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FACULTY OF LANGUAGES AND LINGUISTICS
TOX 7001
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
IMPOLITENESS OF AMONG EFL UNIVERSITY STUDENTS’ COMPLAINING BEHAVIOURS ACROSS SOCIAL DISTANCE AND STATUS LEVELS
By:
ANNIETHA KUMARI A/P MARITQA170021

For:
Dr. CHEW SHIN YI
Abstract
Over the past decades, little research has examined impoliteness done by second language learners. In this study, impoliteness used in complaints made by English as second language learners was observed. The effects of speakers’ different status levels and social distance on the use of impoliteness were analysed. Observed data were generated by means of Oral Discourse Completion Tasks (ODCT) from second language learners in an English Language postgraduate programme of a major public university in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1.1Introduction
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (2017) stated that the advancement of our country’s economy has caused our society to become more affluent and this in return has resulted in important elements such as courtesy, noble values, and ethics to be sidelined. This is supported by Dan (2016) who had listed online offences such as usage of swear words, insults as well as criticism and urged the global community to be kind to one another in social media. Thus, the interest for this study emerged from the discussion on identifying if people used impoliteness in real life and whether social distance and social status influenced the type of politeness used.

1.2Aims
The aim of the present study is to examine the impoliteness in complaints made by English as a Second Language (ESL) learners when they are in different scenarios, playing different roles and having different levels of social distance with the people they communicate with.

1.3Research Problem
The present study looks to explore the differences in social status and social distance prompt different application of impoliteness.

1.4Research Questions
This study was designed to answer the following research questions:
How would differences in social status prompt different application of impoliteness?
How would differences in social distance prompt different application of impoliteness?
1.5Scope and Limitations
This first limitations of this study is the complaints will be based on the participants’ imagination on how they would behave in the given scenario. Secondly, although the research instrument Oral Discourse Completion Tasks (ODCTs) were able to elicit complaints from the participants, the complaints only reflect what the ESL learners believed to be the right responses as different to data taken from real conversations. Thus, the participants may have provided different politeness strategies during a real personal communicative situation. Thirdly, the numbers of participants were limited.
1.6Significance
The significance of this study is to examine how impoliteness is employed by university ESL learners and how social status levels and social distance influences their application of impoliteness when making complaints.

2.0Literature Review
Brown and Levinson’s (1987) influential work on the connection between politeness and language use suggests a basic principle that may account for this asymmetry between agreement and disagreement, namely that of face. They define face as “the public self-image that every member wants to claim for himself and assume that all competent adult members of a society have (and know each other to have)” it (1987, p. 61, parentheses in original). What can be derived from these assumptions is the existence of a basic human need to save one’s own as well as any other person’s face, which results in a tendency to avoid face-threatening acts (FTAs).
According to Bousfield and Locher (2008), power is a very significant feature in the study of impoliteness. They also argued that power is a crucial part of communication and “impoliteness is an exercise of power”. Moreover, impoliteness results in limitations in the behaviours someone can respond to the impoliteness or to the face-attack.

3.0Methodology
This research uses a mix method approach, where quantitative data is collected by questionnaires and the results will be transferred to qualitative data.

For this study, mix methodThe researchers adopted a qualitative approach to conduct the study as the behavior and response of ESL learners were of primary interest.
3.1Research Participants
The participants of the study were chosen using purposive sampling from students of a major public university in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Participants were chosen based on their ability to converse in the English Language to ensure that they are able to respond well to scenarios given.

3.2Research Instruments
3.2.1 Oral Discourse Completion Tasks
To answer tFor the present study, Oral Discourse Completion Tasks (ODCTs) will be used. The ODCTs will consist of nine scenarios of interpersonal communication. The participants in each scenario will represent as one who had a particular social status level (lower, equal, higher) and social distance or familiarity (close, familiar, unfamiliar).

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