Journal of Humanities

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A Socio-pragmatic analysis of compliment responses among students at the University of Botswana

Alfred J. Matiki, Naledi N. Kgolo


Using tape-recorded interviews as well as Discourse Completion Tasks on compliment responses as elicitation methods, this study set out to investigate the linguistic resources that students at the University of Botswana use in responding to compliments in English. It examined whether the Batswana respondents show any preference for certain types of compliment responses, and if such preferences are affected by such variables as level of education, sex and social status. By using Herbert’s (1986) taxonomy of compliment responses, the study has shown that subjects preferred to agree with their complimenters. It has demonstrated that the interlocutors’ level of education and sex were not significant factors in the choice of compliment response types. Recommendations for the teaching of the pragmatics of compliments in language contact situations, and especially in ESL classrooms, are made in light of these findings.

Keywords: compliment responses, pragmatics, speech act, Botswana, ESL

AJOL African Journals Online