The importance of developing the intercultural and

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1. Quizá tengas un poco de frío/ no sé/ ¿te gusta? 2. Sí. 1. ¿Te encuentras bien con ella? 2. Sí/ sí sí. 1. Te queda muy bien muy bien fenomenal. 2. Muy bonita sí ...

Dr. Ana Ramajo Cuesta Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi

The importance of developing the intercultural and pragmatic competence of learners of Colloquial Arabic Abstract Courtesy expressions play an important role in Arabic culture. Therefore, a learner should be aware of them in order to fully master the Arabic language. The current research studies compliment responses in Colloquial Arabic and their use in teaching Arabic as a foreign language. The first part of the research is a comparative ethnographic study on compliment responses in peninsular Spanish and in Lebanese Arabic. Secret recordings were used in order to register these communicative interactions and create a corpus formed with real language samples. In the second part of the study, a corpus of courtesy expressions comprising of all Arabic dialects is built. Formulaic expressions and invocations against the ‘evil eye’ are used in all the various Arabic dialects. This shows the relationship between language and culture in Arabic societies and the importance of introducing the pragmatic and intercultural competence when teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language. Keywords: Courtesy expressions, compliment/compliment responses, intercultural and pragmatic competence, colloquial Arabic.

1. Introdution Language and culture are bound together. Courtesy expressions are part of the beauty and richness of the Arabic language and they play an important role in Arab culture. According to Farha (1991: VII), courtesy expressions are truly the essence which makes the language itself sound so beautiful, and meaningful, and for the nonArab, they constitute a clue to the minds and hearts of its speakers. The correct use of the right expressions at the right time will open to the foreigner the door of friendship with Arab speakers. The learner of a foreign language may not be aware that cultural differences arise in courtesy expressions and speech acts and consequently this could lead to communication breakdowns. The importance of pragmatic errors is that they could be considered as part of the personality of the non-native speaker, whereas grammatical

errors are only considered as a lack of linguistic knowledge. Therefore, collecting and analysing speech acts in different cultures is necessary to prevent pragmatic failure. Speech acts differ cross-culturally not only in the way they are realized but also in their distribution, their frequency, and in the functions they serve (Wolfson, 1981:119).

2. Compliment and compliment responses In this study, the speech act of complimenting was chosen because of the important role it plays in human communication. Compliments strengthen solidarity between the speakers and are an explicit reflection of cultural values. Compliment behaviour aims at expressing appreciation and/or admiration of what others have or do in the course of communication. It constitutes an integral part of sociolinguistic competence and is one of the more important vehicles for the affective function (Farghal and Haggan, 2006: 95).

Knowing how to compliment is important, but it is equally important to know how to respond to a compliment (AlKhateeb, 2009). Addressing a compliment is easier than responding to it, as a compliment response requires, to an extent, mitigating the compliment received (Haverkate, 1994:92). A wrong response could lead to a negative pragmatic transfer and may cause intercultural communication breakdowns. 2.1. Compliments in Arabic Wolfson (1981) noted cultural differences in complimenting and observed that Arab-speakers compliment in the form of “proverbs and other precoded ritualized expressions”. The study of Nelson et al. (1993:310) on compliment responses in Egyptian Colloquial Arabic and American English found that although the two cultures share similarities in compliment form and attributes praised, Egyptian compliments use metaphors and comparatives and tend to be longer than American compliments”. The majority of previous studies on compliment responses in Arabic, focused on a comparative analysis between Colloquial Arabic and English or on the pragmatic competence of Arab learners of English. No previous study between courtesy expressions in Colloquial Arabic and Spanish has been found. Consequently, the purpose of the study is justified.

