A Study of Compliment Responses in English among Iraqi ...

A Study of Compliment Responses in English among Iraqi ...

ONE THING YOU CAN DO COMPLIMENT SOMEONE. Have you ever received a compliment? How do you respond when you receive a compliment? One of the main functions of language is to establish and maintain human relationships. Unfortunately, many people do not understand the impact of a response to a compliment. How should we be responding to compliments then? How should we do so when responding in a

foreign language (English)? A Study of Compliment Responses in English among Iraqi Postgraduates at USM Hiba Qusay Abdul Sattar Salasiah Che Lah (Dr.) Universiti Sains Malaysia Universiti Sains Malaysia [email protected] [email protected] Compliments Responses Holmes (1988:446) states that a compliment is a speech act which explicitly or implicitly attributes credit to someone other than the speaker, usually the person addressed, for some good (possession, characteristic, skill, etc.) which is positively valued by the speaker and

the hearer. Native Speakers of Arabic A number of studies on native speakers of Arabic have indicated that they face difficulties when speaking in English. They find it extremely difficult to produce or sometimes understand a speech act. This is because of their inability to use English language effectively in order to achieve a specific purpose and to understand it in context which in turn may lead to pragmatic failure (Thomas, 1983). In the field of ccompliment responses, Native speakers of English might consider the way Arabic speakers respond to compliments offending or bizarre, because they understood only the words without the cultural rules that govern them and vice versa. (Al Falasi, 2007:29) Studies on Compliment

Responses Nelson (1993) investigated Egyptian and American compliments using both qualitative and quantitative methodology. Farghal and Al-Khatibb (2001) provides a preliminary analysis from a pragmatic and sociolinguistic point of view, of compliment responses in Jordanian Arabic as they are used by Jordanian college students. It focuses upon the relation of the individuals sexual identity to her/his compliment behavior and the attitudes and values attached to it. Al Falasi (2007) conducted a study which aims at finding out whether Arabic learners of English (Emarati Females in particular) produce target like compliment responses in English and whether pragmatic transfer can occur. The study The present study is a continuation of this line of research.

It is an investigation of the way native speakers of Arabic, in this case Iraqi postgraduates at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), respond to compliments, whether they can produce target like compliment responses and is there an evidence of pragmatic transfer. When speaking in English, will Iraqi postgraduates compliment responses be closer to Arabic or English? As they come to study at a university abroad to obtain a degree in a specific field, and to work in that field, they do not focus on the pragmatic function of English language but on the use of that language to access knowledge in their respective academic fields. Yet, these students encounter situations in real life in which pragmatic competence comes into play. Responding to compliments is one of these situations.

Subjects (Iraqis) 25 Iraqis served as the subjects for this study The whole group consists of males, aged between 25 and 39 They all are Iraqi native speakers of Arabic. They all had studied English for 12 years in government schools in Iraq before joining the university. None of the them have ever travelled to any English-speaking country other than Malaysia. The subjects are confined to postgraduates at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), both master

and doctoral degree for the year 2007/2008. For the sake of homogeneity, the subjects are confined to both pure science and applied science field of studies. The subjects have been staying in Malaysia for a period of time between 6 months to one year. They are pursuing studies in a subject not related to languages or linguistics. Instrument The data for this study will come from participant compliments response on a Discourse Completion Test (DCT), which was used in study by Zhang (2008). Subjects are provided with situations and are then asked to supply what they would say in them. four situational settings relating to four different topics were employed: ability, appearance, character and possession:

Discourse Completion Test (DCT) 1. You have just finished presenting your research paper. At the end of the class (when you were just leaving the classroom), one of your classmates say: You did an excellent job! I really enjoyed your presentation. 2. Your friends have organized a party to celebrate the end of the semester. Youve dressed up for the party. As you arrive at the party one of your friends says: Hey, you look great! Youre really handsome/ beautiful today. 3. You have helped your friends (a couple) to look after their child for whole day at your place. When they come to pick up the child, they say: Thank you! Youre really helpful, patient and caring. 4. You have bought a new mobile phone. When you receive a call, your friend notices that your phone is a different one. Having looked at it and tried some functions, s/he says: Wow, how smart! My mobile does not have such functions. It is really great!

Coding scheme The data were analyzed using the coding categories established by Herbert (1986 & 1990) A. Agreement I. Acceptances 1. Appreciation Token 2. Comment Acceptance 3. Praise my eyes, II. Comment History III. Transfers 1. Reassignment 2. Return B. Nonagreement I. Scale Down II. Question III. Nonacceptances 1. Disagreement 2. Qualification IV. No Acknowledgement C. Other Interpretations I. Request Thanks; thank you; [smile] Thanks, its my favorite too. Upgrade Really brings out the blue in doesnt it? I bought it for the trip to .

