Metaphoric Compliments in Iraqi Arabic

Hussain Alwan Hussain
2022 / 1 / 11

This paper studies the linguistic characteristics and the pragmatic motives underlying the choice of metaphor in the speech act of compliment by native speakers of Iraqi Arabic. Results show that metaphors are realized primarily as NPs and secondarily as VPs. They also show that the use of metaphorical compliments in evaluating someone s looks, deeds,-or-possessions are explicit, which helps to assert the complimentors sincerity and tendency to please despite the established local superstition that compliments belie evil eye. All the source domains of the metaphors studied are culture specific, with a cline towards using religious symbols. Complimenting the looks of adult females by adult males are strongly constrained lest they should realize an honour-threatening act. Finally, compliments are preferably coupled with adjacent invocating and well-wishing clauses.
Compliment giving and response are widely used in different societies. Since Pomerantz (1978), a large number of linguistic studies dealing with the two speech acts of compliment and compliment response have been published (e.g. Wolfson (1981)-;- Manes (1983) Herbert (1986, 1989, 1990, 1997)-;- Holmes (1986, 1988, 1990) -;- Billmyer (1990)-;- Chen (1993)-;- Kasper and Schmidt (1996)-;- Urano (1998), Cedar (2006). Many of such studies explore how the linguistic realizations of these two speech acts relate to culture-specific as well as universal pragmatics. The aim of the present paper is more specific in that it describes how metaphor is used by native speakers of Iraqi Arabic.
Literature Review
Within the domain of Arabic regional dialects, Nelson et al s (1993) contrastive study investigated Egyptian and American compliments and found out that that the compliments of both Egyptian and American subjects exhibited a preference towards -dir-ect rather than in-dir-ect means of complimenting through the use of adjectives. In contrast, Egyptian compliments tended to be less frequently used and syntactically longer than those used by American subjects.
In the same vein, Nelson et al. (1996) conducted another contrastive study between Syrian and American compliment responses. Their results indicate that both their Syrian and American subjects preferred compliment acceptance-or-mitigation rather than rejecting it. Similar response types were used by both groups, but the American group exhibited a higher use of the "Appreciation Tokens" type than their Syrian counterparts.
Compliment responses in Jordanian Arabic were investigated by Farghal and Al-Khateeb (2001) and their results show that speakers gender plays a crucial role in the formulation, acceptance, and rejection of a compliment.
Al-Gamal (2017) investigated types of complement responses used by male and female speakers of Yemeni Arabic variety, and found that both genders preferred to use the "Appreciation Token" and "Return" compliment response types.
1. Definition of Key Terms
Following Lakoff and Johnson (1980-;- 2003), Metaphoric is used in this paper as a cover term for similes, metaphors, personifications, and metonymy. Lakoff and Johnson (2003: 3) see metaphor as the human mode of understanding one thing in terms of another, and that is why it is extensively used in language. The coauthors argue that the human "conceptual system is largely metaphorical" (ibid. 6). They posit two conceptual domains in metaphorical mappings: the source domain from which the metaphor is drawn (e.g. "gold" in: your speech is gold)-;- and the target domain that one understands (e.g. "your speech" in the previous example" (ibid. 5).
A compliment is a speech act in which the complimentor attributes to the complimentee certain positive deeds, looks,-or-possessions that are valued by both the complimentor and the complimentee (cf. Holmes, 1995: 117).
Iraqi Arabic is that variety of colloquial Arabic spoken in Modern Iraq.

2. Data and Procedure
A. Data: All the examples cited in this paper were utterances either the researcher has (over)heard himself throughout the last forty years,-or-were cited to him by his acquaintances.
B. Procedures: Iraqi Arabic compliment utterances are taxonomised in accordance to their object of complimenting into the three categories of: looks, deeds and possessions. They are translated into English, transliterated, and their syntactic patterns indicated. Formulaic compliments complimenting same objects are lumped together, and situational clues are given at the end of each example. Then, the discussion and results are offered.
3. Examples
A. Looks
ݘ-;- !
