Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Employing a cross-generational perspective, this study attempts to deepen our understanding of the politeness strategies Saudi females use when responding to compliments in English from an English speaker. The study investigated how Saudi females from two generations respond to compliments in an educational setting in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Participants included sixty-two female undergraduate students and sixty-four female lecturers from one university in the KSA. Following a mixed methods approach, the study included two primary sources of data: a quantitative Discourse Completion Task questionnaire for eliciting compliment responses (CRs) from the two generations; and qualitative semi-structured interviews with six participants from each group. Findings indicate that participants from both groups tended to accept compliments although there was a tendency to question the sincerity of the compliments.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Al-Khateeb, Sana’Mohammed Ibrahim
    2009 “The Speech Act of Thanking as a Compliment Response as Used by the Arab Speakers of English: A Comparative Intercultural Study.” Unpublished Masters Thesis, An Najah National University.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Al-Rousan, Mohammad Yahya, and Nosimah Mat Awal
    2016 “Compliment Responses among Male and Female Jordanian University Students.” GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies16 (1).
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Al-Shahri, Mohammad Zahri
    2002 “Culturally Sensitive Caring for Saudi Patients.” Journal of Transcultural Nursing13 (2): 133–138. 10.1177/104365960201300206
    https://doi.org/10.1177/104365960201300206 [Google Scholar]
  4. Al-Seghayer, Khalid
    2014 “The Four Most Common Constraints Affecting English Teaching in Saudi Arabia.” International Journal of English Linguistics4 (5): 17–26. 10.5539/ijel.v4n5p17
    https://doi.org/10.5539/ijel.v4n5p17 [Google Scholar]
  5. Al Dameg, KA
    2011 “The Suitable Age for Learning Foreign Languages in Public Education.” Damascus University Journal27 (1–2): 753–811.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Al Falasi, Hessa
    2007 “Just Say Thank You: A Study of Compliment Responses.” The Linguistics Journal2 (1): 28–42.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Alqarni, Saad
    2017 “A Sociolinguistic Investigation of Compliments and Compliment Responses among Young Saudis.” Unpublished Masters Thesis, Western Sydney University.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Alrashidi, Oqab, and Huy Phan
    2015 “Education Context and English Teaching and Learning in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: An Overview.” English Language Teaching8 (5): 33–44. 10.5539/elt.v8n5p33
    https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v8n5p33 [Google Scholar]
  9. Alsalem, Nuha Khalid
    2015 “Compliment Responses: A Comparison of Saudi English Learners and Native Speakers of American English in an Academic Environment.” Unpublished Masters Thesis, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Badry, Fatima, and John Willoughby
    2016Higher Education Revolutions in the Gulf: Globalization and Institutional Viability. Taylor & Francis.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Barnawi, Osman Z.
    2016 “The Effect of Negotiating Pedagogies in Saudi College EFL Writing Classrooms.” Language and Literacy18 (1): 1–22. 10.20360/G2DW2X
    https://doi.org/10.20360/G2DW2X [Google Scholar]
  12. Barnawi, Osman Z., and Sajjadullah Al-Hawsawi
    2017 “English Education Policy in Saudi Arabia: English Language Education Policy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Current Trends, Issues and Challenges.” InEnglish Language Education Policy in the Middle East and North Africa, ed. byRobert Kirkpatrick, 199–222. Springer. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑46778‑8_12
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46778-8_12 [Google Scholar]
