The Pragmatic Knowledge of Iranian EFL Learners in Using Face Keeping Strategies in Reaction to Complaints at Two Different Levels

  •  Akram Azarmi    
  •  Biook Behnam    


The purpose of this study was to investigate the ability of the upper intermediate and the intermediate learners in keeping face in different complaint situations. Complaint is the expression of the speaker displeasure or annoyance as a reaction to a past or ongoing action, the consequences of which affect the speaker unfavorably (Olshtain & Weinbach, 1987). Brown and Levinson (1978) categorized complaints as Face-Threating Act. Forty learners were selected based on their scores on a proficiency test. They completed a Discourse Completion Test which included different complaint scenarios. Their responses were analyzed on the basis of four complaints categories of Olshtain and Weinbach (1987) and three complaint categories of De Capua’s (1998). Then, their answers were compared with Brown and Levinson’s (1978) politeness theory for the face keeping strategies. The findings revealed that the upper intermediate learners and the intermediate learners used different types of speech acts in each situation and that at low levels some degree of pragmatic awareness should be presented. The study provided some pedagogical implications for the field of EFL teaching and syllabus designing.

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