/Iee, iee, ɂ-;-inti purtuqala mgaʃ-;-rah? Allah mgaʃ-;-riʧ-;-? ɂ-;-inti min inibbiwwa!/
Exc, Exc! You (Be) N ADJ ? Allah (Be) N You? You (Be) PP
Wow, wow! Are you a peeled orange ? Has Allah peeled you ? Youre from the Prophethood!
(Uttered by a young roaming orange-seller to a European blond-female tourist visiting Hatra.)
: ! !
/subḥ-;-aan alxaaliq: malaak! ɂ-;-llah yustur ʕ-;-alayha!/
N (Be) NP : NP ! Allah V PP
Grace be to the Creator: An Angel ! May Allah protect her!
(Uttered by a female-employee visiting a female colleague who shows her her newly-born baby-girl.)
. ! .
/haaծ-;-a ɂ-;-ibniʧ-;- ḥ-;-usna ḥ-;-usin yuusif. Laa ṭ-;-alʕ-;-iih barra, ɂ-;-axaf yinḥ-;-isid! mhaṣ-;-ṣ-;-an billah waɂ-;-aal il bait/
NP Your NP (Be) N. Neg VP You ADV, VP I VP N ! N PP and NP
This baby-son of yours has the beauty of Joseph. Do not take him out of the house, Im afraid he might be envied. Protected by Allah and the Members of the House of the Prophet.
(Said by a mother to her daughter.)
: ! ݘ-;- !
/bism illah ir-ahmaan ir-rahiim: waʤ-;-ha gumar, wiʕ-;-iyuuna gloobat! Allah yifarḥ-;-iʧ-;- biih/
PP Allah NP NP: NP (Be) NP, and NP (Be) NP. Allah VP You PP
In the name of Allah, the merciful, the mercy-giver: his face is a moon-;- and his eyes are lighting globes! May Allah impart happiness to you with him!
(Uttered by a female to her older sister on seeing her newly-born baby-boy for the first time.)
. ! ݘ-;-
/subḥ-;-aan man ṣ-;-awwar! bintiʧ-;- fiḍ-;-ḍ-;-a wʤ-;-amalha aaya/
N (Be) PP ! Your N (Be) NP and PP (Be) NP
Grace be to the Molder! Your daughter is silver and her beauty is an Aya.
(Uttered by a female mother on seeing the daughter of her female neighbor in the latters house.)
/ɂ-;-ilyoom ṭ-;-aalʕ-;-a ʤ-;-unbuծ-;-a/
Today, you look (as) a red rose.
/ɂ-;-ilyoom ṣ-;-aaiyra txabbiliin/
Today, you have become maddening.
/ɂ-;-ilyoom ɂ-;-inti mqaddiḥ-;-a/
Today, you are blossoming.
ADV You (Be) NP
/ɂ-;-ilyoom ṭ-;-aalʕ-;-a ʕ-;-aruus/
Today, you look (as) a bride.
(Examples: a, b, c, d, were uttered on separate occasions by different females to their female-colleagues when they meet first in the morning.)
ݘ-;- ! !
/fidwa lixduudiʧ-;-, gaeemar is-sadda! subḥ-;-aan ilqaa-dir-/
NP (Be) PP, N NP ! NP (Be) NP! N (Be) NP
(I am) the sacrifice for your cheeks, cream of Alsadda! Grace be to the Mighty.
(Uttered by a mother to the daughter of her neighbor.)
ݘ-;- ݘ-;- .
/ma ʃ-;-a ɂ-;-allah-;- ʕ-;-yuuniʧ-;- ʧ-;-anha dahhaʃ-;-a/
NP (Be) Allah-;- N Your (Be) ADJ NP
Grace be to Allah-;- your eyes are like a green amulet.
(Uttered by a female designer and tailor to a female customer.)
. .
/Ɂ-;-allah mitmaʕ-;-ni bʤ-;-amalah/
Allah (Be) NP PP. VP You VP Pro PP NP
Allah has mastered his beauty. Say: I take refuge with the God of dawn.
(Uttered by a female to her female neighbor who visits her with her son-boy for the first time.)
. ϐ .
/ṭ-;-eer min ṭ-;-iyuur iʤ-;-ʤ-;-anna. dug ʕ-;-al xiʃ-;-ab/
A bird from the birds of Paradise. Nock at the wood!
