Compliments in Taiwan and Mainland Chinese: The Influence of Region and Compliment Topic

Wei Ren Chih Ying Lin, Helen P Woodfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
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Situated in a recently established field of variational pragmatics (Schneider and Barron, 2008), this study investigates one of the under-researched non-Indo-European languages, Chinese, with regard to the influence of macro-social and micro-social factors on compliments. More specifically, the present study focuses on the impact of region, a macro-social variable, and compliment topic, a micro-social factor, on Chinese compliments given by Taiwan Chinese and Mainland Chinese higher education students. Sixty Taiwanese and sixty Mainland Chinese, equally gendered in each group, completed a written discourse completion task consisting of eight content-enriched situations (Billmyer and Varghese, 2000) eliciting compliments. With regard to the impact of region, commonalities emerged between those compliments of Chinese students in Taiwan and Mainland China. Both groups preferred to offer Explicit compliments as well as Implicit compliments in the form of Requests, Assumptions, and Want Statements. Overall, Explicit compliments emerged as the most popular strategy. However, statistically significant differences were identified between the two groups in a few Implicit compliment strategies. Regarding the effect of compliment topic, both Taiwan and Mainland Chinese students utilized several compliment strategies in similar ways across appearance/possession and performance/ability situations. It appears that in most cases, it was compliment topic rather than the variety of Chinese which modulated the compliments by both groups. In addition, the paper suggests that compliments in Taiwan and Mainland Chinese may have undergone a change, possibly influenced by western cultures.
Translated title of the contributionCompliments in Taiwan and Mainland Chinese: The Influence of Region and Compliment Topic
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1486-1502
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number11
Early online date3 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Elsevier
Other identifier: forthcoming


  • Chinese compliments; Regional effect; Compliment topic


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