Jordanian Colloquial Arabic

Studies on compliment/compliment responses

Egyptian Colloquial ArabicAmerican English Syrian Colloquial ArabicAmerican English Kuwaiti learners of English: Kuwait Arabic-American English Saudi Arabic-English Palestinian learners of English

Farghal y Al-Khatib (2001), Migdadi (2003) Nelson et al. (1993) Nelson et al. (1996) Farghal y Haggan (2006) Enssaif (2005), Al-Humaidi (2006) AlKhateeb (2009)

Table 1. Previous studies on compliments responses in Colloquial Arabic.

2.2. Compliments and the ‘evil eye’ In Arab and Islamic societies, it is believed that a compliment could attract the ‘evil eye’ if it is not followed by expressions invoking God’s protection. Mughazy (1999) analyzes “Egyptians’ responses to compliments perceived as invocations of the ‘evil eye’ in an attempt to illustrate the responding strategies and describe the contextual factors that account for the use of such strategies in terms of social distance and gender differences”. 3. First part of the study: ethnographic study on compliment responses in peninsular Spanish and in Lebanese Colloquial Arabic The first part of the study is a comparative ethnographic study on compliment responses in peninsular Spanish and Lebanese Colloquial Arabic. Selected members of a Lebanese and a Spanish social network participated in the research. The independent variables are: origin, age and gender. The objective of the first part of the research is to analyse whether the speakers of peninsular Spanish and Lebanese Colloquial Arabic respond similarly to compliments on physical appearance, belongings and skills. The study also examines if the independent variables of “gender” and “age” cause variations in compliment responses. In both social networks, parallel communicative situations are created. The participants are linked by kinship or friendship and paid a compliment on the same topic. Secret recordings are used in order to register these communicative interactions

and create a corpus formed with natural conversations as illustrated in Table 2 below1. The corpus comprised 1382 compliment response sequences which were analysed following a taxonomy3 created by the researcher for the specific study of the Spanish and Lebanese corpora. Compliments on physical appearance 1. Son los pendientes 2. ¿Qué te has hecho? 3. ¡Nada!/ me corté el pelo hace ocho días o así. 1.Pues te quedó bien/

‫ ﷲ يخليلي ييك شو ھأل زرق ريتو ما يبلى وال ﺑنت‬1 ‫أرﺑعة عشر‬ ‫وقصة شعرك ريتو ما يبلى اي علما ً امتين قصيت‬ ‫شعرك؟‬

3. ¿Me lo dejaron bien? 1.Sí:

‫ من جمعة‬.2

3. ¿Seguro? 1.Que sí/ que está muy bien/

‫ يا ريتو نعيما ً يا ماما ولونھم كتير ضاﺑط يسلملي‬.1 ‫ھلعيون الزرق‬

3. Yo que me parece que me lo cortaron mucho/ 2.No/ está bien/

(Arabic. Physical Appearance: M+B+N)

3. ¿Me lo han dejado bien? 1.Sí:/ sí sí sí/ 3. Pues no me lo cortó la profe/ 1.(M:) 3. Una de las que están ahí en esta escuela/ 1.Sí/ ¿vas a la escuela siempre a cortarte el pelo? (…) (Spanish. Physical Appearance: 1+3+10+12)

Table 2. Example of compliments on physical appearance in Lebanese Colloquial Arabic and Peninsular Spanish.

As shown in Table 3, some recordings took place during Eid el Fitr in Lebanon and Los Reyes Magos4 in Spain as is frequent to compliment about new clothes in both feasts.


Participants in the recordings are linked by kinship (grandmother and mother in both social networks) and pay a compliment on the same topic (new haircut). 2 The 138 sequences were formed by 334 compliment responses. 3 See Ramajo Cuesta (2012:121). 4 This feast is celebrated on the 6th of January and it commemorates the arrival of the three kings in Bethlehem. Adults and children receive gifts during the night on the 5th January.

Compliments on belongings (new clothes) Eid el Fitr

Reyes Magos

1. Tienes una cazadora preciosa

‫ يي ھاي‬1

2. Es mi regalo de Reyes

¿‫ أھلين كيفك‬.2

1. ¡Ah!

