“But it’s truly aggravating and depressing”: Voicing counter-expectancy in US–Philippines service interactions

Yau Ni Wan (1)
(1) Department of English Language and Literature, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong China , Hong Kong


Intercultural competence is essential in a globalized business environment, where successful cross-border transactions rely on effective cross-cultural communication. Interactions between US customers and Filipino customer service representatives (CSR) in call centers are one example where intercultural competence is required. This study examines the use of counter-expectancy expressions in call center complaint calls by American consumers and Filipino CSRs in the insurance sector. This study used a Systemic Functional Linguistic (SFL) framework to examine the various linguistic realizations used in the dialogues, with a focus on appraisal theory. To further explore the connection between the use of business language, cultural norms, and the growth of intercultural competence, this study also considered Hofstede's cultural distinctions, as well as Hall's high-context and low-context cultures. Using a mixed approach, the present study examined 20 authentic audio recordings of complex insurance complaint calls (approximately four hours in length and containing 39,440 words). These spoken data were transcribed and analyzed for linguistic characteristics that indicated concessive expressions, for example, connectives such as “but” and “however”, and adjuncts such as “just” and “only”. The findings of this study have implications for language and cultural awareness training programs, and ultimately for enhancing intercultural communication skills in professional settings.

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Yau Ni Wan
nini1586@yahoo.com.hk (Primary Contact)
Author Biography

Yau Ni Wan, Department of English Language and Literature, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong China

Dr. Yau Ni WAN is an Assistant Professor of Department of English Language and Literature at Hong Kong Shue Yan University in Hong Kong, CHINA. Her research interests include systemic functional linguistics, professional discourse analysis, and English for academic and specific purposes.
Wan, Y. N. (2023). “But it’s truly aggravating and depressing”: Voicing counter-expectancy in US–Philippines service interactions. Journal of Intercultural Communication, 23(4), 95–105. https://doi.org/10.36923/jicc.v23i4.344

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