  13. Bowen, Wayne H.
    2014The History of Saudi Arabia. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Braun, Virginia, and Victoria Clarke
    2006 “Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology.” Qualitative Research in Psychology3 (2): 77–101. 10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
    https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa [Google Scholar]
  15. Brinkmann, Svend, and Steinar Kvale
    2015 “Conducting an Interview.” InInterviews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Brown, Penelope, and Stephen C. Levinson
    1978 “Universals in Language Usage: Politeness Phenomena.” InQuestions and Politeness: Strategies in Social Interaction, ed. byEsther N. Goody, 56–311. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Charmaz, Kathy
    2011 “Grounded Theory Methods in Social Justice Research.” InThe Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, ed. byNorman K. Denzin, and Yvonna S. Lincoln, 359–380. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Chen, Jun, and Nathaya Boonkongsaen
    2012 “Compliment Response Strategies by Thai and Chinese EFL Teachers: A Contrastive Study.” Theory & Practice in Language Studies2 (9): 1860–1867. 10.4304/tpls.2.9.1860‑1867
    https://doi.org/10.4304/tpls.2.9.1860-1867 [Google Scholar]
  19. Chen, Rong, and Dafu Yang
    2010 “Responding to Compliments in Chinese: Has It Changed?” Journal of Pragmatics42 (7): 1951–1963. 10.1016/j.pragma.2009.12.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2009.12.006 [Google Scholar]
  20. Couper, Mick P.
    2000 “Web Surveys: A Review of Issues and Approaches.” The Public Opinion Quarterly64 (4): 464–494. 10.1086/318641
    https://doi.org/10.1086/318641 [Google Scholar]
  21. Creswell, John W., and V. Plano Clark
    2018Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Dahan, Laila Suleiman
    2015 “A Critical Examination of the Significance of Arabic in Realizing an Arab Identity: The Perspectives of Arab Youth at an English Medium University in the United Arab Emirates.” Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Exeter.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Donaldson, B. A.
    1938The Wild Rue: A Study of Muhammadan Magic and Folklore in Iran. Luzac & Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Dörnyei, Z.
    2007Research Methods in Applied Linguistics: Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methodologies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Enssaif, Z.
    2005 “Compliment Behavior: Strategies and Realizations in English and Arabic: A Case Study of Female Students of the English Department, King Saud University.” Unpublished Masters Thesis, King Saud University.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Farghal, Mohammed, and Ahmed
    1997 “Pragmareligious Failure in Translating Arabic Politeness Formulas into English: Evidence from Mahfouz’s Awlad Haritna.” Multilingua – Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication16 (1): 77–100. 10.1515/mult.1997.16.1.77
    https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.1997.16.1.77 [Google Scholar]
  27. Gibbs, Raymond W.
    2000 “Irony in Talk among Friends.” Metaphor and Symbol15 (1–2): 5–27. 10.1080/10926488.2000.9678862
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2000.9678862 [Google Scholar]
  28. Goffman, Erving
    1955 “On Face-work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction.” Psychiatry18 (3): 213–231. 10.1080/00332747.1955.11023008
    https://doi.org/10.1080/00332747.1955.11023008 [Google Scholar]
  29. Golato, Andrea
    2005Compliments and Compliment Responses: Grammatical Structure and Sequential Organization. Urbana-Champaign, Ill: John Benjamins Publishing. 10.1075/sidag.15
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sidag.15 [Google Scholar]
  30. He, Yun
    2012 “Different Generations, Different Face? A Discursive Approach to Naturally Occurring Compliment Responses in Chinese.” Journal of Politeness Research8 (1): 29–51. 10.1515/pr‑2012‑0003
    https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2012-0003 [Google Scholar]