My brother gave it to me. Sos yours. Its really quite old. Do you really think so? I hate it. Its all right, but Lens is nicer. [silence] You wanna borrow this one too? Results : Compliment responses in four situations Most used compliment responses in four situations (%) (N=25) Compliment responses Frequency S1 % Frequency S2 % Frequency S3

% Frequency S4 % appreciation token 25 100.0 22 88.0 6 24.0 10 40.0 agreeing

3 12.0 - - - - 9 36.0 Return 2 8.0 13 52.0 4

16.0 1 4.0 Scale down 1 4.0 1 4.0 1 4.0 1 4.0 request 1

4.0 2 8.0 - - 1 4.0 others 1 4.0 2 8.0 4 16.0

7 28.0 informative - - 1 4.0 2 8.0 6 24.0 Disagreement - -

1 4.0 7 28.0 - - Question - - 2 8.0 - - -

- Qualification - - - - 9 36.0 - - Advice - - -

- - - 1 4.0 offer - - - - - - 7 28.0

Compliment responses in four situations Situation One 25 20 15 10 5 0 Situation two Situation three Situation four Some examples of Compliment responses used by respondents: The use of advice and suggestions Thank you, should buy one. Thank you, you should consider buying one . You should get one. I advice you to buy one. The use of return Thank you, you look beautiful too.

Thank you, you handsome too. Thank you very much, you can do the best also. You look great too. I think you seem handsome too. Wish I wish you can get like it. I wish you will do better. Reassurance Really? I am handsome today Informative /history comment I just bought this dress from the shop in front of my school. Its a new generation of mobile. Agreeing Thats why I bought it. Yes, thank you. Evidence of transfer When responding to compliments in English, Iraqi postgraduates reflect their L1 behavior to some extent. The use of offers, as in Arabic one can say: maddam ([It is]

presented [to you]), offering the object of the compliment to the complimenter. This offer comes in a formulaic expression and is not likely to be accepted. It is an expected polite response to certain compliments. The complimenter typically says: shukran! Ala saahibtu ahiaa (Thank you! It looks much nicer on its owner) or Tithanni fiiha. InshaaLLaah tihriiha bi-l-hanaa (May you enjoy it. May you, God willing, wear it out in happiness). Examples: Thank you, you can take it. Thanks, take it if you want. Do you need it, if so I can give you as a gift because you are my friend. Its for you if you needed. Really, I can give it for you as a gift. Even when accepting a compliment, Arabs tend to return the compliment (which might sound insincere to NSs), or insist on offering the object of the compliment to the speaker (something that might be embarrassing to the NSs who did not expect this behavior). (Hessa,2007:31)

Conclusions This study has investigated the way Iraqis respond to compliments in English and explored the kinds of response types preferred by subjects. It is found that the group employed a variation in the use of strategies responding to compliments elicited by situational setti Pragmatic transfer does exist in compliment responses in English by Iraqi postgraduates . This is due to Iraqis lack of knowledge of different sociolinguistic rules among cultures and then dependence on their L1 sociocultural norm in realizing speech acts in L2 (i.e., pragmatic transfer) can cause intercultural misunderstanding and lead to serious consequences. Implication Iraqi postgraduates tend to have difficulty understanding the intended

meaning communicated by a speech act (i.e. responding to compliments), or producing a speech act using appropriate language and manner in English. The study recommends second language teachers to help learners enhance their knowledge or competence of appropriate use of speech acts in the target language. The enhanced intercultural competence is necessary for not only avoiding communication errors, but also for establishing a fertile ground for increased interaction between native speakers of English and their non-native interlocutors. Therefore, in teaching English as a foreign or a second language, it is important to present the authentic models in the context to the learners. In addition, learners should be trained to recognize the context, and be able to choose appropriate forms, strategies based on the contextualized cues; and teachers should provide opportunities for students to practice using what they have learned. There are so many creative ways to give or response to compliments If you need to response to a compliment but aren't sure how to start, then you've come to the right site!

http://www.ehow.com/ How to Accept a Compliment With Tact How to Give a Compliment How to Pay a Compliment How to Give and Receive a Compliment Finally. Pass on the kindness. For every compliment you're paid, compliment another person. Sincere compliments have a way of coming back to you. Thank You!

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