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Compliments in Japanese

Oval Callout: Wow, you look great!


Contents in Compliments Unit:

As you move through examples and exercises, you will learn about compliments and responses to compliments in Japanese.

A compliment in English often functions as a “social lubricant,” helping the social relationships to go smoothly. How are compliments used in Japanese culture? Are there any taboos in giving a compliment? Also, Japanese speakers are known for rejecting compliments, but how accurate is this statement? What strategies can we use for responding to compliments?

Exercises 1-2: Observing Compliments in Japanese

Compliments about appearance or possessions, as well as those about ability or performance are commonly heard in Japanese as in English. However, there are likely to be cultural differences between the two languages as you perform speech acts. In these exercises, see what insights you can come up with as to how compliments are given in Japanese.

Go to Exercise 1

Go to Exercise 2

Exercises 3: Identifying Recipients of Compliments

You may need to be careful about what you compliment someone on in Japanese and how you do it. This exercise will help you identify appropriate and inappropriate compliments for your interlocutors.

Go to Exercise 3

Exercise 4: Complimenting Expressions

Just as in any other language, certain adjectives, adverbs, and phrases are commonly used in compliments in Japanese.  What are these words and phrases, and how are they used?

Go to Exercise 4

   Coffee Break

Beware of the nicest compliments – you never know what’s coming next!

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Exercise 5: Cross-Cultural Comparison of Compliments

Let’s take a dinner table conversation for example and see how complimenting behavior might vary in English and Japanese.  Also, see what reasons lie behind the similar and different complimenting patterns in the two languages.

Go to Exercise 5

Exercise 6: Responses to Compliments

You might have been taught to refuse compliments you receive in Japanese. However, Japanese speakers do not always refuse all the compliments they receive! What are various other strategies you could use in response to compliments?  

Go to Exercise 6

Exercise 7: Compliment Response Strategies

As we have seen, there are a number of strategies you can use in response to compliments. In this exercise, we’ll focus in on these strategies and analyze the language. 

Go to Exercise 7

Exercises 8: Tone of Compliments

As with any other speech acts, your tone of voice could either make your compliment sound either genuine or insincere. Listen and practice so that the compliment you give sounds genuine.

Go to Exercise 8

Exercises 9-10: Simulation Exercises for Giving and Responding to Compliments

Now let’s just practice all that we have learned about compliments and responses to compliments! You will be asked to self-evaluate your utterances in these exercises.

Go to Exercise 9

Go to Exercise 10

Revisiting Useful Links

Ex1 Comments

Ex2 Comments

Ex5 Comments

Ex6 Comments

Ex7 Comments

Ex7 Strategies Summary

Ex9 Comments

Ex10 Comments

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