Face-enhancing compliments in informal conversations in Valencian Spanish

María Jesús Barros García

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7557/1.7.1.4315

Keywords

politeness; face-enhancing; compliments; Valencian Spanish; informal conversations

Abstract

This article presents the results of an analysis conducted on politeness in informal conversations in Peninsular Spanish; more specifically, on the use of compliments in casual Valencian Spanish with face-enhancing effects. Face-enhancing compliments typically have the primary function of constituting and reinforcing the face of the addressee. The compliments that were analyzed consisted of positive comments about the complimentees’ belongings, people related to them, their actions, and their qualities. Most of these face-enhancing compliments were exchanged in situations defined by a high degree of communicative immediacy (Koch & Oesterreicher 1985) and conventionality. The settings where these compliments were produced, plus their discursive, structural and formal features, illustrate their formulaic nature. Among the most important of these features is the fact that there is a predominance of face-enhancing compliments (1) formulated as declarative, copulative and exclamatory sentences; (2) containing a short repertoire of adjectives with a positive meaning; (3) modified by intensifiers that help to reinforce and guarantee the face-enhancing effect of the speech act; (4) consisting of isolated utterances; (5) occupying a second turn position in adjacency pairs; and (6) that were rarely responded to with direct acceptances by their addressees.

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