Submission note: "A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Linguistics [to the] Graduate School of Education, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria"
This thesis analyses and compares compliment functions, compliment formulas, compliment topics and compliment responses by native Vietnamese speakers and native Australian English speakers based on natural observation. The basic roles of compliments in the two cultures are similar. However, in Vietnamese, compliments are also used to express deference. There is strong evidence of formulaicity in compliments in both Australian English and Vietnamese, but there are also distinctions between the two sets of data due to differences in the two grammar systems. Similar broad topics of compliments: appearance, performance, personality and possessions are found in the corpus. However, the big gaps in frequencies of occurrence across appearance and performance by the two groups of informants suggest different hierarchies of values in the two cultures. More pronounced differences are found in compliment responses. Australian and Vietnamese compliment responses cover a continuum of the responses: Accept, Deflect/Evade, Downgrade and Deny. Approximately equal frequencies are found in the Deflect/Evade strategy. However, Australians accept compliments more often while the Vietnamese tend to employ Downgrade and Deny responses. This may be explained by the strong influence of modesty in Vietnamese society. Both groups make use of non-verbal responses, but the wider range of Vietnamese non-verbal responses and the complexity of their interpretation may be attributed to the ambiguous nature of this Asian communication style. The findings, which indicate similarities and differences in Australian English and Vietnamese compliments may be found useful in the English teaching situation in Vietnam and in the teaching of Vietnamese to Australians. They provide an empirical base for material writing and course design. In addition, they can assist in explaining differences in culture-related issues.
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