Teachers’ Use of Compliments as Linguistic Politeness Strategies during Classroom Interaction: The Case of Selected Secondary Schools in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Ishmail Mwambapa, Erasmus Akiley Msuya


This article appraises teachers’ use of compliments as linguistic politeness strategies (PSs) in a non-native English-speaking community. It is guided by Brown and Levinson’s (1987) Politeness Theory and Austin’s (1962) Speech Act Theory. The paper uses materials recorded in 32 lessons by 16 teachers of different subjects which took place in selected secondary schools in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Purposive sampling was used to obtain the participants. Data was collected through classroom observation and interview. Results show that the teachers used a variety of compliments as linguistic PSs, including compliments, compliments with gratitude, and compliments with congratulatory notes. By so doing, they positively influenced various aspects of the classroom interaction, for example raising students’ feeling of being admired by their teachers, promoting students’ confidence, encouraging active participation in lessons, and promoting students’ relaxation. This study traced the use of compliments as linguistic PSs using cross-sectional data; future studies may examine longitudinal data to unearth a number of key issues with regard to compliment use.

Keywords: Compliments, face-saving strategies, politeness theory, linguistic politeness strategies, face-saving strategies, speech acts

DOI: 10.56279/jlle.v16i2.5

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 [ISSN 0856-9965 (Print)]