An Investigation into the Speech Act of Compliment Response in Persian

Seyyed Ayatolla Razmjoo, Elyas Barabadi, Ali Arfa


The purpose of this study is to investigate the compliment responses in Persian language. Drawing on Herbert’s (1986), Mile (1994), Rose and Kwai-Fun (2001), and also the data of the current study, 18 types of compliment responses were identified. Based on different compliment topics [such as appearance, ability, possession and nationality], the researcher along with 12 others as assistants who were instructed how to give compliments got engaged in conversations with different people to compliment them. They complimented people from various professions, contexts, cities and educational levels. The majority [67.6%] of our corpus of 756 naturally occurring compliment responses fell into the main category of “agreement”. However, the absence of the compliment response “no-acknowledgement”, the high rate of two or three part appreciation token along with a significant portion of “ making offer” attest to the culturally-specific Iranian features such as modesty and Ta’arof. Additionally, no significant differences were found between males and females in terms of compliment response types, or the degree of modesty or Ta’arof. Nonetheless, there existed significant differences with regard to topics of compliment in a sense that most of the compliments given on nationality (89%) were accepted while in the case of physical and mental domain, it was not that much high. Like other studies in pragmatic area, this study also indicates that compliment response is cross-naturally varied, different, and hence warrants more attention in instruction and material development.



Speech act, compliment, compliment response, inter-language pragmatics and Persian language

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