The Use of Compliment Response Strategies among Iranian Learners of English: Researching Interlocutors' Relative Power and Gender
This article reports on a study that set out to investigate how Iranian EFL learners respond to compliments in English. The data were collected using a discourse completion task (DCT) consisting of a variety of situations that required the participants, 26 EFL learners (13 males and 13 females) to respond to compliments directed at them. The data were analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. To this end, the participants’ responses were coded according to a coding scheme adopted from Yu (2004) which identified six compliment response strategies (CRSs). The findings indicated that, regardless of or concerning gender and power (–P and =P), the first three most frequent CR strategies included “Acceptance”, “Combination” and “Amendment”. These findings were then analyzed in light of previous similar studies that revealed that the participants had followed their first cultural norms not only in using
the strategies mentioned above but also in employing very infrequently such strategies as “Face Relationship”, “No acknowledgment”, and “Nonacceptance”. As regards the role of gender, a Chi-square test was run which showed that males and females differed significantly in their use of CRSs. Furthermore, males used more CR strategies compared to females.
The qualitative analysis of the semantic formulas of the CR strategies also revealed that, by accepting a compliment, Iranian EFL learners sought agreement and consequently relied on positive politeness to foster rapport and solidarity.
Al-Khateeb, S. M. I. (2009). The speech act of thanking as a compliment response as used by the Arab speakers of English: A comparative intercultural study. Unpublished Master’s Thesis, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine.
Al-Qahtani, H. A. (2009). Female use of politeness strategies in the speech act of offering: A contrastive study between spoken Saudi Arabic and spoken British English. Unpublished Master’s Thesis, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia.
Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chaudron, C. (2005). Data collection in SLA research. In C. J. Doughty & M. H. Long (Eds.), The handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 762-828). USA: Blackwell Publishing.
Chen, R., & Yang, D. (2010). Responding to compliments in Chinese: Has it changed? Journal of Pragmatics, 42, 1951-1963.
Cheng, D. (2011). New insights on compliment responses: A comparison between native English speakers and Chinese L2 speakers. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 2204-2214.
Ellis, R. (2012). The study of second language acquisition. USA: Oxford University Press.
Golato, A. (2002). German compliment responses. Journal of Pragmatics, 34, 547-571.
Holmes, J. (1988). Paying compliments: a sex-preferential politeness strategy. Journal of Pragmatics, 12, 445-465.
Holmes, J., & Brown, D. F. (1987). Teachers and students learning about compliments. TESOL Quarterly, 21(3), 523-546.
Huth, T. (2006). Negotiating structure and culture: L2 learners’ realization of L2 complimentresponse sequences in talk-in-interaction. Journal of Pragmatics, 38, 2025-2050.
Jalilifar, A. R., Hashemian, M., & Tabatabaee, M. (2011). A cross-sectional study of Iranian EFL learners request strategies. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2(4), 790-803.
Johnson, D. M. (1992). Compliments and politeness in peer-review texts. Applied Linguistics, 13(1), 51-71.
Jucker, A. H. (2009).Speech act research between armchair, field and laboratory: The case of compliments. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 1611-1635.
Kasper, G., & Dahl, M. (1991). Research methods in interlanguage pragmatics. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 13(2), 215-247.
Morkus, N. (2009). The realization of the speech act of refusal in Egyptian Arabic by American learners of Arabic as a foreign language. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, University of South Florida. USA.
Mustapha, A. S. (2012). Approaches to Identifying the compliment data. International Journal of English Linguistics, 2(1), 220-230.
Nelson, G., Al-Batal, M., & Echols, E. (1996). Arabic and English compliment responses: Potential for pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics, 17(4), 411-432.
Nelson, G. L., E1 Bakary, W., & Al Batal, M. (1996).Egyptian and American compliments: Focus on second language learners. In S. M. Gass & J. Neu (Eds.), Speech acts across cultures: Challenges to communication in a second language (pp. 109-128). Germany: Mouton de Gruyter.
Ogiermann, E. (2009). On apologizing in negative and positive politeness cultures. The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Olshtain, E. (1993). The production of speech acts by EFL learners. TESOL Quarterly, 27(1), 33-56.
Rees-Miller, J. (2011). Compliments revisited: Contemporary compliments and gender. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 2673–2688.
Tang, C., & Zhang, G. Q. (2009). A contrastive study of compliment responses among Australian English and Mandarin Chinese speakers. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 325-345.
Verschueren, J. (2003). Understanding pragmatics. London: Arnold.
Watts, R. (2003). Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Willis, D. (2003). Rules, patterns and words Grammar and lexis in English language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wolfson, N. (1981). Compliments in cross-cultural perspective. TESOL Quarterly, 15(2), 117-124.
Yu, M. (2003). On the universality of face: Evidence from Chinese compliment response behavior. Journal of Pragmatics, 35, 1679-1710.
Yu, M. (2004). Interlinguistic variation and similarity in second language speech act behavior. The Modern Language Journal, 88, 102-119.
In order to ensure both the widest dissemination and protection of material published in CEPS Journal, we ask Authors to transfer to the Publisher (Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana) the rights of copyright in the Articles they contribute. This enables the Publisher to ensure protection against infringement.