(Uttered by a male to his male-friend on seeing him with his child-boy in a public garden.
! .
/ya Ɂ-;-allah! bintiʧ-;- ʃ-;-amʕ-;-ah/
Voc. Allah! N Your (Be) NP
Oh, My God. Your daughter is a candle.
(Uttered by a male boss to his female-co-employee as she shows him a mobile video of her newly-born female-baby.)
ϐ .
/ṣ-;-udug Ɂ-;-iծ-;-a galou subḥ-;-aan ilmuṣ-;-ṣ-;-awwir/
NP Con VP Pro NP (Be)NP
Its the truth when they say grace be to the Molder.
(Uttered by a male to his female colleague when she shows him a picture of her teen daughter.)
B. Deeds
/Ɂ-;-inti ʤ-;-inniyyah/
You (Be) NP
You are a Geni.
(Uttered by a male to his female college-mate when she paraphrases to him the meaning of a verse line.)
/Ɂ-;-iʤ-;-aabtak looz/
N Your (Be) NP
Your answers (to the test questions) are almonds.
(Uttered by a male teacher to his male student.)
ݘ-;- .
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak ծ-;-ahab/
N Your (Be) NP
Your talk is gold.
ݘ-;- .
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak durr/
N Your (Be) NP.
Your talk is pearls.
ݘ-;- .
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak warid/
N Your (Be) N
Your talk is roses.
ݘ-;- .
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak ʕ-;-asal/
N Your (BE) N
Your talk is honey.
ݘ-;- .
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak ʤ-;-awaahir/
N Your (BE) N
Your talk is jewels.
(Uttered on different occasions by a male to his male friend when the latter pronounces some wise opinion, suggestion,-or-explanation.)
ݘ-;- .
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak yiʃ-;-raḥ-;- iṣ-;-ṣ-;-a-dir-/
N Your V NP
Your talk makes the chest happy.
(Uttered by a male to his male-friend on reading the formers text of an argumentative article.)/
ݘ-;- .
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak yiɵ-;-liʤ-;- iṣ-;-ṣ-;-a-dir-/
N Your V NP
Your talk makes the chest icy.
(Uttered by a male employee to his male boss when the latter tells him that he had recommended his promotion.)
ݘ-;- .
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak yifarriḥ-;- ilgalub/
N Your V NP
Your talk makes the heart glee.
(Uttered by a female member of a Provincial Council to a male colleague-member when the latter recommends a motion.)
/ḥ-;-aʧ-;-yak nabiʕ-;- ṣ-;-aafi, tislam/
N Your (BE) N ADJ -;- V You
Your talk is a pure fountain. Peace be on you.
(Uttered by a friend to his friend after the latter takes the stand at a seminar and persuasively rebuffs the previous speaker.)
/Ɂ-;-inta baṭ-;-al/
You (BE) NP
You are a hero.
(Uttered by a male boy to his male friend when he succeeds in swimming across as speeding river-torrent.)
/Ɂ-;-inta sabiʕ-;-/
You (Be) NP
You are a lion.
(Uttered by a father to his son when the former sees that his son has impeccably -restore-d the leg of a broken wood table.)
/Ɂ-;-inta ծ-;-iib Ɂ-;-amʕ-;-aṭ-;-/
You (Be) N ADJ
You are a furless wolf.
(Uttered by a student to his senior colleague who solves for him a mathematical problem.)
/ʕ-;-aqlak yoozin balad/
N Your V NP
Your brain weighs a country.
(Uttered by a male to his grandfather when the latter shows to him how to proceed in solving a problem he has with his father-in-law.)
/Ɂ-;-inta mawsuuʕ-;-a/
You (BE) NP
Youre an encyclopedia.
(Uttered by a male to his male friend when the latter relates to him the historical background of a certain civil war.)
/Ɂ-;-inta qamuusi/
You (Be) my N
You are my dictionary.
(Uttered by a female professor of English Novel to her male student who offers in time the meaning of a new word she is not familiar with mentioned in the text she is explaining to the class.)
/Ɂ-;-inta Ɂ-;-aḥ-;-san min ilḥ-;-asuub/
You (Be) ADJ PP
Youre better than a computer.