‫ شو ھالحلو ھيدا؟‬1 ‫ مقدمين مقدمين‬thank you ‫ إنت الحلوه‬2

2. ¿A que es muy bonita? 1. Pues los Reyes han tenido mucho gusto

‫ حبيبتي‬thank you 1

2. Los Reyes saben todos los gustos/sí es muy

‫ كل سنه و إنت ﺑخير‬.2

bonita la verdad lo que pasa es que para este tiempo todavía: un poco fresca

‫ و إنت ﺑخير‬1 (Arabic.Belongings: A+P)

1. Quizá tengas un poco de frío/ no sé/ ¿te gusta? 2. Sí 1. ¿Te encuentras bien con ella? 2. Sí/ sí sí 1. Te queda muy bien muy bien fenomenal 2. Muy bonita sí (Spanish.Belongings: 1+3)

Table 3. Examples of compliment responses that took place during the feasts of Eid el Fitr in Lebanon and Los Reyes Magos in Spain.

In the Lebanese corpus, formulaic expressions and invocations against the ‘evil eye’ were common. In the Spanish corpus, both long and detailed explanations were frequently used and, to a lesser extent, requests for compliment repetition were made. Expressions against the ‘evil eye’ ‫ ليتھا ما ﺗبلى ھالساعة‬.1

‫ كتير حلو ھلموف عليك‬,‫شو ھالحلو ھيدا عن جد‬. 1

‫ مرسي مقدمة خديھا‬.2

‫ عيونك الحلوين‬.2

‫ ال شكراً وﷲ حلو ع صاحبھا مفيه حلوه ع صاحبھا ما شاء‬.1

‫ اليوم طالعة عن‬,‫ ﺑس عن جد‬,‫ عن جد‬, ‫ كلك ذوق وﷲ‬.1

‫ﷲ شوف فيھا التاريخ كمان يا عيني من وين جبتھا ؟‬

‫إسم ﷲ إسم ﷲ حلوه كتير‬,‫جد‬

(2.Arabic.Belongings: F+L)

‫ و إنت كمان إسم ﷲ عليك شو ھالحلو ھيدا‬.2 (2.Arabic.Belongings: A+P)

Table 4. Examples of expressions against the ‘evil eye’ collected in the corpus of Lebanese Colloquial Arabic.

In both corpora, the macro-function of “accepting” represented the largest percentage. The effect of the “gender” variable was found in both corpora, while the “age” variable specifically had an influence on the Lebanese corpus.

As shown in tables 5 and 6 below, male participants showed acceptance of the compliment received by using shorter sentences, whereas Spanish female participants used longer sentences and Lebanese female participants formulaic responses. Male participants (20-35 years old)

Female participants (20-35 years old)

‫ شو ھالحلو ؟‬.1

.‫شو ھالحلو‬.1

‫ مرسي‬2


(Arabic. Belongings: B+C)

‫ ثياﺑك كتير حلوين اليوم إسم ﷲ‬.‫شو ھالحلو عن جد‬ ‫حبيبتي عيونك األحلى‬.2 (Arabic. Belongings: A+G)

Table 5. Examples of the influence of the “gender” variable in the Lebanese corpus. Male participants (20-35 years old)

1.¡Qué guapo estás! 2.¡Ay bueno muchas gracias! (Spanish. Physical Appearance: 15).

Female participants (20-35 years old)

1. Elvira te ha quedado el pelo fenomenal/ ¿qué te has hecho? 2. Es un secador que es iónico entonces no sé que hacen exactamente los iones que te los echas en el pelo y brilla más y no se te quema (Spanish. Physical Appearance: 1+3).

Table 6. Examples of the influence of the “gender” variable in the Lebanese corpus.

