Say What?: Filipino ESL Learners’ Semantic Formula in Expressing Complaints


  • Warlito Jr Sanchez Caturay Assumption University of Thailand


complaints, pragmatics, speech act, speech act of complaints


Complaining is one of the difficult tasks one has to do because when one complains, one does not only express some displeasure but also expects some form of repair. Hence, it is important for language learners to be taught how to effectively do so. Despite this, the teaching of the speech act of complaint has been taken for granted: either very little is included or it is absent in the language classroom instruction. This study attempts to examine how Filipino ESL learners structure their complaints. Featuring 18 situations calibrated on three social variables (interlocutors’ social power and social distance, as well as the complainable acts’ degree of severity), the discourse completion task elicited respondents’ written expression of complaints, which were then analyzed using Schaefer’s (1982, as cited in Celce-Murcia & Olshtain, 2000) framework for analyzing the semantic formula of complaints. Results of the study provide a baseline data on respondents’ language of complaining, which provides many pedagogical implications and serves as a springboard for the development of classroom resource materials leading to an informed and judicious teaching of pragmatics.

Author Biography

Warlito Jr Sanchez Caturay, Assumption University of Thailand

Graduate School of Human Sciences, Ph.D. student


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