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Exercise 5: Cross-Cultural Comparison of Compliments


Now let’s shift gears and think how a dinner table conversation might be in English. Imagine an informal dinner party a married couple is having at their home. Supposing that the wife cooked, how would the husband and the guests compliment her on the wonderful meal? Write down what they might say below.

1. Guests:


2. Husband:

Listen to the sample dialogues in Japanese below and compare how they might be similar to and/or different from typical interactions in English.

Listen to Sample Dialogue 1


Listen to Sample Dialogue 2

Japanese speakers tend to avoid complimenting other family members, or reject (or downgrade) compliments to family members in the presence of a third party. Listen to other examples.

Suppose that the guests find a family picture in the living room.

Click to Listen to Sample Dialogue 3


Suppose that the hosts and the guests are talking about their children.

Click to Listen to Sample Dialogue 4

Here are the transcripts of the exchanges above.

Sample Dialogue 1 Transcript

Sample Dialogue 2 Transcript

Sample Dialogue 3 Transcript

Sample Dialogue 4 Transcript

3. What might explain why Japanese speakers avoid complimenting their own family members in these situations? How should you interpret such behavior?

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