Compliment Analysis

Over the weekend, I kept a record of a few compliments that I received in order to analyze what they meant in terms of language.  I kept record of 5 compliments as that, I felt, would give a good variety of compliments.  This, unfortunately, was not the case and almost all 5 were about something physical.  The people I received these compliments from ranged from my friends, my family and my girlfriend.  I hadn’t recorded any of my responses, however, one method of response to compliments is, as I explored in my previous post, pragmatics.  In Working With Spoken Discourse, Cameron states that “pragmatics is the field of inquiry that deals with how language can be used to do things and mean things in real-world situations” (p. 68).  In looking at these compliments using this system of language analysis, it seems as though these compliments were said in order to accomplish a goal; to evoke an emotion.


As seen in the first compliment, saying someone has a “cool shirt” can be a way to evoke a positive response and, by extension, a positive emotion.  A pattern I noticed when looking at these compliments is that there was in fact a pattern where all of them had to deal with something physical or addressed a physical aspect.

3 thoughts on “Compliment Analysis

  1. I am curious to see why it is more common for individuals to compliment on something physical or address a physical aspect. Do you think that physiologically it is easier for someone to compliment on a physical aspect or was it just coincidence that all your compliments were? Likewise, I am interested to hear about the context of each compliment.

  2. Something I noticed in your five recorded compliments was the very descriptive, abnormal vocabulary used in the second one. I’m curious about the context of this compliment: was it given to you from your girlfriend? a random stranger? a sarcastic friend? There’s something about the blatant comment on your physique that’s out of the norm, like the pragmatics behind it was different, if that makes sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *