Differences in English Compliment Responses between Native English Speakers and Chinese English Learners

Wen-Hsin Chen


This research discusses the compliment responses of Chinese-speaking English learners in the United States by using the conversation analysis methods. I compared the examples collected for this study to Pomerantz's (1978) data for compliment responses made by native speakers of American English. The participants were sixteen Chinese ESL learners. The primary result was that some compliment responses used by Chinese-speaking English learners were similar to those of native speakers of American English. Most of the time, Chinese-speaking English learners chose to accept the compliments with or without referent shifts. Even though they sometimes chose to disagree with the speaker, they would incorporate other-than-you references in their expressions. Nevertheless, Chinese-speaking English learners used "really?" or "oh really?" as one of their responses, which is quite different from American English.

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