Investigating the Use of Compliments and Compliment Responses in Persian: Effect of Educational Background

Vahid Shahidi Pour, Gholam Reza Zarei


The present study aimed at investigating the effect of the social variable of education on the use of compliments and compliment responses in Persian. To this end, a Discourse Completion Task (DCT) was administered to 200 native Persian speakers from different educational backgrounds. In general, the results revealed that participants tended to use explicit unbound semantic formula as well as non-compliment strategies to give compliments the most. However, they used future reference, contrast, request, and 'other' strategies the least. Furthermore, they followed accept, reject, and evade trend when replying to compliments. Surprisingly, the most common subcategory of compliment response strategy used by participants was downgrade. Return and appreciation tokens were the second and third most frequently used strategies. However, they never used reassignment and topic shift to respond to compliments. In particular, the results suggested the effect of education on determining compliments and compliment responses patterns. While lower educated people preferred non-compliment strategies, higher educated people preferred explicit semantic formula strategies to give compliments the most. In replying to compliments, downgrade occurred most frequently across different educational levels except PhD/MD level. PhD/MD holders used appreciation token the most. The second most frequently used compliment response strategy by all educational levels was return. However, despite minor differences, no marked difference was found among educational levels regarding the least frequent compliments and compliment responses. The findings can provide valuable insight into the cultural and socio-cultural factors affecting the way people compliment, perceive the compliments, and respond to the compliments made on them.



Pragmatic competence, Speech acts, Compliments, Compliment responses, Educational background

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