(Uttered by a bank customer to a bank employee when the latter instantly tells him the exact figure of the total annual interest he has to pay on his discounted promissory-note.)
/filfil biʃ-;-ʃ-;-iλ-;-ul/
(You are) pepper at work.
(Uttered by a mother to her daughter when she quickly finishes washing three carpets, hangs them out, and comes back asking her what else she has to do.)
/ʤ-;-aaki tagif/
A splendid jokey.
(Uttered by a passenger to a van-driver when the latter safely swerves a side to avoid a sudden collision with another speeding truck.)
/Ɂ-;-ismak ʕ-;-alam, yiwafiqak Ɂ-;-alla albaari/
N Your (BE) NP, V You Allah NP
Your name is a flag. May Allah the Protector grant you good luck.
(Uttered by a fan introduced for the first time to a renowned poet.)
/galbak galub simʧ-;-a/
N Your (Be) N NP
Yours is the heart of a fish.
(Uttered by a male to his male-friend when he sees the latter helping a third male-friend who had quarrelled with him the previous day.)
ݘ-;-. ݘ-;-
/galbiʧ-;- Ɂ-;-abiyaḍ-;--;- Ɂ-;-allah yixalliiʧ-;-/
Your N (Be) N-;- Allah V You
Yours is a white heart-;- Allah may preserve you.
(Uttered by a female friend to her female friend when the latter praises a third female friend who is used to picking quarrels with her.)
/ʃ-;-uλ-;-ul mal usṭ-;-a-;- ʕ-;-aaʃ-;-at iidak/
NP PP -;- V N Your N
A work of a master-;- long live your hand.
(Uttered by a male-commissioner to a wood-worker on seeing his finished new kitchen-table.)
/ʤ-;-ibitha ʕ-;-adil, wiծ-;-baḥ-;-itha ʕ-;-alqiblah/
V You ADJ and V you PP
Youve put it (the problem) straight and slaughtered it on the altar.
(Uttered by a male-friend to his Sheikh male-friend after the latter successfully solves a tribal feud on agreeably amicable terms.)
/Ɂ-;-inta sibawaihii/
You are a Sibawaihi.
You (Be) NP
(Uttered by a female college student to her male-colleague when the letter successfully shows her how to parse a thorny verse-line.)

C. Possessions
/ʕ-;-aaʃ-;- ծ-;-ooqak ʕ-;-ala haai il Ɂ-;-anaaqa/
V NP Your PP
Long live your taste for this elegance.
(Uttered by a male to his male-colleague after he enters their office and sits down at his table.
/beetkum qalʕ-;-a/
N Your (Be) NP
Your house is a fortress.
(Uttered by a male to his male-friend as they stand in front of the latters house.)
. .
/beetkum yiridd irruuḥ-;-. Ɂ-;-allahuma ṣ-;-alli ʕ-;-ala moḥ-;-ammed wa Ɂ-;-aali mohammed/
N Your V NP. Allah (Be) N PP and NP
Your house makes the soul come back. May Allah pray upon Muhammad and Muhammads Household.
(Uttered by a female to her female neighbor as the latter shows her around her new house.
/sayyartak tuḥ-;-fah/
N Your (Be) NP
Your car is an artifact.
(Uttered by a male to his male-friend as he sees the latters car.)
4. Discussion
Compliment (1) is singularly innovative, uttered by the teenager orange seller in a spell-like fashion. Immediately, the complimentee asked me being their group-interpreter what the boy was saying to her, and when I translated the literal meaning of the compliment to her, she smiled widely, and lightly kissed him on the cheek as a token of her appreciation. On that, the boy immediately presented her and me with the largest of his oranges, and refused to accept payment in return. The source domain (Lakoff and Johnsen, 2003: 252) of the first two of his metaphors, realized by NPs, is related to oranges: his valued means of living and cherishing. The orange-peeling process is used in the utterance as the quintessence of female-beauty (target domain, ibid.) crystallization perfected by Allah, the greatest of creators, in the making of his complimentees complexion. His third metaphor relates the target domain of the complimentees beauty to the source domain of religious sacredness in accordance to the Islamic creed, which stresses the serene physical perfection of all prophets, especially Joseph and Muhammad. Relating beauty to God is one deeply-entrenched belief in monotheism. In Islam, the NP: The Beautiful is one of the hundred Good Names = of Allah. The collective belief in the popular saying, = Indeed. Allah is beautiful, He loves beauty obtains in this examples, as well as in many other examples complimenting beauty.
