Mashallah…; may Allah bless you: the sociopragmatics of giving and responding to compliments in the Hijazi Saudi dialect

Alqahtani, Fahhad Eid F (2023) Mashallah…; may Allah bless you: the sociopragmatics of giving and responding to compliments in the Hijazi Saudi dialect. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis investigates the influence which sociocultural values and norms can have on performing compliment exchanges in the Hijazi Saudi dialect and show whether aspects of compliment exchanges can be correlated with social variables such as gender, age and relationship. Using the field observation method and a note-taking tool, data based on real-life interactions were gathered from various social settings in Jeddah city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

A database of 390 compliments and 482 compliment responses was compiled and classified in terms of gender, age and relationship. Compliments were investigated in terms of compliment topics, syntactic patterns, directness and indirectness, and the sociocultural phraseologies used in giving compliments. Responses were categorized in terms of response strategies and their correlations with gender, age and relationship.

The examination of 390 compliments showed that compliments occurred far more frequently in same-gender exchanges than in cross-gender exchanges. Appearance was the most frequent topic over all on which Hijazi people gave compliments. Appearance was the most frequent topic used by females, whereas performance/skill was the most frequent topic for the males. The young group also tended to focus on the appearance topic, while performance/skill was the most frequent topic for the middle-aged and elder groups.

(Mashallah) (ADV) (INT) NP (INT) ADJ (mashallah) was the most common syntactic pattern used among Hijazi people in giving compliments. Ijnan ‘stunning’, raw’ah/rai’a ‘wonderful’, ti’aim ‘tasty’, lazeez ‘delicious’, wala ghaltah ‘flawless’, and fakhmah ‘fancy’ were the most common adjectives used in the dataset. Intensifiers such as merrah ‘very’, haqiqi ‘really’ and harfyean ‘literally’ were top words used most frequently in giving compliments. Moreover, the findings showed that Hijazi people used explicit (direct) compliments more frequently than implicit (indirect) compliments. Mashallah, ‘may Allah’s grace be upon you’, allahuma salli ala a-nabi ‘Allah’s prayers be upon the prophet’, and tabarak allah ‘bless Allah’ tended to be unique markers for Hijazi speakers as the most frequent religious expressions used in giving compliments. Hijazi speakers believe that using such ritualistic phrases will drive the evil eye away and prevent any potential threats to the complimentee’s negative face.

The examination of 482 compliment responses showed that appreciation token ranked first as the most frequent response strategy, followed by invocation and blessing. The findings showed that there were other responses which occurred in the Hijazi dialect such as evil-eye (envy) protection and request interpretation. Furthermore, the results revealed that Hijazi speakers used single responses more frequently than complex responses. The Appreciation token + return compliment complex response was on the top preferences, followed by the invocation and blessing + return compliment complex response.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PJ Afroasiatic and Sumerian languages and literatures > PJ0991 Afroasiatic languages
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2023 11:00
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2023 11:00

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