4. Second part of the study: courtesy expressions in Colloquial Arabic After the analysis of the Lebanese and Spanish corpora, the researcher commenced the second part of the study. The purpose of the research is to conduct a comparative analysis of formulaic expressions used in compliment responses in all Arabic dialects. The researcher will study the relationship between language and culture in Arab societies. Participants of the second part of the research are female Arab University students with an advance proficiency level of English and French (B2-C1 according to the CEFR5) and knowledge of Spanish (from A1 to C1 according to the CEFR). The 5

CEFR: Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

data is being collected at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. The independent variable is origin. Muted videos are the instrument to collect the data for this study. Three different videos for compliments about physical appearance, belongings and skills were recorded in Beirut and Bahrain. Students are requested to recreate the dialogue between the characters in Colloquial Arabic. The compliment response sequence is collected through this instrument because it enhances the students’ creative freedom. Country of origin Morocco Mauritania Algeria Tunisia Libia Egypt Sudan Lebanon Palestine Jordania Syria Iraq Saudi Arabia Yemen Oman UAE Qatar Bahrain Somalia Kuwait

Cities Rabat, Casablanca, Meknes, Taza Nouakchott Algiers, Constantine, Wahran Tunis Derna Cairo Khartoum Beirut Nasra, Betlehem, Gaza, Akka, Nablus Amman Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Latakia Baghdad Riyadh, Jeddah San’aa Salalah Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai Doha Riffa Mogadishu Kuwait city

Table 7. Participants’ country of origin for the second part of the study.

The purpose of the study is building a corpus of courtesy expressions in colloquial Arabic and conducting a comparative analysis of formulaic expressions used in compliments responses in all Arabic dialects. The corpus is currently being built and compliment responses are being analysed. Although the great semantic differences between some dialects, formulaic expressions and expressions against the ‘evil eye’ are used in all dialects as displayed in the tables below. This shows the relationship between language and culture and the importance of courtesy expressions in Colloquial Arabic.

‫‪UAE, Abu Dhabi‬‬ ‫أ ‪ :‬ماشاءﷲ وايد حلو فستانج‪ ,‬عيبني‪ ,‬من وين خذيته ؟‬ ‫ب ‪ :‬صدق ؟ عيونج الحلوة‪ ,‬واصل خذﺗه من مانجو‪.‬‬

‫‪Yemen, Sanaa‬‬ ‫أ ‪ :‬ﷲ حياﺗي ايش الجمال ھذا كله عقدﺗينا‬ ‫ب ‪ :‬عيونش الحلوة‬ ‫أ ‪ :‬قصيتي شعرش ؟ شكله ھكذا أحلى‬

‫‪Palestine, Gaza‬‬ ‫شنطتك كتير حلوة ولونھا كمان حلو‪.‬‬ ‫ب ‪ :‬ھاااي ‪ ...‬شكرا‪ .‬عيونك الحلوين‬

‫‪Bahrain, Riffa‬‬

‫عيونك الحلوين‬ ‫‪.‬‬

‫و ھل سلسلة و أﺗراجي إشحلوھم عليج‬ ‫ما شاء ﷲ‬ ‫عيونج الحلوة يا حبيبة قلبي‬

‫عيونك الحلوين ‪Table 8. Corpus examples of the use of‬‬ ‫‪Morocco, Casablanca‬‬ ‫ھاذ ‪ le plat‬غزال ﺗبارك ﷲ‬ ‫بصحة و الراحة‬ ‫‪.‬‬

‫‪Mauritania, Nouakchott‬‬ ‫ھدا ما عرفت شنه يقر أحلى من شي‬ ‫صحة وني بيك‬

‫‪Egypt, Cairo‬‬

‫‪Algeria, Wahran‬‬

‫صحتين‬ ‫بصحتكم إن شاء ﷲ يعجبكم‬ ‫األكل شكله يجنن‪ ,‬يال إﺗفضلوا‪ ,‬تسلم إيديكي يا حبيبتي‪.‬‬ ‫يال بسم ﷲ‪ ,‬بالھناء و الشفاء يا خالو‬

