We Are All Upper Class in L2: Complimenting in L1 vs. L2

Safa Evazzade, Azade Katal


The knowledge of how and to whom one may offer a compliment, as well as the ability to interpret the social meanings implicit in compliments, is one of the crucial issues to the development of communicative competence of learners of a second language (Holmes and Brown, 1987). Although Wolfson (1981), Manes (1983), Herbert (1990), Heidari, Eslami Rasekh & Rezazade (2009) and others have done a number of studies on disclosing this knowledge, little attention has been devoted to exploring it in the context of social issues like social class or social status. To this end, this study investigates the different patterns of expressing compliment used by the EFL learners of different social classes in Iran. 40 Iranian teenage EFL learners (20 from upper middle class and 20 from working class) who were all intermediate level students participated in the study.
One of the major findings of the study was that language learners’ social class seems to be neutralized in second language context; in other words, both working class and upper class learners make use of the same formulas in expressing compliment. Therefore, while first language mirrors the social class of the learners, the second language conceals it.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v4i3.2374

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