Pragmatics and ethnolinguistics of compliment. Compliment responses in Novara and Grottaglie


Abstract – This study analyzes differences and apparent similarities between two corpora of compliments elicited in two different Italian towns, Novara and Grottaglie. After a short introduction on the speech act of complimenting, the two corpora are presented. They consist in a total of 104 spontaneous compliment responses (CRs), collected by the author of this work by recording spontaneous conversations. The CRs have been categorized using the typology proposed in Castagneto and Ravetto (in press). Unlike other works in the literature on compliments, the goal of this analysis is not only to compare CRs in two different varieties of a language, but also to point out how a complex speech act like complimenting cannot be understood or interpreted without considering its role and function within the specific culture. In fact, a purely linguistic comparison of the data would not have highlighted important differences between the two groups which, on the other hand, come to the surface when we look at the data with an ethnolinguistic approach. Indeed, in Grottaglie, complimenting is a dangerous act that can cast an evil-eye on the complimentee.

Keywords: pragamatics, ethnolinguistics, compliment responses, Italian.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v11p225


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