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Complaints as Positive Strategies: What the Learner Needs to Know

Diana Boxer
TESOL Quarterly
Vol. 27, No. 2 (Summer, 1993), pp. 277-299
DOI: 10.2307/3587147
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3587147
Page Count: 23
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Complaints as Positive Strategies: What the Learner Needs to Know
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Abstract

This study is an analysis of the speech act sequence of indirect complaint/commiseration in conversational interactions between Japanese learners of English as a second language and their English-speaking peers. An indirect complaint (IC) is defined as the expression of dissatisfaction about oneself or someone/something that is not present. It differs from a direct complaint in that the addressee is neither held responsible nor capable of remedying the perceived offense. Data from a larger study on ICs among native speakers (NSs) showed that ICs are frequently employed as positive strategies for the purpose of establishing points of commonality. The focus here is a contrastive view of IC responses by NSs and Japanese learners. Consequences of nonsubstantive, noncommiserative responses on the part of the learners are explored in light of missed opportunities for sustained interaction that can lead to increased opportunities for negotiation of meaning in the L2.

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