Beyond saying thanks
Compliment responses in American English and Peninsular Spanish
This study explores how American English and Peninsular Spanish speakers respond to a compliment. Participants completed an online discourse completion test with nine different complimenting scenarios. A total of 14 different strategies for responding to a compliment were found in the data. Based on verbal reports on language use, it was found that Peninsular Spanish speakers do not compliment as often as American English speakers do. The data analysis also revealed that both language groups clearly prefer to accept a compliment, but whereas American English speakers regard a simple ‘thank you’ as an appropriate compliment response, Peninsular Spanish speakers prefer to agree with the complimented assertion by making a semantically fitted comment. Other differences include the importance of returning a compliment in American English and the need to scale down the illocutionary force of the compliment among Peninsular Spanish speakers.
Keywords: politeness, compliments, compliment responses, English, Spanish
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