The source domain of the metaphor in (2) is also religious, realized by the NP angel to indicate beauty. Allahs protection is invoked twice in this utterance in order to stress the speakers acting in good-faith with the hearer, and, consequently, the absence of any harmful eye of envy in the speech act. This is because all the speech acts of complimenting are generally believed by Iraqi people to be a potential source of harm-infliction upon the complimentees, which can only be wiped out by the utterance of some proper religious invocation, such as Grace be to the Creator and May Allah protect NP. Thus, such a dominant superstition sometimes requires the compliment utterance to have two adjacent illocutionary forces: complimenting plus invocating. If something bad e.g. an accident-or-some illness happens to the complimentee-or-his belongings immediately after the compliment, then that harm is almost always ascribed to the eye of envy.
Compliment (3) is similar to (2) in invocating the protection of both: Allah, and Prophet Muhammads Next of Kin ( ) who are greatly revered by all Muslims as a source of good intercession ɔ on behalf of the believers. The source domain of the metaphor is also a religious NP (The beauty of the Prophet: Joseph, likened to the sons beauty). In addition, it expressly spells out the inherent social concern about the harmful eye: = Do not take him out of the house, Im afraid he might be envied.
The source domain of the two metaphors found in (4) relates the target male-babys beauty to the two NPs of the moon and lighting bulb. It has also an adjacent religious invocation: = In the name of Allah, the merciful, the mercy-giver, as well as a well-wishing clause: ݘ-;- = May Allah impart happiness to you with him-;- i.e. a kind of collect. These two clauses reflect the impact of culture-specific beliefs upon the linguistic realization of compliments in Iraqi Arabic. These beliefs render the adjacent religious invocation of Gods protection the preferred and more proper mode of complimenting.
In (5), there are two source domains for the metaphorical expression of the target female-babys beauty: silver, and Aya. The latter N refers to a singular Quranic verse, religiously deemed to be the ultimate textual proof of sacred miraculous beauty. The N of Silver conveys the concept of serene white-skin, highly appreciated in Iraq as a token of beauty in females and males alike. Again, there is an adjacent protective invocation: = Grace be to the Molder-;- i.e. Allah against evil eye.
The four exponents of complimenting female-beauty in (6) have their source domains in flora - the NPs: ( = budding red rose, = blossoming) in (a) and (c)-;- in bringing about mental disorder - the VP: ( = cause to become mad) in (b) -;- and in producing the best image at the wedding ceremony - the NP: ( = bride) in (d). Though conventional, they are quite popular and widely used.
It is significant to mention here that both the complimentors and the complimentees of these utterances were females. In other words, they are sex-based (Herbert, 1990). These same expressions might be uttered by adult males to adult females, provided that the prevailing situational dimensions (e.g. age, marital status, kinship relations, mutual relations, participants, subject of the speech-event, etc.) totally rule out their being mistakenly taken by the complimentee as a mode of courtship () rather than complimenting. Otherwise, such utterances can be face-threatening - at least to the complimentee - since their explicitness involves going bald on record (Brown and Levinson, 1987). Consequently, such an explicitness renders the speech act of complimenting the looks of adult females to be highly sensitive to gender, age, marital status, mutual relations, participants, and community. In almost all cases, whenever the male complimentor is legible to marriage-or-female-seduction, then such a compliment would not only be face threatening to both him and the complimentee, but can be an honour-threatening act that can well cause the severing of their mutual talking-relations,-or-even consequential reprisal. In Iraq, a young adult male should never compliment the looks of a young female unless his good faith is socially taken for granted, since such an act presupposes honour-impairing courtship, even if the complimentee is married. The underlying common social belief at play in this connection is that a woman is = a taboo. For example, an unmarried male may not normally compliment the looks of a young wife of some other man, whether she were alone,-or-in front of her husband, even if they all belong to urban, civilized community. In the countryside, such a compliment could bring about an immediate backlash against the complimentor by the complimentee herself,-or-whoever present of her relatives. However, if this male complimentor is a married man, and his wife is present at the speech event, he may do so in an urban community, though he might get reprimanded by his wife when they return home for revealing his stigmatic habit of: = peeping at women if she were a jealous wife. Even if good faith does hold between all the participants in this speech event, it is not unusual for the husband of the complimentees wife to feel uneasy, and lament the complimentors improper speech when he is back alone with his wife. However, if the same compliment is uttered by an old male relative of the young wife-or-of her husband,-or-by the husband himself, then it is quite pleasing. In these cases, the poison turns into remedy. The same is true when the complimentor is a teenager relative. In case the complimentee is an old woman in her sixties-or-more, then every compliment goes provided that she belong to an urban, civilized community, but not in the country-side, where good faith is not taken for granted in this case.
