Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor

Laurel Stvan


There is little research on Arabic speech acts of complaint in computer-mediated communication (CMC), and specifically on Twitter. This study examined Saudi Arabic complaints on Twitter, employing a pragmatic approach and an automated corpus approach. Data were collected from responses to the customer care accounts of Noon, an online retailer on Twitter. A total of 12,200 tweets were used to conduct the corpus analysis, and another 1,000 tweets were used to conduct the pragmatics analysis. The keywords corpus analysis revealed eight complaint categories that included both direct and indirect complaints, the majority of which were relatively direct and confrontational. In addition, a corpus analysis examined earlier published definitions of speech acts of complaint, one of which was contributed by Olshtain and Cohen (1983) and supported by the present study. The pragmatics analysis showed that Arabic complaints tended to use more direct strategies, while indirect complaint strategies were rarely employed. The analysis also revealed five directive acts, the most common of which was the request for repair. The perspective of the complainant analysis revealed that focalizing references were more prevalent than defocalizing references. In addition, the analysis found that complainers utilized more intensifying than diminishing modifiers, and that they most frequently sought solution seeking as an external modifier to justify complaints. Further analysis indicated that complaints were generally impolite in nature. Also, both polite and neutral complaints were observed when the Relational Work Model by Locher & Watts (2005) was employed. The implications of the findings include the importance of combining corpus and pragmatic methods. Also, the finding shows the significance of employing naturally occurring data. The study shows the importance of differentiating between defining complaints in CMC and complaints in face-to-face communication. The results demonstrate that the theoretical distinction between politeness and impoliteness was insufficient to account for the complaint in CMC.


Speech act, Pragmatic


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

Available for download on Sunday, February 01, 2026

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