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Pointing out a merit

This straightforward communicative goal figures largely on the male value system (71% of the contexts we have analysed), whereas for women it seems to dwindle in importance (only 18% of our corpus). The appraisal strategy is the primary pragmatic means employed in order to accomplish this goal, and its tactical structure is shown in Figure 3-3.

Figure 3-3: The tactical structure of the appraisal strategy in compliment discourse

As Figure 3-3 demonstrates, the direct and indirect compliment tactics are readily used by men and women respectively, which conforms to the general gender characteristics of the male and female discourse we have outlined earlier. The first two tactics are inevitably centred on appearances, whereas the transferred-compliment tactics can be used in relation to a whole number of features of the object of appraisal, not necessarily their appearances. Below are some examples of the appraisal strategy in action:

  • (5) “You”, she took a deep breath, “are a kind, caring and incredibly thoughtful friend who I respect and appreciate” (Ahern 2007: 466) (the direct compliment tactics used by a female speaker);
  • (6) “You are still the best-looking bride, the dress is just perfect!” (Walker 2007: 45)

In (6), where the transferred-compliment tactics is used by a woman, the object of appraisal is not characterized directly, but through something she is wearing.

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