Indirectness in Requests in Complaint Letters to the Higher Institution by Turkish EFL Students

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Karatepe Ç.

International Conference on Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language (GlobELT), Antalya, Turkey, 14 - 17 April 2016, vol.232, pp.354-361 identifier

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • Volume: 232
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.10.050
  • City: Antalya
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.354-361
  • Keywords: Speech acts, formal requests, language awareness, NONNATIVE SPEAKERS, ENGLISH, POLITENESS, FACULTY
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


One of the defining characteristics of pragmatic competence is the ability to use appropriate lexico-grammatical and syntactic indirectness strategies (Blum-Kulka et al 1989) within a particular situation. Writing a complaint letter to an authority figure requires high pragmatic competence. However, even if learners have a good command of grammar, they fail to express and comprehend the intended illocutionary meaning. This study aims to examine request forms used by Turkish learners of English and NSs of English in complaint letters. The NS informants (N: 38) are mainly teachers teaching in the city of Bursa, Turkey and learners are all Turkish ELT teacher candidates (N:295) studying at Uludag University. Informants composed a letter where they asked the student registrar of Uludag University to correct their grade which appeared to be incorrectly entered as FAIL into the electronic records. Majority of NSs made 'conventionally indirect requests' (Blum-Kulka et al 1989) such as 'I'd be grateful if you re-check your records and amend this mistake'. Besides, quite many NSs did use the imperative form. But these are used to ask for notification about the result. On the other hand, NNSs used mainly three strategy types: Explicit Performative (I request from you to correct this mistake), Want Statement (I want you to correct control this mistake (please) and Suggestory Formula (If you can help in this matter, I would be really pleased). The results indicate that teacher candidates have difficulty in choosing the right verb form and using modal verbs to indicate indirectness appropriately. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.