Development of pragmatic competence: Compliment responses by L2 learners of Chinese



Publication Details

Gao, X. (2017). Development of pragmatic competence: Compliment responses by L2 learners of Chinese. In I. Kecskes & C. Sun (Eds.), Key Issues in Chinese as a Second Language Research (pp. 237-266). New York, United States: Routledge.

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Compliment responses (CRs) are among the most studied speech acts in pragmatics (C hen, 2010a). The CR studies have largely used speech acts (i.e., the acts that the speaker performs when making utterances and their effects on the listener) as an effective approach to mirror "speakers' reaction to external appraisals of their personal and social identity" (Lorenzo-Dus, 2001, p. 108). Starting with Pomerantz's qualitative account of native American English speakers' CRs (1978 ), this line of research has been conducted with native speakers of over 20 languages across Indo-European languages (English, German, Spanish, French, Finnish, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese), East Asian languages (Chinese, Korean, Japanese), and Mid-East languages (Arabic, Persian) (see Chen , 2010a; Golato, 2003, 2005 for more details). This phenomenon partly reflects the significant role of CRs in serving to "create or maintain rapport" in everyday interactions (Wolf son, 1983, p. 86; Mane s, 1983, p. 97; Herbert, 1990, p. 202) and their function as "social lubricants" in facilitating social communications (Holmes, 1988, p. 486). It is partly because the existing studies yield inconsistent and considerably variable findings. Among these studies, Chinese is the second most studied language, next only to the seven varieties of English1. While the existing studies have made great contributions to the theoretical development in pragmatics and cross-cultural communications by providing evidence of Chinese CR strategies, few studies have examined the CRs of learners of Chinese as a second/ foreign language (CSL/CFL).

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