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Complaining and Commiserating

A Speech Act View of Solidarity in Spoken American English


Maria Stoffers

This book provides an in-depth ethnographic analysis of the social functions of indirect complaints (ICs) and commiserative responses as they are used among speakers of American English and one group of Japanese learners of American English. The speech acts of complaining and commiserating are analysed as a function of the sociolinguistic variables of gender, social distance and relative social status.
Indirect complaints were found to be ubiquitous in the ordinary conversation of the native speakers studied. The vast majority of IC exchanges were found to establish solidarity between interlocutors based on a shared view.
Contents: The book provides a descriptive analysis of indirect complaints and commiserations among native speakers as well as a discussion of the social distributions of ICs and their responses. Non-native IC-commiseration use is compared with native speaker use. Implications for TESOL pedagogy are drawn.