Compliment strategies and regional variation in French: Evidence from Cameroon and Canadian French

Bernard Mulo Farenkia

Abstract

The present study examines differences and similarities in the realization of compliments (on skills) in Cameroon and Canadian French. The data were collected by means of discourse completion tasks (DCT) administered to 55 participants in Yaoundé (Cameroon) and 39 respondents in Montréal (Canada). The 277 compliments obtained were analyzed according to the following three aspects: a) head act strategies (direct and indirect compliments), b) lexico-semantic and syntactic features of complimentary utterances, and c) external modification. With regard to head act strategies, the results show a preference for double head acts by the Cameroonian participants, while the Canadians more frequently employed single head acts. It was also found that indirect realizations of head acts occurred only in the Cameroonian data. Positive evaluation markers (e.g. adjectives, adverbs, verbs) and syntactic devices appearing in the compliments varied in type and frequency in the two varieties of French under investigation. The analysis of external modifications reveals that participants of both groups used many speech acts to externally modify their compliments. Overall, interjections, address forms, greetings, self-introductions and apologies were used as pre-compliments, with some speech acts, namely greetings and self-introductions, occurring only in the Cameroonian data.

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