The present study investigated the use of apology response (AR) strategies by L1-Chinese L2-English learners and L1-English L2-Chinese learners from a cross-linguistic perspective. A total of 18 Taiwanese college students who were learning English as a foreign language and 18 foreigners in Taiwan who were learning Chinese as a second language were recruited to complete an oral discourse completion task both in Chinese and English. The major findings are as follows: First, the two groups showed no significant difference in their choice of AR strategies, both favoring Acceptance and Minimization, two face-preserving types, to show politeness. Second, cross-linguistic influence was found to affect our participants’ AR performances. Both positive and negative influences occurred. Finally, regarding the use of multiple strategies, both groups of participants tended to combine Acceptance with other strategies to maintain social relationships. The results showed both language universal and language-specific features in the AR realizations in Chinese and English. The dominant use of positive response strategies, namely Acceptance and Minimization, highlights the profound influence of politeness principles.
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