The interplay of cultural expectation, gender role, and communicative behavior
Evidence from compliment-responding behavior
A number of pragmatic studies have reported on gender variations in compliment-responding linguistic behavior. However, how people of different gender roles react to compliments was rarely compared. The earlier literature reported that men and women’s values and priorities are incompatible, something which can have a significant impact on their reactions to compliments. The present study, therefore, investigates how people of different gender roles pragmalinguistically respond to different kinds of compliments, such as on appearance, ability, possessions, or personality traits. A discourse completion test, designed to elicit people’s compliment-responding patterns under different scenarios, was then distributed to 600 male and female adult informants. The results showed that the respondents’ reactions to compliments were mostly conditioned by their own gender roles. In addition, the male and female participants’ preferential compliment-responding behaviors were manifestations of the social expectations on masculinity and femininity in their particular speech community.
Keywords: speech act, compliment response, gender variation, social expectation, Mandarin Chinese, discourse completion test
Published online: 20 November 2020
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