Edited by Carmen Taleghani-Nikazm, Emma Betz and Peter Golato
[Studies in Language and Social Interaction 33] 2020
► pp. 253–278
Chapter 10. Doing more than expected
Thanking recognizes another’s agency in providing assistance
In informal interaction, speakers rarely thank a person who has complied with a request. Examining data from British English, German, Italian, Polish, and Telugu, we ask when speakers do thank after compliance. The results show that thanking treats the other’s assistance as going beyond what could be taken for granted in the circumstances. Coupled with the rareness of thanking after requests, this suggests that cooperation is to a great extent governed by expectations of helpfulness, which can be long-standing, or built over the course of a particular interaction. The higher frequency of thanking in some languages (such as English or Italian) suggests that cultures differ in the importance they place on recognizing the other’s agency in doing as requested.