In (7), the source domain of the NP metaphor is that of culture-specific type of food: ( = the cream of al-Sadda). This is a special brand of highly valued Iraqi delicacy consisting of white cream-lumps skimmed from the boiling milk of buffaloes that are fed on special grass fodder grown around the town of al-Sadda (65 kilometers south of Baghdad). The expensive, luscious, and dense cream lumps are richly white, with semi goose-pimple skins. In this instance, the target domain is the beauty of the daughters cheeks. The clause: ݘ-;- = (I am) the sacrifice for your cheeks is highly symbolical here in that it does not literally mean what it says-;- rather, it serves as an expression of endearing admiration. Again, the compliment is supplemented with an adjacent evil-eye-dismissal clause: = Grace be to the Mighty.
The compliment in (8) involves the use of another culture-specific innovative metaphor expressed by the NP: ( = green amulet that serves to throw off evil eye). This is a clay amulet, totally glazed in green colour. Its outer zigzag rim engulfs a circumference of seven hollow circular eyes evenly distributed around a solid green centre. An amulet of this type is usually hung on the outer wall of the guest room,-or-somewhere near it, as a protection against the potential evil eye of house-seers. In this particular case, such a type of green amulet is used as the source domain for describing the target beauty of the complimentees green eyes.
In (9), there is another innovative metaphor expressed by the NP: = mastering. The meaning of this derivative noun is an amalgam of deliberate hard work, care, and perfect finishing. The entailment here is that: Because Allah loves this particular boy of yours, He has perfected the making of his beauty. This is followed by a recitation of a Quranic verse line (Aya) popularly valued in dismissing evil eye.
Religious culture is also the source domain for the NP metaphor in compliment (10): = a bird from the birds of Paradise to designate the child-boys beauty. Typically, it is followed by the largely symbolic -dir-ective clause: = Nock at the wood as another popular cultural means of dismissing evil-eye.
The metaphor in (11) is similar to that of (4) and (8) in that its source domain for evaluating the babys beauty is a certain shining object-;- a candle () in this case, preceded by the invocation of Allah: . In contrast, the source domain of the NP metaphor in (12) is religious: Allah, the Molder ().

B. Deeds
Skillful performance is complimented upon with the NP: = female Geni by the speaker in (13), borrowed from both Arab Preislamic and Islamic folklore. According to the folk-tales, Genies are fairy-creatures imagined to be capable of performing fantastic deeds that the human beings are incapable of.
Like (1 and 7), the source domain of the complimenting metaphor in (14) is one cherished food-item: the NP almonds = Ҕ to indicate the complimentees answers to the test items were to the point.
All the five instances in (15) compliment admirable speech by likening it to NPs denoting either precious metals and stones (a, b, e), rose (c),-or-honey (d). All of these are stock metaphors, though extremely popular.
In (16) and (17), the admirable speech complimented upon is likened through a VP to the act of making the chest happy є (16),-or-icy є (17). The chest in both cases is considered in the folklore to be the seat of gleeful feelings. Another similar folkloric seat is the heart Ȕ , as in (18).
Similar compliment for good speech is realized in (19) by using the source domain of the NP: = a pure fountain to indicate purity and freshness.
In (20), the NP: = hero, champion is used to compliment the boys feat of swimming across the Lower Zap river, whose middle valley is a dangerously speedy torrent running over a bed of big, slimy rocks. The complimentee was only ten years old at that time.
