof in all levels of daily interaction. The mean of performance scores will be compared between the groups at the beginning of the study (pretest) and three months later (posttest) using a Case II Independent Sample t-test to determine if there is a significant difference between the two classes. which is to indicate lower status for oneself while elevating the status of the person being addressed (p. whose members will receive explicit instruction of taarof. . The primary focus is to investigate whether the explicit instruction of taarof has an effect in developing a higher level of perception of taarof so students can use the exchanges of taarof more frequently in daily speech with native speakers. California. Beeman lived in Shiraz. one gives a compliment to someone’s good deed. I will measure the data collected from two sections of the advanced level: one is the experimental. the other section is the control group. whose members will learn about the concept implicitly. a concept relating to speech act theory. If a significant difference is found between the groups. Iran. Introduction Taarof generally means to pay respect to someone and is counted as social etiquette. Students’ performance will be measured by a researcher-designed rating scale that was adapted from previous studies. admires someone’s elegant clothing. Beeman (1986) writes that taarof refers to the most common principle in interpersonal interaction in Iran. In this study. Behaviorally. Understanding the concept of taarof in the Persian language is important. for intermediate and advanced students.

portrays the intention of the speaker. The speech act related to the concept of taarof in the Persian/Farsi language is used in formal and informal social interactions. 2) the intention of the speaker. or locution. The locution of exchanges of taarof might vary depending on the illocutionary intent and its perlocution. Finegan’s theory (1999) of speech act explains that the linguistic meaning. The effect of the act on the hearer is called perlocution. meaning “you have the choice. This means a word or phrase isolated from its socio-cultural context may lead to linguistic curiosities if phrases or words do not achieve their communicative purposes. and 3) the effect of the act. For several decades.” One . second language researchers and teachers find that speech act behavior constitutes an area of continual concern. and social gatherings. Cohen (1996) gives an example of the phrase “Sorry about that” and explains the phrase may serve as an adequate apology in some situations and in other situations it may not even be intended as an apology. offices. even manipulative. or illocution. In regards to speech act theory. when the phrase ekhtiar darin.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 3 formal and informal settings such as the market places. sociolinguistics (the study of language in culture and behavior) has been defining and researching what has been called speech act theory. For example. The locution of exchanges of taarof can change depending on who offers taarof and whether the offer is sincere ( samimaneh) or deceitful (chaploosaneh).” is offered after someone mocks oneself with “Am I crazy?” the intent of the response ekhtiar darin is taarof: The hearer may not know whether the answer means “Yes. you are not crazy. The speech act is defined as units related to sociolinguistic competence conveying specific meaning. Given this reality. The concept of taarof can be described in three important components relating to speech act theory: 1) the social meaning. restaurants. you are crazy” or “No.

“People in Iran have been exceptionally friendly and fulsome in their praise for the United States.” Shirazi non-apologetically states that “Iranians often make polite. the Turks. Foreigners seem to unwittingly indulge in taarof they receive (p. such phenomenon can be taught explicitly in the classroom to enable students to differentiate among the various meanings of taarof and the settings in which . 1). and Zoroastrians.” In the above example. Taarof is sometimes sincere but there are times that these phrases are used as “empty offers. depending on who offers it. and often for President Bush as well … the police were apologetic even when I was detained a couple of days ago in the city of Isfahan… (p. an American visitor in Iran.” A good example of the sociolinguistic meaning of the “empty offer” of taarof exchanged in the Iranian bazaar is explained by Roozbeh Shirazi. the Kurds. Shirazi gives a historical definition of the offer of taarof in response to what Kristof writes stating. Jews. The native Persian would be aware that the meaning might vary in context. as well as among the religious groups of Muslims. Kristof is evident. but empty offers to appease their guests in order not to offend them. This illustrates the need to comprehend the socio-linguistic meaning and the concept of taarof when learning Persian/Farsi. In fact. and the Gilakies. One can implicitly hear the taarof or use it in an inappropriate setting without comprehending the imbedded meaning.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 4 has to decide on the positive or negative connotation individually. Christians. Shirazi responds to a New York Times article written by Nicholas Kristof. the misunderstanding of the concept of taarof explained by Mr. the Baluchies. The exchange of taarof is significantly prevalent within the Persian culture in almost all diverse regions among ethnic groups such as the Persians. an Iranian-American student at Columbia University in New York. 1).

