A Comparative Study on the Use of Compliment Response Strategies by Persian and English Native Speakers

Mansour Shabani, Maryam Zeinali


The significance of pragmatic knowledge and politeness strategies has recently been emphasized in language learning and teaching. Most communication failures originate in the lack of pragmatic awareness which is evident among EFL learners while communicating with English native speakers. The present study aimed at investigating compliment response strategies, as a sub-category of politeness strategies, used by a group of Persian and English native speakers, and examining the effect of gender on the use of strategies to respond to compliments. To these ends and with the use of convenient sampling, thirty Iranian native speakers (15 females and 15 males) in Iran and 26 English native speakers (13 females and 13 males) in Canada, all college students with age range of 17-30, participated in this study. In order to collect a corpus of compliment responses, a researcher-made questionnaire in the form of a Discourse Completion Task was distributed among the participants. Using two-way ANOVAs, the findings indicated that there is a significant difference between Persian native speakers and Canadian English speakers (p< .05) with respect to the compliment response strategies investigated in this study namely, accept, evade, and reject. Moreover, it was found that the most widely used compliment response strategy among both Iranian and English participants is accept. Regarding the effect of gender on the use of compliment response strategies by the participants, the results did not reveal a statistically significant difference between the two groups (p> .05).Considering the findings of the present study, materials developers and textbook writers can make more space in EFL textbooks for exercises about compliments (responses); and help in highlighting the significance of this aspect of pragmatic knowledge.

Keywords: pragmatics, politeness, compliment, compliment response, EFL

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