  31. Herbert, Robert K.
    1990 “Sex-Based Differences in Compliment Behavior.” Language in Society19 (2): 201–224. 10.1017/S0047404500014378
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500014378 [Google Scholar]
  32. Holmes, Janet
    1986 “Compliments and Compliment Responses in New Zealand English.” Anthropological Linguistics28 (4): 485–508.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Homes, Janet
    1988 “Paying Compliments: A Sex-Preferential Politeness Strategy.” Journal of Pragmatics12 (4): 445–465. 10.1016/0378‑2166(88)90005‑7
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(88)90005-7 [Google Scholar]
  34. Holmes, Janet
    1993 “New Zealand Women Are Good to Talk to: An Analysis of Politeness Strategies in Interaction.” Journal of Pragmatics20 (2): 91–116. 10.1016/0378‑2166(93)90078‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(93)90078-4 [Google Scholar]
  35. Ide, Risako
    1998 “‘Sorry for Your Kindness’: Japanese Interactional Ritual in Public Discourse.” Journal of Pragmatics29 (5): 509–529. 10.1016/S0378‑2166(98)80006‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(98)80006-4 [Google Scholar]
  36. Jorgensen, Julia
    1996 “The Functions of Sarcastic Irony in Speech.” Journal of Pragmatics26 (5): 613–634. 10.1016/0378‑2166(95)00067‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00067-4 [Google Scholar]
  37. Karimnia, Amin, and Akbar Afghari
    2010 “On the Applicability of Cultural Scripts in Teaching L2 Compliments.” English Language Teaching3 (3): 71–80. 10.5539/elt.v3n3p71
    https://doi.org/10.5539/elt.v3n3p71 [Google Scholar]
  38. Kaspar, Gabriele, and Kenneth Rose
    2001 “Pragmatics in Language Teaching”. InPragmatics in Language Teaching, ed. byKenneth Rose, and Gabriele Kaspar, 1–10. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139524797.003
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524797.003 [Google Scholar]
  39. Kia, Elnaz, and Mohammad Salehi
    2013 “The Effect of Explicit and Implicit Instruction of English Thanking and Complimenting Formulas on Developing Pragmatic Competence of Iranian EFL Upper-Intermediate Level Learners.” Journal of Basic and Applied Scientific Research3 (8): 202–215.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Kirkpatrick, Robert, and Osman Z. Barnawi
    2017 “Introduction: English Language Education Policy in MENA.” InEnglish Language Education Policy in the Middle East and North Africa, ed. byRobert Kirkpatrick, 1–8. Springer. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑46778‑8_1
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46778-8_1 [Google Scholar]
  41. Knapp, Mark L., Robert Hopper, and Robert A. Bell
    1984 “Compliments: A Descriptive Taxonomy.” Journal of Communication34 (4); 12–31. 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.1984.tb02185.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1984.tb02185.x [Google Scholar]
  42. Kraus, Markus
    2017 “Comparing Generation X and Generation Y on Their Preferred Emotional Leadership Style.” Journal of Applied Leadership and Management51: 62–75.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Mahboob, Ahmar, and Tariq Elyas
    2014 “English in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” World Englishes33 (1): 128–142. 10.1111/weng.12073
    https://doi.org/10.1111/weng.12073 [Google Scholar]
  44. Maíz-Arévalo, Carmen
    2012 ““Was That a Compliment?” Implicit Compliments in English and Spanish.” Journal of Pragmatics44 (8): 980–996. 10.1016/j.pragma.2012.04.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2012.04.004 [Google Scholar]
  45. Manes, Joan, and Nessa Wolfson
    1981 “The Compliment Formula.” InConversational Routine, ed. byFlorian Coulmas, 116–132. The Hague: Mouton Publishers. 10.1515/9783110809145.115
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110809145.115 [Google Scholar]
  46. Mao, LuMing Robert
    1994 “Beyond Politeness Theory: ‘Face’ Revisited and Renewed.” Journal of Pragmatics21 (5): 451–486. 10.1016/0378‑2166(94)90025‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(94)90025-6 [Google Scholar]
  47. Matsumoto, Yoshiko
    1988 “Reexamination of the Universality of Face: Politeness Phenomena in Japanese.” Journal of Pragmatics12 (4): 403–426. 10.1016/0378‑2166(88)90003‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(88)90003-3 [Google Scholar]
  48. Migdadi, Fathi, Muhammad A. Badarneh, and Kawakib Momani