and using taarof at the end of the explicit instruction (treatment). The independent variable in this study is the explicit instruction of taarof and the dependent variable is the ability to use taarof in spoken language. this could have important implications for relevant language instruction strategies used with higher level students in the Persian Department. If a significant difference is found between the groups. The likelihood of such proficiency in understanding taarof is greater if suitable curriculum is devised for the intermediate and advanced classes and if taarof is taught explicitly. This study will take place in the Persian Department .Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 5 taarof should be offered and to determine what meaning it might have (empty or sincere offer) contextually. The alternative hypothesis states that there is a statistically significant difference between the two groups in terms of perceiving and using taarof in daily speech (H1: X1=X2). or to understand the imbedded meaning when they hear it. In this study. The null hypothesis states that there is no statistically significant difference between the group whose members receive explicit instruction of taarof and the one who does not (HO: X1=X2). but they will hear the exchanges of taarof in conversations. understanding. the explicit teaching of taarof could help L2 learners of Persian/Farsi to use taarof appropriately in their speech. The students in the experimental group will have explicit instruction of taarof for two weeks. which in this study is called implicit learning of taarof. Therefore. the research question is whether there are statistically significant differences between the two groups in perceiving. Methods Participants: The participants are male and female American students learning Persian/Farsi at the advanced level. The students in the control group will not have explicit instruction of taarof.

written concepts by the four course instructors raised in different regions of Iran have been included. Tehran. documentary videos (dialogues between pairs and groups). Materials: There are six students in the experimental group. and usage written by Iranian-American linguists who are teaching at universities in the United States. Since taarof is a concept that might vary—reflecting geographical and age group diversity from region to region—it is important for the students to read diverse samples of the concept of taarof. The experimental group G1 (advanced) will have explicit instruction on taarof. written by Iranians residing in Iran. (The curriculum has already been taught. the control group G2 (advanced) will not have explicit instruction on taarof. In the same manner. and one instructor is between the ages of 40 and 60. and Rasht. As part of the curriculum. writing. and two movies. articles. Several additional concepts and discussions from Iranian- . several definitions and articles. several research papers were also included. only implicit instruction. written concepts of taarof by lay people (non-linguists). its definition. randomly assigned to each class (n=12). were selected in Farsi. The instructors are from the cities of Esfahan.) The materials are essays. Conversely. listening. some clearly written Internet articles in English. Therefore. written by non-linguist IranianAmericans living outside of Iran. The research papers are regarding taarof. Shiraz. The class will consist of six students each. and translation classes which are taught explicitly after the third month of the nine-month session. The instruction (treatment) will be conducted over two consecutive weeks. research papers.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 6 in the School of Continuing Education Resident Program (SCERP). were randomly selected. in addition to implicit learning of taarof. Three of them are over 60. The instruction is developed for the speaking. In the curriculum.

other cities in Iran. All students in both sections will hear exchanges of taarof in their listening classes. exchanging phrases of taarof. in the last 15 years. as part of the routine curriculum at the School of Continuing Education Resident (SCER) program. Other social settings are the Persian markets and restaurants in San Jose.100). Instructional procedure: The instruction is designed for two hours each day for two weeks. The immersion program at the SCER is defined as a program in which learners participate in group gatherings with native speakers to converse in the target language and function socially with them. For evaluation purposes. a traditional Persian spa. Persian homes. research in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) has helped to provide empirical descriptions of a speech act set. radio and TV stations. students’ output in the target language is assessed by instructors when they participate in an immersion program.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 7 Americans residing in the United States who are not teachers were also selected. traditional Persian restaurants. Curriculum adaptation: Cohen (1996) explains that speech acts have been defined and researched since the 1960s. refusals. referring to “The Three Ps”: Presentation. The immersion program. The same instructor will teach both the experimental advanced class and the control group. and Production (p. Mashhad. They will also interact with instructors and each other in speaking classes. where students visit Persian clubs. But. These sets are used so . Larsen-Freeman (2003) discusses the process of language acquisition. Practice. is arranged so that students can interact with native speakers invited from outside who may or may not be teachers. and expressions of gratitude. complaints. They were raised in Kerman. bookstores. and Persian grocery shops. and Mahan. These immersion gatherings consist of cooking classes at the department and a week-long field trip to Los Angeles. such as apologies.

