Volume 22, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


This study aims firstly to compare the complaints of local native-Malay speakers and expatriate native-English speakers in Brunei in terms of move structure and levels of directness combined with the frequency of modality markers; and secondly, it attempts to address the relationship between polite behaviour and its effectiveness in eliciting the appropriate response from the hearer. Data from an oral discourse completion task show interesting similarities and differences in the complaint move structure between the two groups of speakers. Superficially, there appears to be no significant difference between the two sets of complaints in terms of levels of directness, but a detailed analysis shows each group employing different mitigating strategies to minimise the force of a complaint. Furthermore, responses from an acceptability judgement questionnaire indicate that being indirect, and therefore polite, may not be effective in eliciting the appropriate response to a request for action in a complaint speech act.


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