Macquarie University
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The effect of Australian culture on compliment responses of mainland Chinese speakers of English

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:24 authored by Xiutao Li
Chinese learners of English encounter great difficulty in obtaining pragmatic knowledge of the language. Cross-cultural miscommunication may arise when Chinese speakers of English transfer their pragmatic knowledge and sociocultural norms from L1 to L2. This study fits into the field of intercultural and interlanguage pragmatics, and fills research gaps by investigating how Chinese speakers of English approximate to language use in the Australian target environment in their compliment responses (CRs). Gender and compliment topic are the main variables considered. Compliment responses offer a useful channel for exploring sociocultural norms attached to them. Though many empirical studies on complimenting behaviours have been conducted, over-simplicity of questionnaires, translation issues, complimenter gender issues, and spontaneous aspects of speech behaviours, have not been duly addressed. This study explores approximation toward the target culture by Chinese learners of English as a Second Language (ESL) in Australia in their compliment responses in English. Mixed methods were employed to collect data from three groups of participants (Chinese in China, Chinese in Australia, and monolingual Australians). Major results of this research include a description of approximation phenomena among Chinese ESL learners in an intercultural context. The results add new insights to intercultural pragmatic research by updating existing theoretical frameworks in intercultural communication, revealing challenges in categorising speech acts in an intercultural context, raising questions with respect to describing change in language use by ESL learners caused by direct contact with the target environment, and discarding misassumptions and stereotypes held by ESL learners. The findings from this study may serve as facilitating materials for ESL teachers and learners in achieving a more comprehensive understanding of what is happening in their L2 use in light of the effect of an intercultural environment. Finally, cross-cultural communicators may find the results useful in accounting for similarities and differences in diverse communication styles.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Relevant theories and concepts -- Chapter 3. Responding to compliments -- Chapter 4. Methodology -- Chapter 5. DCT data analysis -- Chapter 6. Interview data analysis -- Chapter 7. Role play data analysis -- Chapter 8. Results - discovering and describing changes in language use -- Chapter 9. Conclusion.


Bibliography: pages 266-280 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of International Studies, Languages and Cultures

Department, Centre or School

Department of International Studies, Languages and Cultures

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Martina Mòˆllering

Additional Supervisor 1

Shirley Chan


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