Traditionally, one very popular strategy of complimenting the addresses ability and performance is to liken the complimentee to a lion: ڔ, as is the case in (21). In all such cases, the latter NP stands for: good work-or-very able, not only bravery and hard fight.
A less popular, though similar strategy, is the use of the NP: = furless wolf to compliment good work, as in (22). This NP stresses two attributes: ability and wisdom. The source domain here is borrowed from the biological phenomena that the wolf sheds off most of its fur when growing old, though its ability as a predator becomes more successful.
Complimenting wisdom is realized in (23) via metonymy: = a country, meaning the whole community of a country. When ones brains is likened to the collective cognitive force of a whole community, then the part turns into the whole. As in many other compliments cited, exaggeration is inherent in the illocutionary force to stress sincerity and the intent to please.
Metonymy is also used in (24), (25), and (26) through the NPs: = encyclopedia, = dictionary, and = computer to compliment wide-learning faculty. Again, exaggeration is inherent here.
The metaphor in (27) is quite interesting in that it likens swift performance to = pepper, known to attest its hot taste immediately upon touching the tongue. The researcher has noticed that this particular metaphor is more popular among females, than males-;- and tends to be more especially used to complimenting swift house-work rather than some other work. In other words, this metaphor has undergone the semantic process of specialization.
In (28), the NP metaphor of: = jokey is register-specific, used only among professional drivers to indicate skillful driving of cars. It is borrowed from English via transliteration. On the other hand, the Iraqi Arabic NP: ݔ denotes both excellent swift action and extraordinary care.
The metaphor in (29) is formulaic in that it likens the name of the complimentee to that of flag: to denote popularity and high social esteem. Again, it is followed by the well-wishing clause: = May Allah the Protector grant you good luck.
Cooperation in innocence and good faith is complimented in (30) and (31) by likening the complimentees heart to that of a fish: ݘ-;- and white: ֔. The use of the former NP is especially telling in indicating the complete absence of ill-will by the complimentee toward someone who has previously committed some offence against him. This is done with reference to the tendency of a fish to be re-hooked by the same hook that it has just narrowly escaped its danger, even after sustaining some injury from it. Though popular, it imparts an overtone of naivety and exaggeration. In (31), the metaphor of white is self-explanatory.
The NP metaphor: in (32) is indicative of excellent work performance, akin to that of a masterful practitioner of some handcraft who is in charge of a number of apprentices. The compliment is followed by the well-wishing clause: = long live your hand, which is itself another compliment via metaphor. So in this example, we have two successive compliments.
In (33), the metaphors is realized through a VP: = slaughtered it on the altar. The source domain is religious, denoting the observance of the correct ritual in animal-slaughter. The meaning is that of correctly and swiftly bringing a permanent end to some pending issue.
The source domain of (34) is the renowned medieval linguist: = Sibawaihi, whose grammar book ( : al-Kitab = The Book) is unanimously regarded to be the authority in Classical Arabic grammar.

C. Possessions
Similar to (32), the compliment in (35) couples well-wishing to the object of compliment, = Long live your taste for this elegance. The metaphor is realized through the VP: ߔ.
The NP metaphor in (36) is a stock one, likening the complimentees house to a castle ɔ. Less traditional is the compliment in (37) which compares the complimentors happiness in seeing the complimentees house to that of a dead soul coming back to life: = Your house makes the soul come back. Exaggeration, though pleasing, is obvious here.
Another stock metaphor is offered in (38), which makes use of the source domain = artifact to compliment the target domain of the complimentees car.

5. Results
1. All metaphorical compliments cited in this paper are explicit since they are recognizable outside of context ( Boyle, 2000: 18).
2. The source domains of all the examples in the data are culture-specific.
3. With respect to form, such compliments are primarily realized in Iraqi Arabic as NPs, and secondarily as VPs.
4. A few of the metaphors are innovative, the greater number is formulaic and ritualized. However, all are extremely valued.
5. Because of the dominance of the belief that all compliments are potentially belie a harmful eye of jealousy, compliments tend to preferably co-occur with adjacent evil-eye-dismissing and well-wishing clauses. When the latter clause also serves the -function- of compliment, it doubles its illocutionary force.
