Politeness at the extremes
Iranian women’s insincere responses to compliments
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 tarof, hyperreciprocation, and double positive response 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 sha’n and shekasteh-nafsi. 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.
Keywords: compliment, insincere responses, Iranian culture, Mixed Game Model, politeness
Published online: 27 November 2017
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