Invitations in Persian and English: Ostensible or genuine? Academic Article uri icon


  • The present study describes the defining features of Persian genuine and ostensible invitations based on a collection of spontaneous Persian invitations and the results of interview data. The results are compared with the structure of invitations in English reported by Isaacs and Clark (1990). The framework for data collection and data analysis designed by Isaacs and Clark and their results were used in this study. Our results show that the structure of ostensible invitations in Persian is more complex than in English. The features suggested for ostensible invitations in English are present, but these are not sufficient to distinguish ostensible invitations from genuine invitations in Persian. Invitations that meet the criteria for being genuine invitations in English can be classified as ostensible by Persian speakers. In contrast to the claim made by Isaacs and Clark regarding English speakers that "ostensible invitations are rare in most situations" (p. 494), our observations show that Persian speakers use a considerable number of ostensible invitations in their daily activities as a manifestation of ritual politeness (ta'arof). The study concludes that enhancing face (Brown & Levinson 1987) for both interlocutors is the main underlying factor in using ostensible invitations in Persian. In Persian, the speaker, in adhering to societal norms, enhances his/her face as well as that of his/her interlocutor by using ostensible invitations in everyday language. Walter de Gruyter.

published proceedings

  • Intercultural Pragmatics

author list (cited authors)

  • Eslami, Z. R.

citation count

  • 81

complete list of authors

  • Eslami, Zohreh R

publication date

  • January 2005