Analysis of gender differences in implicit verbal compliments in semi-spontaneous speech of four american talk shows
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The present research focuses on the implicit compliments among the native speakers of American English. The pioneering research by Manes and Wolfson (1981) revealed that verbal compliments in middle-‐class American society are “formulaic”, meaning that a small variety of constructions accounts for the majority of the data. Since then, existing research has focused almost exclusively on the explicit compliments and appears to have adopted a restricted view of the gender differences in verbal complimenting behaviour. This work argues that a more balanced picture of complimenting is required, and to this end, presents discourse and conversation analysis of 40 samples of implicit compliments, produced by male and female TV presenters of 4 American talk-‐shows. By taking a stance of the “difference” approach to gender discourse (e.g. Tannen, 1991), it attempts at discovering gender-‐based differences between their topics, linguistic realisation and functions. Overall showing a significant distinction between the use of implicit compliments by men and women in terms of their form and function, and an asymmetry in their topics, the research makes a contribution to the existing work on discourse and gender. On the one hand, it adds new perspectives and findings about the difference in the ways men and women construct conversations and build social relations through complimenting. On the other hand, it shows how a shift from explicitness to implicitness in evaluative language allows the speakers to deal with topics not commonly associated with gender expectations.
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