10 categorical situations of taarof with proper exchanges for instruction were developed. For testing. Giving birth 8. Complimenting 7. The achievement test questions are selected from the questions used in class when the curriculum is taught during the two weeks of instruction.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 8 that teachers can apply various strategies for teaching purposes. In this study. Within each task. etc. are used for pre. the students study the 10 categories of speech act sets and appropriate exchanges with variety of activities. . As a result. Cohen’s (1996) method for collecting speech act data can be used to collect similar type of data for Persian taarof measurements. Invitations 3. Greetings 2. Receiving guest(s) 4. Consequently. Students also carry out research on the Internet. there are examples used called “appropriate use of taarof.” “discourse completion of taarof. Among the activities for testing. it was decided to create similar sets for teaching purposes called “the appropriate exchanges of taarof (perception of speech act sets)”. Receiving non-invited guest(s) 9. There are also sets of exchanges (responses) appropriate for each setting: 1. The categories of taarof mentioned here are examples of the exchanges taught for the following settings. Shopping 5. with slight alterations.and posttests.” and “role play using taarof” adapting Cohen’s method. Fifty questions were developed and taught during the treatment session. some of the same questions. Traveling 6. Formal receptions. New Year’s celebrations (Noruz) 10. listening. The tasks are designed with questions specific to speaking. and reading. strategies for performing a speech act can be taught explicitly.

the correct response is number one. Students watch movies and complete follow-up activities about the exchanges of taarof they observed.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 9 exploring other articles about taarof on their own. The example of the scenario for the appropriate exchange of taarof would be as follows: The scenario: At a social gathering at a friend’s house you are forced to sit behind someone else. the examples will not be translated into English since the meaning would be altered. The method of teaching and testing is adapted from Cohen’s study.” 2 Since this study can only be used by the Persian language department at DLI or any other Persian language institution.2 The examples in this study are from the curriculum developed for this study by the author at the DLI. S/he would say: bebakhshid poshtam be shomas! Which response is correct? 1) 2) 3) 4) gol posht o ru nadare ghabeli nadare khaste nabashid ma doostim eibi nadare The culturally proper exchanges would consist of a native-like response selected by the student. and the role play of taarof are as follow: The appropriate exchanges of taarof (perception of speech act sets): For this activity. The literal translation is “A flower does not have front and back. scenarios are developed followed by four possible responses from the 10 categories. The examples of the appropriate exchanges of taarof. discourse completion of taarof. The person in front of you. out of respect. apologizes for being in front of you and having his/her back to you. . In the above scenario. Each scenario is taught with appropriate sets of exchanges during the treatment session and has five points.

a conversation between two colleagues (A & B) is heard.00 (U.900. are bargaining in Farsi. the dialogues from at least 25 model dialogues performed by native speakers were chosen for the listening curriculum.S. . currency is accepted in Iran). He should try to bargain and buy the rug for $2. The phrase Ekhtiar darin is simply expressed out of respect depending on the intonation (the offer is sometimes sincere or deceitful).”) Explain the meaning of this taarof: _____________________________________ The correct response: By using the statement. The Role Play of taarof: An example of the role play used both for treatment and testing using taarof is as follows: The scenario of the role play: You are in the Tehran Bazaar.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 10 Discourse Completion of taarof: To practice the model dialogue of discourse. you are neither affirming nor denying the truth of the original statement. Do you think I am crazy? B: Ekhtiar darin! (Literally means. He may or may not be crazy in the speaker’s opinion. Daryoush wants to buy a Persian (Kerman) rug.000. 3 American students in the DLI’s Persian/Farsi program are given Farsi names in the classroom. Ekhtiar darin. The situation: A is a difficult man to get along with and he tells B how he has heard that some people have claimed he is crazy. an American buyer who is familiar with the taarof and the culture of Iran. Both the seller and the buyer should use the popular taarof negotiation. “You have the choice.00. These exchanges are rehearsed in the listening class. an Iranian merchant. and Daryoush (male Farsi name). The Dialogue: A: I heard X said that I am crazy. Jahan 3 (male Farsi name). where the asking price is $3. In the following situation.