‫صحتين ‪Table 9. Corpus examples of the use of‬‬ ‫‪Palestine, Gaza‬‬

‫‪Saudi Arabia, Riyadh‬‬ ‫فستانك مرّة حلو ‪ ,‬والسسال والحلق كمان مرّة حلوين‪.‬‬ ‫مقدمين حبيبتي‬

‫‪Lebanon, Beirut‬‬ ‫أ ‪ :‬ايه و ھل سنسال و ھل حالء الحلوين!‬ ‫مرسي مقدمين حبيبتي !‬ ‫‪.‬‬

‫‪Palestine, Nasra‬‬

‫انتي محلوة وفستانك حلو‪.‬‬ ‫ب‪ :‬وﷲ ؟ عيونك الحلوين شكرا‪ .‬كلك زوق‪ ,‬و مقدم‪.‬‬ ‫الفستان‬

‫مقدم‬ ‫شو ھلشنطة الحلوة !‬ ‫ب ‪ :‬يسلموا حبيبتي مقدمة‬

‫مقدم‪Table 10. Corpus examples of the use of‬‬ ‫‪Sudan, Khartoum‬‬ ‫ما شاء ﷲ‪ ,‬خالص كبرﺗي ﺑقيتي عروس!‬ ‫كلكم زوق شكراً وال يھمكم دايما ً حطبخ ليكم!‬ ‫‪.‬‬ ‫‪Morocco, Taza‬‬ ‫غزالة‬ ‫تبارك ﷲ ضعفت اش ديرﺗي ‪regime‬‬ ‫‪Oman, Salalah‬‬ ‫و الحلق و القالدة ما شاء ﷲ ﺑعد حلوين‬

‫‪UAE, Abu Dhabi‬‬ ‫ب ‪ :‬ماشاءﷲ اليسا!شو ھالحالة!‬ ‫أ ‪ :‬ھيه صدق شو ھالحالة‪.‬‬ ‫ج قصيت شعري يا ﺑنات ! شوفوا شوفوا !‬ ‫ب ‪ :‬ما شاء ﷲ شو ھالحالة‪ ,‬لفي اشوف من ورا‬ ‫‪Bahrain, Riffa‬‬ ‫نعيما ً قصتي شعرج‬ ‫إي حلوا¿‬ ‫ما شاء ﷲ وايد حلوا‬ ‫‪Iraq, Baghdad‬‬ ‫ماريا‪ :‬ھلو ‪ ,‬ھاي شنو التسريحة الجديدة‬ ‫ريتا‪ : .‬ما شاءﷲ طالعة قمر‪.‬‬ ‫السا ‪ :‬تسلمون حبا يبي‪.‬‬

‫ما شاء ﷲ ‪Table 11. Corpus examples of the use of‬‬

‫ما شاء ﷲ‬

Conclusions and future studies In the first part of the research, results showed that a large number of compliment responses in Lebanese Arabic were formulaic as the corpus was formed, to some extent, by “pre established” compliment responses. Expressions against the ‘evil eye’ were frequently used and the “gender” and “age” variable had an influence on the Lebanese corpus. In the second part of the study, formulaic sentences and expressions against the ‘evil eye’ were found in all Arabic dialects. The importance of the study is that the researcher will build the first corpus comprising all the Arabic dialects. The corpus of courtesy expressions in Spoken Arabic will serve as a valuable material for future studies in the field of Arabic dialectology and sociolinguistics. Upon completion of the collection and analysis of the corpus, the researcher will conduct the third part of the research. The purpose of the study will be to analyze if courtesy expressions are included in textbooks for teaching Arabic as a foreign language and if they are currently taught in institutions and universities in Spain and in the Middle East. The results of the present research have some pedagogical implications. Courtesy expressions in spoken Arabic are essential and therefore, they should be taught, through real language samples, from beginners’ level. According to previous studies (Bardovi-Harling, 2001; Kasper y Rose, 2002; Rose y Connie, 2001; Dastjerdi and Farshid, 2011), explicit and deductive instruction are more effective in the development of the sociopragmatic competence. Using real language samples6 and practicing the compliment sequence through role plays helps the students to acquire the pragmatic knowledge. A learner of Lebanese Colloquial Arabic should be aware that ma ša allah is used when complimenting in order to prevent the ‘evil eye’, nai’man is used to compliment for a new haircut or for taking a bath or mabrūk is used to congratulate someone for such things as buying something new or for losing weight. The learner