    2010 “Divine Will and Its Extensions: Communicative Functions of Maašaallah in Colloquial Jordanian Arabic.” Communication Monographs77 (4): 480–499. 10.1080/03637751.2010.502539
    https://doi.org/10.1080/03637751.2010.502539 [Google Scholar]
  49. Moghaddam, Mostafa Morady
    2017 “Politeness at the Extremes: Iranian Women’s Insincere Responses to Compliments.” Language and Dialogue7 (3): 413–431. 10.1075/ld.7.3.05mog
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ld.7.3.05mog [Google Scholar]
  50. 2019 “Appraising and Reappraising of Compliments and the Provision of Responses: Automatic and Non-Automatic Reactions.” Pragmatics29 (3): 410–435. 10.1075/prag.18016.mor
    https://doi.org/10.1075/prag.18016.mor [Google Scholar]
  51. Mostafa, Mariam
    2009 “A Study of Compliment Responses Among Male and Female Egyptian Undergraduate Students.” Unpublished Masters Thesis, The American Univeristy in Cairo.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Mursy, Ahmad Aly, and John Wilson
    2006 “Towards a Definition of Egyptian Complimenting”. Multilingua Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication20 (2): 133–154. 10.1515/MULTI.2001.006
    https://doi.org/10.1515/MULTI.2001.006 [Google Scholar]
  53. Othman, Normala
    2011 “Pragmatic and Cultural Considerations of Compliment Responses Among Malaysian-Malay Speakers.” Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature5 (1): 86–103.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Paltridge, Brian
    2021Discourse Analysis: An Introduction. Bloomsbury Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Pomerantz, Anita
    1978 “Compliment Responses: Notes on the Co-operation of Multiple Constraints.” InStudies in the Organization of Conversational Interaction, ed. byJim Schenkein, 79–112. Elsevier. 10.1016/B978‑0‑12‑623550‑0.50010‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-623550-0.50010-0 [Google Scholar]
  56. Rees-Miller, Janie
    2011 “Compliments Revisited: Contemporary Compliments and Gender.” Journal of Pragmatics43 (11): 2673–2688. 10.1016/j.pragma.2011.04.014
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2011.04.014 [Google Scholar]
  57. Riessman, Catherine Kohler
    2008Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Salameh, Abdallah
    2001 “Compliment Responses in American English, Saudi Arabic and the English of Saudi EFL learners.” Unpublished DEd thesis, University of Leicester.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Sharifian, Farzad
    2005 “The Persian Cultural Schema of Shekasteh-Nafsi: A Study of Compliment Responses in Persian and Anglo-Australian Speakers.” Pragmatics & Cognition13 (2): 337–361. 10.1075/pc.13.2.05sha
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pc.13.2.05sha [Google Scholar]
  60. Tawalbeh, Ayman, and Emran Al-Oqaily
    2012 “In-Directness and Politeness in American English and Saudi Arabic Requests: A Cross-Cultural Comparison.” Asian Social Science8 (10): 85–97. 10.5539/ass.v8n10p85
    https://doi.org/10.5539/ass.v8n10p85 [Google Scholar]
  61. Tripp, Harvey, and Peter North
    2003Culture Shock!: Saudi Arabia. Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Woodland, Jennifer, and Daniel Voyer
    2011 “Context and Intonation in the Perception of Sarcasm.” Metaphor and Symbol26 (3): 227–239. 10.1080/10926488.2011.583197
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10926488.2011.583197 [Google Scholar]
  63. Yousefvand, Zohreh
    2010 “Study of Compliment Speech Act Realization Patterns Across Gender in Persian.” Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching171: 91–112.
    [Google Scholar]
  64. Yu, Kyong-Ae
    2011 “Culture-Specific Concepts of Politeness: Indirectness and Politeness in English, Hebrew and Korean Requests.” Intercultural Pragmatics8 (3): 385–409. 10.1515/iprg.2011.018
    https://doi.org/10.1515/iprg.2011.018 [Google Scholar]
  65. Yuan, Yi
    2001 “An Inquiry into Empirical Pragmatics Data-Gathering Methods: Written DCTs, Oral DCTs, Field Notes, and Natural Conversations.” Journal of Pragmatics33 (2): 271–292. 10.1016/S0378‑2166(00)00031‑X
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(00)00031-X [Google Scholar]
  66. Ziaei, Narjes
    2013 “Translation on the Basis of Frequency: Compliment and Compliment Response.” Translation Journal16 (3): 4.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

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