This can be done orally..( ) Test Design: Cohen (1996) recommends diagnostic assessment to determine the students’ level of awareness of speech acts in general and of the particular speech act to be taught. These strategies taught in the class will be tested with the following points: ...( ) * ‫صد سال به این سالها‬. in writing... using the common taarof..Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 11 Zaleh (female Farsi name) works for Jahan and should welcome the buyer by bringing tea and encourage the buyer to make the purchase by commenting “this is the last piece. ( ) * ‫ پیش کش‬.. 1983). where each of these patterns would be recognized as the speech acts in question when uttered in the appropriate context.. Select the appropriate exchanges for the setting above.. * ‫مستفیض فرمودید‬.. ( ) * ‫ قابلی نداره‬. but we are going to revolutionize and bring about some cultural change).( ) * ‫ قدم نو رسیده مبارک‬.. The following phrases are the usual exchanges of taarof.. (In reality.” etc.. A set of strategies is referred to as the speech act set (Olshtain & Cohen... ( ) * ‫ صاحبش قابله‬.. ( ) * ‫بفرمایید – نوش جان‬. Students must choose the form that should be used when purchasing something in the above setting by placing a checkmark in the parentheses () next to it. ( ) * ‫ز تعارف کم کن و بر مبلغ افزا‬. it would be odd for a woman to work in a bazaar.. A list of mixed sets of taarof exchanges for different situations is given in Farsi. or through a combination of both. SLA researchers have arrived at the set of realization patterns typically used by native speakers of the target language.

There should be at least five exchanges used. For the model dialogue of discourse. student’s production (use of taarof) after receiving explicit and implicit instruction or only implicit instruction is assessed. The example would be similar to those in the instructional and material section. One role play is given and each proper utterance of taarof exchange is worth 5 points. 2. 3. and d) a posttest. called The Persian Taarof Comprehension Test (TPTCT). (TPTCT) Ordina l Score A.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 12 A 100 point scale. has been developed. This way. C 1. The test consists of: Interval scores: 100-90 = A. and 80-70 = C Discourse Role Total (Perception of speech act sets) Completion Play Scores Task 50 points 25 points 25 100 points points The appropriate exchanges The Persian Taarof Comprehension Test. 90-80 = B. c) a treatment of explicit instruction of taarof. Five discourse scenarios carry 5 points each. b) a pretest. a . with 50 points total possible. Ten multiple choice questions of perception of taarof speech act sets are selected. with 25 points total possible. with 25 points total possible. The examples are selected from those studied in the treatment session. B. The design will be: G1 (intact) O1 T O2 G2 (intact) O1 – O2 The students will be given the pretest to examine their prior knowledge of taarof speech act behavior. Each correct response carries 5 points. Procedures: This is a quasi-experimental design with a) the control group. Both groups will be given the posttest at the end of the term. considering that one group received explicit instruction of taarof and one group did not. the dialogues from at least 25 model dialogues which were studied during the sessions will be chosen for the test with slight alteration. Analysis: In order to investigate the differences between the mean taarof pretest and posttest scores of the control group and the experimental group who receives treatment.

