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Title:A contrastive study of compliment responses in American English and Thai including the effect of gender and social status
Author(s):Gajaseni, Chansongklod
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bouton, Lawrence F.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
Language, Linguistics
Abstract:Studies have shown that different cultures have different response patterns, and there are various factors that affect the way people respond to compliments. The goal of this study is to determine the extent to which the gender and social status of the complimenter as well as the gender of the receiver account for the choice of strategy Americans and Thais use to respond to compliments.
The data were collected from 40 American students at the University of Illinois, and another 40 Thai students in Thailand. Each subject was asked to respond orally to the 16 compliment situations in the discourse completion test, and they were interviewed when they had completed the test.
The results suggest that there are both similarities and differences in American English and Thai. The data revealed 13 types of compliment responses, which were placed along a continuum between the poles of acceptance (agreement) and rejection (disagreement and the avoidance of self-praise) (Pomerantz, 1978). Acceptance occurred most frequently in both groups, but Americans tend to use it more often than Thais. Furthermore, Americans are likely to give long responses by combining different strategies in one response, or by repeating the same strategy. Thais, on the other hand, tend to be brief. In addition, both groups appear to be affected by the complimenter's social status. That is, more compliments are accepted from a higher status complimenter, and more are rejected from an equal-status complimenter. However, this pattern was more pronounced in Thai than in American English.
The study also shows that there is difficulty in assigning all responses to rigid categories because a number of them can perform more than one function at the same time. This study, therefore, proposes that there is a continuum of compliment responses in which the responses that fall along the line have different degrees of agreement and self-praise avoidance. It demonstrates that the speaker tries to balance the need to agree with the complimenter while, at the same time, avoiding self-praise.
Issue Date:1994
Rights Information:Copyright 1994 Gajaseni, Chansongklod
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9512365
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9512365

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