Strategies of (in)directness in Spanish speakers’ production of complaints and disagreements in English and Spanish

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This article presents the results of a study carried out with Spanish Universitystudents on their use of strategies of (in)directness when expressing complaints,disapprovals and disagreements in English and Spanish. We adopt a role-playeliciting procedure for the collection of what a speaker thinks and what s/heactually says in a given situation. Our results show a tendency to mitigate theactual words uttered with regard to the thought processes in both languages.However, while in English students show a preference for conventional indirectness,in Spanish there is a greater variation in the strategies employed.Thus, mitigation, especially in Spanish, is often realised by means of the co-occurrenceof negative and positive politeness strategies across several speechacts, thus performing complex utterances. These results point at an awareness ofstudents’ attempts to adapt to the model of indirectness that is assumed of theEnglish culture, vs. the model of directness associated to the Spanish culture.


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