The Lebanese Colloquial Arabic corpus can be used in the language classroom as a real language sample to develop the intercultural and pragmatic competence of learners.

should be familiar with the richness of formulaic expressions when answering to a compliment and the use of “pre-established” sentences and the superlative form. The final conclusion of the study underlines the need for research on the development of the intercultural and pragmatic competence of learners of Arabic as a Foreign Language. These studies will help in the creation of methods, didactic materials and textbooks to teach Colloquial Arabic to foreigners.

References Al-Humaidi, M. (2006). “Proficiency in English and perception of compliments: The Saudi context”. Retrieved from: Al Khateeb, S. (2009). The speech act of thanking as a compliment response as used by the Arab speakers of English-a comparative intercultural study. Master Dissertation in Applied Linguistics and Translation, Faculty of Graduate Studies, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine. Bardovi-Harling, K. (2001). “Evaluating the empirical evidence: Grounds for instruction in pragmatics?”, Pragmatics in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 13-32. Farghal, M. and Al-Khatib, M. (2001). “Jordanian college students’ responses to compliments: A pilot study”, Journal of Pragmatics 33, 1485-1502. Farghal, M. and Haggan, M. (2006). “Compliment Behaviour in Bilingual Kuwaiti College Students”, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9 (1), 94-118. Farha, H. (1991). Courtesy Expressions in Spoken Arabic. Beirut. Dastjerdi, H.V and Farshid, M. (2011). “The Role of Input Enhancement in Teaching Compliments”, Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2 (2), 460-466.

Enssaif, A. Z. (2005). Compliment behaviour: strategies and realizations in English and Arabic: a case study of female students of the English Department. Master Dissertation, English Department, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Haverkate, H. (1994). La cortesía verbal: Estudio Pragmalingüístico. Madrid: Gredos. Kasper, G. and Rose K. (2002). Pragmatic Development in a Second Language. Malden: Blackwell. Migdadi, F.H. (2003). Complimenting in Jordanian Arabic: a socio-pragmatic analysis. PhD Dissertation, English Department, Ball State University. Mughazy, M. (1999). “Pragmatics of the Evil Eye in Egyptian Arabic”. Retrieved from: [fecha de consulta: 15 de diciembre de 2009]. Nelson, G. L., El Bakary, W., and Al Batal, M. (1993). “Egyptian and American compliments: A cross-cultural study”, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 17, 293-313. Nelson, G. L., Al Batal, M. and Echols E. (1996). “Arabic and English compliment responses: Potential for pragmatic failure”, Applied Linguistics, 17, 411-432. Ramajo Cuesta, A. (2012). “Interlanguage pragmatic study on Lebanese learners of Spanish as a Foreign Language. The compliment sequence in peninsular Spanish and Lebanese Colloquial Arabic”, PhD Thesis, Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, ProQuest Dissertation and Thesis. Rose, K. and Kwai-Fong C. (2001). “Inductive and deductive approaches to teaching compliments and compliment responses”, Pragmatics in language teaching. New York: Cambridge University Press, 145-170. Wolfson, N. (1981). “Compliments in cross-cultural perspective” in Merrill Valdes, J. (ed.) (1987). Culture bound: bridging the cultural gap in language teaching, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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