Discourse-completion task

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A Discourse-Completion Task (DCT) is a tool used in linguistics and pragmatics to elicit particular speech acts. A DCT consists of a one-sided role play containing a situational prompt which a participant will read to elicit the responses of another participant.


The instrument was originally developed by Shoshana Blum-Kulka for studying speech act realization comparatively between native and non-native Hebrew speakers, based on the work of E. Levenston.[1]

DCTs are used in pragmatics research to study speech acts and find the medium between naturally-occurring speech and scripted speech acts. In comparing role-plays to DCTs, role-plays are considered to elicit data more similar to naturally-occurring speech acts,[2][3] yet are considered harder to score, attributed to the influence of the interlocutors.[4]


a discourse-completion task consists of scripted dialogue representing various scenarios, preceded by a short prompt describing the setting and situation.[1] The prompt generally includes information on social distance between participants and pre-event background to aid the participant in constructing the scenarios.


  1. ^ a b Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & G. Kasper. (1989). Investigating cross-cultural pragmatics: An introductory overview. In Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., & G. Kasper (Eds.), Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies (pp. 1-34). Norwood, NJ: Ablex, p. 13-14
  2. ^ Gass, S., & Houck, N. (1999). Interlanguage refusals: a cross-cultural study of Japanese English. Walter de Gruyet, pp. 29
  3. ^ Golato, A. (2003). Studying compliment responses: A comparison of DCTs and recordings of natu- rally occurring talk. Applied Linguistics, 24(1), 90–121.
  4. ^ Roever, C. (2011). Testing of second language pragmatics: Past and future. Language testing (0265-5322), 28 (4), p. 468

Further reading[edit]

Levenston, E. (1975). Aspects of testing the oral proficiency of adult immigrants to Canada. In L. Palmer & B. Spolsky (Eds.), Papers on Language Testing 1967-1974. Washington: TESOL.

See also[edit]