This can be determined by plotting the data after they are collected. . Discussion: One potential threat to internal validity in this study is the authenticity of the teaching material. these squared values (called the variances) should be approximately equal. Ragin C. from one to several handfuls (p. which in this study is the TPTCT scale (an interval nature device). If there is a significant difference between the groups. If the standard deviation is squared for each group. we learn how much the difference in achievement between the two groups can be explained by giving explicit instruction for taarof. since there are no empirical studies done regarding the concept of taarof. Consequently. if a significant difference is found between the groups. The other potential threat is that the curriculum might only be used by Persian/Farsi instructors and Persian schools at the higher level. This way. this could have important implications in relevant strategies for language instruction in the Persian Department for higher level students in particular for speech proficiency.05.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 13 Case II Independent Sample t-test can be used to compare the averages of both the pretest and posttest. However. The alpha is set at p=. because this is exploratory research. meaningfulness will be determined by calculating eta squared (eta2). (1996) defines that the qualitative researchers typically use a small number of cases. In using the t-test. the author is currently collecting data for qualitative analysis. The dependent variable must be normally distributed for both groups. there are several assumptions that must be considered: • • • • The independent variable must be nominal and have two levels: The class with explicit instruction and the control group (the independent samples). 136) based on scientific ratings of the social research method. The dependent variable must be interval.

A. and Power in Iran. The Research Manual: Design and Statistics for Applied Linguistics. 5 (3) 196-213. (2004). University of Southern Californian. Hornberger. Hatch. & Olshtain. Ragin. (1987). (http://www. Language. Finigan. D. E. Applied Linguistics. (1986).iranian. M. Speech Acts: Sociolinguistics and Language Teaching. S. (1996). Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural development. O. S. Larsen-Freeman. Shirazi.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 14 References Beeman. (2002). & Lazaraton. Cohen. (2003).html). New York. Request and Apologies: A cross-cultural study of speech act realization patterns (CCSARP). W.. M. Indiana University Press: Bloomington. J. R. D. Cambridge University Press. 8 (3). California. New York. E. A. Teaching Language: From grammar to grammaring. Language: Its Instruction and Use. Cambridge University Press. Molavi. Brown. That arrogant reporter. Blum-Kulka. E. (Eds. Understanding Research in Second Language Learning. MA: Thomson – Heinle. William. University of California. Constructing Social Research: The Unity and Diversity of Method. McKay. Retrieved December 10. Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys across Iran. Northwestern University. W. 2004. Acknowledgement . E. (1984). A. Thousand Oaks. Work consulted Day. (1991). Boston. Status. 337-260. (2003). & Shapson. D. (1999). C. (1994). Norton & Assessment of oral communication skills in early French immersion programmes.

writing the scope and sequence of the curriculum. Kimberly Svetich-will. Editor at the Curriculum Development. Robert Kohls. Germany. sound paper. Dean of the School of Continuing Education asked me to develop a curriculum and write class activity regarding the concept of taarof.Research Proposal: Explicit Instruction for taarof Developed by: Fatima Farideh Nejat 15 I want to thank many people for their help with this project: • Dr. Iranian Linguist professor at the Texas A&M University sent me her paper on taarof. Zohreh Eslami-Rasekh. Jean published my project paper on line and I received valuable data from the readers. Ex-professor at Monterey Institute for International Studies reviewed the paper. She patiently listened to my description of the concept and gave valuable feedback to write the concept as clear as possible so that the English speaker audience of both linguist and none linguists can comprehend. Defense Language Institute. I like to thank him for the confidence he showed in me by encouraging me and teaching clearly the tools one needs to learn to write a well rounded. my Education Research professor at Monterey Institute for International Studies who taught me how to do educational research. and other contributors: • • • Diane Williams. Dr. She provided several other papers by the Iranian linguists on the concept of the Persian taarof. Relatives. Editor of the Iranian. reviewed the paper. Jahanshah Javid. . collecting data. Iranian fellow citizens around the world who gave me their concept of taarof. Dr. Monika Ihlenfeld. and teaching the concept. developing class activities. • • • I would also like to thank the reviewers of this paper. Dr. my Applied Linguistic for writing professor gave valuable feedback and taught the step by step processes of research paper writing. She presented her paper at the First International Conference on Aspects of Iranian Linguistics in Leipzig. Her request was the inception of this great project that I delved into and began conducting research.