6. Complimenting the looks of adult females by adult males is extremely sensitive to gender, age, mutual relations, participants, and marital status. Meticulous over-care should be observed to guarantee that it does not turn into an honour-threatening act.
7. Exaggeration is prevalent in order to stress both sincerity and the intention to please the complimentee.
8. The most recurrent source domain of metaphors in the data is the Islamic religious one. Flora and fauna sources come next.

Al-Gamal, Ameen Ali Mohammed (2017) "The Speech Act of Compliment Response as Realized by Yemeni Arabic Speakers." Language in India Vol. 17:6 June 2017
Boyle, Ronald, (2000). Youve worked with Elizabeth Taylor!: phatic -function-s and implicit compliments. Applied Linguistics 21 (1), 26-46.
Brown, P., & Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some Universals in Language Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Campo, E. & Zuluaga, J. (2000). Complimenting: A matter of cultural constraints. Colombian Applied Linguistics Journal, 2(1), 27-41.
Billmyer, K. 1990. "I really like your lifestyle": ESL learners learning how to
compliment. Penn Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, 6 (2): 31-48.
Cedar, Payung 2006. Thai and American Responses to Compliments in English. The
Linguistics Journal, 1(2): 6-28.
Chen, R. 1993. Responding to compliments: A contrastive study of politeness
strategies between American English and Chinese speakers. Journal of
Pragmatics, 20: 49-75.
Golato, Andrea. 2005. Compliments and Compliment Responses: Grammatical structure and sequential organization. John Benjamins B.V
________. 2002. German Compliment Responses Journal of Pragmatics, 34(5):
547- 571.
________. 2003. Studying Compliment Responses: A Comparison of DCTs and
Recordings of Naturally Occurring Talk. Applied Linguistics, 24(1): 90-121.
Farghal, Mohammed & Al-Khatib, Mahmoud A. 2001. Jordanian College Students
Responses to Compliments: A Pilot Study. Journal of Pragmatics, 33: 1485 1502.
Geis, Michael L. 2006. Speech Acts and Conversational Interaction. Cambridge
University Press.
Herbert, Robert K.1986. Say thank you"-or-something. American Speech, 61(1):76-88.
---------------------. 1989. The ethnography of English compliments and compliment
responses: A contrastive sketch. In Oleksy (ed.). Contrastive pragmatics, (3-35).Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
-------------------. 1990. Sex-based differences in compliment behavior. Language in
Society, 19: 201-224.
-------------------. 1997. The Sociology of Compliment Work in Polish and English.
In: N. Coupland and A. Jaworski, eds., Sociolinguistics, 487-500. London:
Holmes, Janet. 1986. Compliments and Compliment Responses in New Zealand English. Anthropological Linguistics, 28(4): 485-508.
________. 1988. Paying compliments: a sex-preferential politeness strategy. Journal
of Pragmatics, 12: 445-465.
________. 1990. Apologies in New Zealand English. Language in Society, 19: 155-
Manes, J. 1983. Compliments: A mirror of cultural values. In N. Wolfson & E. Judd
(Eds.). Sociolinguistics and language acquisition (pp. 96-102). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Manes, J., & Wolfson, N. 1981 The compliment formula. In F. Coulmas (Ed.).
Conversational routine (pp. 115-132). The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton.
Nelson, G., Al-Batal, M., & Echols, E. (1996). Arabic and English compliment
responses: Potential for pragmatic failure. Applied Linguistics, 17(4), 411-432.
Nelson, G., El-Bakary, W., & Al Batal, M. (1993). Egyptian and American compliments: A cross-cultural study. International Journal of intercultural relations, 17(3), 293-313.
Pomerantz, A. 1978. Compliment Responses: Notes on the Cooperation of Multiple
Constraints. In J. Schenkein (Ed.), Studies in the Organization of Conversational Interaction (79-112). New York, NY: Academic Press.
Wolfson, N. 1983. An empirically based analysis of complimenting in American
English. In N. Wolfson & E. Judd (Eds.), Sociolinguistics and language acquisition (82-95). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

Add comment
Rate the article

Bad 12345678910 Very good
Result : 100% Participated in the vote : 2