Commentary on Review
Write a critical review of Wolfson's article, 'Compliments in Cross-Cultural Perspective'. In your review you should summarise the text and then evaluate it (800 words)
Academic Style and Conventions
1. Analysing the topic Notice how the topic is asking students to do two things - to summarise the text and to evaluate it. When reading a text, keep these two points in mind: - What is the text saying? (summary) - What do I think about what it's saying? (evaluation) 2. The text being reviewed Always commence your review by including the full bibliographic details of the work under review. 3. Introduction The opening sentence of the review should be relevant to the broad issues of the topic, without resorting to cliché.
Wolfson, N. (1981). Compliments in Cross-Cultural Perspective. TESOL Quarterly, 15(2), Jun, 117-124. Teaching how to communicate effectively is now seen as a major goal of language teachers, both those teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) and second-language learning in general. The differences in norms of interaction between cultures, as explored in Hymes' work on the ethnography of speaking (1962), have since been highlighted through further sociolinguistic work. Such work includes an investigation into the formal instruction of the speech acts of giving and responding to compliments (Ishihara, 2004) and an examination of inductive and deductive approaches for teaching compliments and compliment responses (Rose & Kwai-fong, 2001). In the article Compliments in Cross-Cultural Perspective, Wolfson explores the speech act of complimenting, specifically in regards to its utility for second-language learners of English, through analysis of the semantic and syntactic structures of compliments. With her colleague, Joan Manes, Wolfson analysed complimenting behaviour in American English, and has, in addition, constructed a corpus of compliments used by non-native speakers in interactions with members of their own speech communities. With this data, Wolfson has concluded that speech acts, and compliments in particular, may often vary considerably across cultures, and there may not be consensus, conscious or otherwise, about what is classed as a compliment even within the same language community. In order to support this contention, Wolfson presents translated examples of compliments from speakers of languages other than English, to illustrate the linguistic and pragmatic differences between the complimenting behaviour of speakers of American English and non-Americans. She states that, in Indonesian, for example, mentioning a friend's purchase of a sewing machine or recent completion of grocery shopping functions as complimenting an addressee, as one is showing approval of the addressee's accomplishments. In contrast, a similar compliment given to an American may not be construed as it is intended, as a compliment. Wolfson subsequently advises against being too hasty in concluding that the speech acts of complimenting are identical in Japanese and Wolfson adds that American societies, due to the similarities in their complimenting behaviours. miscomprehension often works in both directions, in that non-Americans may construe compliments in American English as being insulting rather than flattering. A contrast between the use of compliments in American English, Persian and Arabic, for example, shows that speakers of the latter two languages often employ proverbs or precoded ritualised phrases for complimenting. Americans do not generally use proverbs in this manner for complimenting, and in fact rely on a very restricted group of lexical and syntactic structures, the majority (80%) of which, are adjectival in nature. Of the 72 adjectives identified in the corpus, five - nice, good, beautiful, pretty and great - account for around two-thirds of all the adjectival compliments. In regards to verbs, like and love...