A Pragmatic Cross-Cultural Study of Complaints Expressions in Jordan and England

Nisreen Al-Khawaldeh


Research shows an increasing interest in the area of cross-cultural pragmatics due to the existence of diverse problematic pragmatic norms (Al-Khawaldeh and Zegarac, 2013). It has been found that identifying cross-cultural differences in linguistic expression and socio-pragmatic norms of communicative acts would help to reduce problems in cross-cultural communication (Meier, 2010). To the best of the researcher's knowledge, no study has been conducted to compare the linguistic expression of complaining by Jordanian native speakers of Arabic and native speakers of English. To bridge the research gap, this study compares the number and types of politeness strategies that Jordanian native speakers of Arabic and native speakers of English use to complain. The study investigates the cultural styles and politeness strategies used by Jordanian native speakers Arabic and native speakers of English for expressing complaints. The analysis of the Discourse-Completion Tasks’ (DCT) results revealed that eleven complaints strategies were the most commonly-used by both groups, namely opting out, general annoyance, direct threat, accusation, prayer, advice, irony, rejoinder that shows no disapproval, exclamation, request for repair, and request for explanation. These strategies are manifested in the speech of both languages to save the hearer's face and remain polite when performing the inherently face-threatening speech act of complaint. Though both groups used various complaints strategies at overall frequencies that were closer, they were statistically distinguishable in the type of the linguistic expression of complaints, i.e. opting out and prayer. The results are then discussed from the universality and cultures-specificity perspective.



Complaint, cross-cultural study, politeness, pragmatics, speech acts

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575//aiac.ijalel.v.5n.5p.197


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