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THE ROLE OF GENDER IN COMPLIMENTING IN AMERICAN ENGLISH: IMPLICATIONS FOR SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING

Abstract

This paper examines the speech act, "complimenting," in American English as a discourse unit comprised of two parts: a compliment and a response. A corpus of utterances previously collected and identified by the researcher served as the starting point for examination. Compliment-types were classified according to a taxonomy developed from earlier studies (Manes & Wolfson, 1981; Holmes, 1988b for New Zealand English). Response-types were classified based on suggestions made in previous research (Herbert, 1990; Pomerantz. 1978). Interactions were then sorted by biological gender of the participants. While linguistic analyses reveal results similar to former studies, two findings emerge as particularly interesting for further study:

1.) There appears to be an effect for  the  biological  gender  of  the  researcher  gathering  the data.

Thus, former suggestions that women issue more compliments may be predominantly due to the fact that female researchers were not exposed to all possible domains where they might encounter men engaging in complimenting behavior .

2.) The study of compliments and responses with relation to biological gender suggests  that  relevant differences are based partially on real or perceived status and are directly related to the sociocultural underpinnings in a given society. This supports the belief that complimenting behaviors differ cross-culturally. Thus, the "type" classifications and role of gender within a  specific  culture provide implications for the teaching of speech acts as meaningful units of discourse in second language learning.

How to Cite

Berlin, L. N., (1997) “THE ROLE OF GENDER IN COMPLIMENTING IN AMERICAN ENGLISH: IMPLICATIONS FOR SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 5, p.46-58.

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Lawrence N. Berlin (University of Arizona)

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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