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A study of the difference between males and females in their realization patterns of compliments and compliment responses in Chinese context

Quan Lihong  
【摘要】:Compliments are positive speech acts, which are used to express friendship and increase rapport between people. A range of previous studies of compliments and compliment responses has shown that this speech act set is actually more complicated and revealing than it appears, in terms of the relation between language, society and culture. It is proven that certain social and individual variables, such as age, gender, level of education, social status and social relationship between the interlocutors exert influence on the use of this speech act set. The purpose of this study is to examine whether there are any differences between men and women in their realization patterns of compliments and compliment responses. The study has two aims: (1). to prove the hypothesis that there is significant relationship between the variable梘ender and the production / selection of compliment and compliment response strategies and compliment formulas utilized by respondents; (2). to explore the reasons why there exist gender differences in language using. The study is based on the analytical framework established by Herbert (1989) and Ye (1995), which is modified by the author for the fulfillment of the purpose of the present study. The data are elicited by the means of the open-ended questionnaire called DCT. The subjects involved are a group of 120 Chinese College students, with 60 males and 60 females. Of the 120 answer sheets, 112 are valid. The statistical results show that, on the whole, there exist significant differences between men and women in performing this speech act set. Women tend to use more Explicit Compliments than men do, while men tend to apply more Implicit Compliments, Non-Compliments and No Response than women do. Men and women demonstrate slight difference in using compliment fonnulas. Women tend to use more adjectives, whereas men tend to apply more nouns. Men and women also show distinct differences in using compliment response strategies. Women tend to apply more Acceptance than men, while more men tend to choose out. Therefore, our null hypothesis can be rejected that there is no significant relationship between gender and the realization patterns of this speech act set. We can further assume that females tend to be more polite in performing this speech act set by using more polite strategies. This might be because men and women view compliments differently. Men tend to interpret compliments as face threatening acts, whilst women tend to apply them as strategies for maintaining solidarity. And although both males and females have face wants, their degrees of the sensitivity to face wants are different. We can explain these differences from both social and cultural perspectives. Men and women differ in language use because they often fill different roles in society. Men’s dominant position in society leads them to use more assertive speech style. Whereas women tend to use more polite and standard speech style because they aspire to a better social status. Furthennore, education serves as an important factor in gender difference in language using. Boys and girls are taught to learn their gender-appropriate linguistic behavior during their childhood. Hence, men learn to be men and women learn to be women, linguistically speaking. Finally, with the development of the society, women’s social position has been improved a lot. Society shows more and more concern and respect to women. These are ref

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