The Use of Compliment Response Strategies among Iranian Learners of English: Researching Interlocutors' Relative Power and Gender

  • Seyyed Hatam Tamimi Sa’d
Keywords: Compliment response strategies, EFL learners, politeness, pragmatic competence


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 â€œAcceptanceâ€, “Combination†and “Amendmentâ€. 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 Relationshipâ€, “No acknowledgmentâ€, and “Nonacceptanceâ€. 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.


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How to Cite
Tamimi Sa’dS. H. (2015). The Use of Compliment Response Strategies among Iranian Learners of English: Researching Interlocutors’ Relative Power and Gender. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, 5(4), 89-107.