This study investigates the pragmatic transfer Chinese Latter-day Saint (LDS) missionaries speaking English display when responding to compliments in English conversations. Previous studies have shown that native American English speakers have a higher rate of compliment acceptance in their compliment response (CR) strategies. While, native Chinese speakers have a higher rate of denial in their CRs (. A common research question is whether or not CR strategies transfer from a Chinese English speaker's first language (L1) into their English conversations. To measure this, 40 missionaries from the LDS church participated in naturalized role plays. Half were native Chinese (10 male, 10 female), and the other half were native American (10 male and 10 female). Each missionary participated in two role play situations, once with a male researcher and once with a female researcher. These role plays were conducted in English. In each role play the researcher complimented the participant in four areas: 1) ability, 2) native culture/hometown, 3) the LDS church, 4) a small possession (e.g. watch, tie, skirt, etc). CRs were recorded then organized on a CR continuum. A series of univariate and related measures ANOVAs was used to measure significance. Results suggest that Chinese missionaries tend to downgrade and disagree with compliments more than American missionaries. Additionally, female Chinese missionaries tend to overgeneralize using the appreciation token when responding to compliments. Other significant findings include the effect of gender and compliment topic on the missionaries' CR strategies.



College and Department

Humanities; Linguistics and English Language



Date Submitted


Document Type





Compliment responses, Chinese ELLs, pragmatic transfer, pragmatic failure, gender

Included in

Linguistics Commons