Indiana University

The Department of Second Language Studies

César Félix-Brasdefer

Photo of César Félix-Brasdefer

Associate Professor of Hispanic Linguistics
Adjunct Associate Professor of Second Language Studies
(812) 855-9551
Global and International Studies Building 2135

Research Interests

  • Cross-cultural and interlanguage pragmatics
  • Politeness theory
  • Speech act theory
  • Conversation analysis
  • Instruction of pragmatics


  • Ph.D. 2002, Hispanic Linguistics, University of Minnesota
  • M.S. 1998, Spanish Linguistics, Georgetown University
  • M.A. 1996, Hispanic Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • B.A. 1992, Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala, México

Personal Statement

My research examines issues of discourse pragmatics, face theory, politeness theory, and the intersection between speech act theory and conversation analysis. I am particularly interested in both politeness as practice and in the scientific conceptualization of politeness as a theoretical construct. I have conducted research on various aspects of cross-cultural pragmatics, comparing the realization patterns of speech acts and interactional patterns among native speakers of Spanish and English. Also, I am interested in sociopragmatic variation in the Spanish-Speaking world which can be examined by means of an analysis of spoken discourse in two or more varieties of Spanish.

I also research different aspects of pragmatics in second language learning, including the realization of speech acts and conversational practices. In this respect, I am interested in the intersection between grammar and discourse pragmatics. For example, I am currently investigating the grammatical resources that second language learners use for the construction of turns and how turns are designed and then put into practice in learner-native speaker interactions. Another related interest is how prosody (e.g., intonation, stress) contributes to pragmatic meaning in conversation. I am currently designing a website that aims at providing a model for the teaching of pragmatics in second and foreign language contexts. The website is based on research in instruction in second language pragmatics and includes on-line activities to equip educators to teach various aspects of pragmatics in the classroom. In addition, the site features a component on pragmatic variation in the Spanish-speaking world and a series of speech acts that will be available in audio. This website will be available in March 2007.


  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. César. (2008). Politeness in Mexico and the United States: A contrastive study of the realization and perception of refusals. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Bardovi-Harlig, Kathleen, Félix-Brasdefer, J. César, Omar, Alwiya. (Eds.) (2006). Pragmatics and Language Learning, vol. 11. Manoa, HI: Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center University of Hawai'i.

Journal Articles

  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (in press). Intra-lingual pragmatic variation in Mexico City and San José, Costa Rica: A focus on regional differences in female requests. Journal of Pragmatics
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2009). Pragmatic variation across Spanish(es): Requesting in Mexican, Costa Rican, and Dominican Spanish. Intercultural Pragmatics, 6(4), 473-515.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2009). Dispreferred responses in interlanguage pragmatics: Refusal sequences in learner-native speaker interactions. Applied Language Learning, Vol. 19 (1-2), 1-27.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2008). Pedagogical intervention and the development of pragmatic competence in learning Spanish as a foreign language. Issues in Applied Linguistics, 16(1), 47-82.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. César. (2008). Teaching Spanish pragmatics in the classroom: Explicit instruction of mitigation. Hispania, 91(2), 477-492.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. César. (2008). Perceptions of refusals to invitations: Exploring the minds of foreign language learners. Language Awareness, 17(3), 195-211.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. César. (2008). Sociopragmatic variation: Dispreferred responses in Mexican and Dominican Spanish. Journal of Politeness Research, 4(1), 81-110.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. César (2007). Natural speech vs. elicited data: A comparison of natural and role play requests in Mexican Spanish. Spanish in Context 4(2): 159-185.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. César (2007). Pragmatic development in the Spanish as a FL classroom: A cross-sectional study of learner requests. Intercultural Pragmatics 4(2): 253-286.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. César (2006). Linguistic politeness in Mexico: Refusal strategies among male speakers of Mexican Spanish. Journal of Pragmatics 38(12): 2158-2187.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J.César (2004). Interlanguage refusals: Linguistic politeness and length of residence in the target community. Language Learning, 54(4), 587-653.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J.César (2003) Declining an invitation: A Cross-Cultural Study of Pragmatic Strategies in Latin American Spanish and American English. Multilingua,22(3): 225-255.

Recent Book Chapters

  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2010). Data collection methods in speech act performance: DCTs, role plays, and verbal reports. In E. Usó Juán and A. Martínez-Flor (eds), Speech act performance: Theoretical, Empirical, and methodological issues. John Benjamins Publishing.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C., & Bardovi-Harlig, K. (2010). "I'm sorry. Can I think about it?" The negotiation of refusals in academic and non-academic contexts. In D. Tatsuki & N. Houck (Eds.), Pragmatics From Research to Practice: Teaching Speech Acts. Alexandria, VA: TESOL.

Book Reviews

  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2010). Acknowledgments: Structure of phraseology of gratitude in PhD dissertations. Journal of Pragmatics.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2010). Variational Pragmatics: A focus on regional varieties in pluricentric languages. (Eds. K. Schneider & A. Barron, 2008). Multilingua 29, 119-123.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2008). Spanish pragmatics by R. Márquez-Reiter & M. E. Placencia (2005). Basingstoke, Palgrave, Macmillan. Spanish in Context, 5(1), 148-151.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2007). Research on politeness in the Spanish-speaking world by M. E. Placencia & C. Garciá (eds.). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 2007. 442 pp. (Book notice). Pragmatics 17(2), 348.
  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. C. (2004). Gender and politeness by Sara Mills (2003). Cambridge University Press. Available in the Linguist List online.

Courses Taught

  • Pragmatics
  • Grammar and Social Interaction
  • Cross-Cultural Pragmatics
  • Research Methods in Linguistics
  • The Role of Instruction in Learning Second Language Pragmatics
  • Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics

The learning of second and foreign languages is a rich and fascinating process involving linguistic, psychological, cultural, and social dimensions. The Indiana University Department of Second Language Studies is dedicated to teaching and research on the structure, acquisition, and use of nonnative language in both instructed and contact contexts.