Volume 7, Issue 3
  • ISSN 2210-4119
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4127
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


This study addresses the issue of politeness in compliment responses (CRs) among Iranian female university students. Using naturally occurring talk, 235 compliment-response exchanges were recorded during focus group interviews. The findings revealed that to mitigate impoliteness the interviewees displayed five extreme culture-specific politeness strategies as (1) tarof, (2) shekasteh-nafsi, (3) hyperreciprocation, (4) sha’n, and (5) double positive response. In female-female CR exchanges, interviewees attempted to foster a good impression by resorting to politeness strategies of , , and whereas in male-female CR exchanges, interviewees tried to undermine the appraised impression imposed by the opposite-sex compliments through politeness strategies that are anchored in and . This article concludes that Iranian women respond diversely to compliments by virtue of interaction among integrated components: the compliment topic, the complimenter’s sex, and cultural burdens.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Allami, Hamid and Maryam Montazeri
    2012 “Iranian EFL learners’ compliment responses.” System40 (4): 466–482. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2012.10.010
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2012.10.010 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bardovi-Harlig, Kathleen and Beverly Hartford
    2005Intercultural Pragmatics: Exploring Institutional Talk. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson
    1987Politeness: Some Universals in Language Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Cheng, Dongmei
    2011 “New insights on compliment responses: A comparison between native English speakers and Chinese L2 speakers.” Journal of Pragmatics43 (8): 2204–2214. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2011.02.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2011.02.003 [Google Scholar]
  5. Coates, Jennifer
    1989 “Gossip Revisited: Language in All-Female Groups.” InWomen in their Speech Communities, ed. by Jennifer Coates , and Deborah Cameron , 94–122. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Culpeper, Jonathan
    1996 “Towards an anatomy of impoliteness.” Journal of Pragmatics25 (3): 349–367. doi: 10.1016/0378‑2166(95)00014‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00014-3 [Google Scholar]
  7. Czopp, Alexander M.
    2008 “When is a compliment not a compliment? Evaluating expressions of positive stereotypes.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology44 (2): 413–420. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2006.12.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2006.12.007 [Google Scholar]
  8. Eckert, Penelope and Sally McConnell-Ginet
    2003Language and Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511791147
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511791147 [Google Scholar]
  9. Goffman, Erving
    1956The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Grein, Marion
    2007 “The Speech Act of Refusal within the Minimal Action Game.” InDialogue and Culture, ed. by Marion Grein and Edda Weigand , 95–113. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/ds.1.08gre
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ds.1.08gre [Google Scholar]
  11. Heidari, Mohammad Ali , Mohsen Rezazadeh , and Abbas Eslami Rasekh
    2009 “A contrastive study of compliment responses among male & female Iranian teenage EFL learners.” The International Journal of Language, Society and Culture29: 18–31.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Herbert, Robert K.
    1990 “Sex-based differences in compliment behavior.” Language in Society19 (2): 201–224. doi: 10.1017/S0047404500014378
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500014378 [Google Scholar]
  13. Holmes, Janet
    1988 “Paying compliments: A sex-preferential politeness strategy.” Journal of Pragmatics12 (4): 445–465. doi: 10.1016/0378‑2166(88)90005‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(88)90005-7 [Google Scholar]
  14. Ishihara, Noriko and Andrew D. Cohen
    2010Teaching and Learning Pragmatics: Where Language and Culture Meet. Harlow: Pearson Education.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Jaworski, Adam
    1995 “This is not an empty compliment! Polish compliments and the expression of solidarity.” International Journal of Applied Linguistics5 (1): 63–94. doi: 10.1111/j.1473‑4192.1995.tb00073.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1473-4192.1995.tb00073.x [Google Scholar]
  16. Kasper, Gabriele
    2008 “Data Collection in Pragmatics Research.” InCulturally Speaking: Culture, Communication and Politeness Theory, ed. by Helen Spencer-Oatey , 279–303. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Kerbrat-Orecchioni, Catherine
    1987 “La description des échanges en analyse conversationnelle: L’exemple du compliment.” DRLAV-Revue de Linguistique36–37: 1–53.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Knapp, Mark L. , Robert Hopper , and Robert A. Bell
    1984 “Compliments: A descriptive taxonomy.” Journal of Communication34 (4): 12–31. doi: 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.1984.tb02185.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1984.tb02185.x [Google Scholar]
  19. Manes, Joan
    1983 “Compliments: A Mirror of Cultural Values.” InSociolinguistics and Language Acquisition, ed. by Nessa Wolfson , and Elliot Judd , 96–102. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Motaghi-Tabari, Shiva , and Louise de Beuzeville
    2012 “A contrastive study of compliment responses among Persian and Australians: The effects of exposure to a new speech community.” Applied Research in English1: 21–42.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Nkwain, Joseph
    2011 “Complimenting and face: A pragma-stylistic analysis of appraisal speech acts in Cameroon Pidgin English.” Acta Linguistica Hafniensia43 (1): 60–79. doi: 10.1080/03740463.2011.589992
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03740463.2011.589992 [Google Scholar]
  22. Pomerantz, Anita
    1978 “Compliment Responses: Notes on the Co-operation of Multiple Constraints.” InStudies in the Organization of Conversational Interaction, ed. by Jim Schenkein , 79–112. New York, San Francisco, London: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978‑0‑12‑623550‑0.50010‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-623550-0.50010-0 [Google Scholar]
  23. Sadeghi, Elahe , and Gholam Reza Zarei
    2013 “Investigating the use of compliments in Persian and English: A case study of Iranian EFL students.” Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Translation Studies2 (2): 30–49.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Sharifian, Farzad
    2005 “The Persian cultural schema of shekasteh-nafsi: a study of compliment responses in Persian and Anglo-Australian speakers.” Pragmatics and Cognition13 (2): 337–361. doi: 10.1075/pc.13.2.05sha
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pc.13.2.05sha [Google Scholar]
  25. Weigand, Edda
    2007 “The Sociobiology of Language.” InDialogue and Culture, ed. by Marion Grein and Edda Weigand , 27–49. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/ds.1.04wei
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ds.1.04wei [Google Scholar]
  26. 2010Dialogue: The Mixed Game. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/ds.10
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ds.10 [Google Scholar]
  27. 2016 “How to verify a theory of dialogue.” Language and Dialogue6 (3): 349–369. doi: 10.1075/ld.6.3.01wei
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ld.6.3.01wei [Google Scholar]
  28. Yousefvand, Zohreh
    2010 Study of compliment speech act realization patterns across gender in Persian. Arizona Working Papers in SLA & Teaching17: 91–112.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): compliment; insincere responses; Iranian culture; Mixed Game Model; politeness
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error