Paying compliments: A sex-preferential politeness strategy

Citations of this article
Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
Get full text


This paper examines women's and men's complimenting behaviour, exploring the function of compliments on the one hand as positively affective speech acts and exemplary positive politeness strategies, and on the other as potentially face threatening acts. Using a corpus of over 450 compliment exchanges, an analysis is provided of the distribution of compliments between women and men and some methodological considerations relating to the sex of the researcher are briefly discussed. The syntactic patterns and topics characterizing the compliments of female and male New Zealanders are described; the relative status as well as the sex of givers and receivers of compliments is examined, and responses to compliments are categorized according to their function as well as the responder's sex. The findings are related to the hypothesis that compliments may serve different functions in women's and men's interaction. © 1988.




Holmes, J. (1988). Paying compliments: A sex-preferential politeness strategy. Journal of Pragmatics, 12(4), 445–465.

Register to see more suggestions

Mendeley helps you to discover research relevant for your work.

Already have an account?

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free