Speech act of gratitude as a speech ritual in modern English

Theoretical aspects of gratitude act and dialogic discourse. Modern English speech features. Practical aspects of gratitude expressions use. Analysis of thank you expression and responses to it in the sentences, selected from the fiction literature.

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Diploma paper

“Speech Act of Gratitude as a Speech Ritual in Modern English”


  • Introduction
  • Part 1. Theoretical aspects of gratitude act and dialogic discourse
    • 1.1 Modern English speech features
    • 1.2 Specific features of gratitude act
  • Part 2. Practical aspects of gratitude expressions use
    • 2.1 Gratitude act in Modern English
    • 2.2 Examples of gratitude expressions in Modern English
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography


Today English is incredibly wide-spread and it is constantly expanding. The main reason for this, in my opinion, is because of the media. The first medium through which English is, and was, spread is through newspapers. Everybody needs to know what is going on, in not only their country, but abroad as well. Newspapers are the main publication which are indispensable, because no matter what scientific or technological developments are created, the world will still need this type of information delivered through this simple and cost-effective medium. This is why the fact that five thousand newspapers, more than half of the newspapers published in the world, are published in English, is so important to the constant growth of the English language.

Television and cinema are other forms of media which greatly helped English get to the position it has reached today. The technology of this industry was first developed in Europe and America during the 19th Century, and by 1900, Britain and France were leading the way in the art of filmmaking. The First World War stopped them in their tracks however, which gave America the chance to gain dominance within the field. Feature films were developed, and the actors became 'stars' across the world, thus solidifying America's control over the film industry, which it still maintains today. Their industry is the largest and richest, and therefore the films which are produced, are sent off all around the world where they are subtitled (or dubbed). Through watching these movies, people abroad are learning the English language, whilst being entertained.

The same can be said of the power which American television has over the world, and its obvious benefits. For example, two hundred and fifty million Chinese people (more than the population of the United States itself) are learning English on TV. Popular culture, in particular pop music, also affected and is still affecting the growth and spread of the English language. English language is widely used now in the business sphere, in the process of negotiations. That is why it is very important to know and properly use some set expressions such as introduction, summarization, gratitude etc. Gratitude, like other positive emotions, has inspired many theological and philosophical writings, but it has inspired very little vigorous, empirical research. In an effort to remedy this oversight, this paper brings together ideas from various disciplines to examine what has become known as the most-neglected emotion.

Many studies have been done to examine the ways in which compliments are used and responded to (Pomerantz 1978; Wolfson and Manes 1980; Holmes 1986). Little attention, however, has been paid to how thank you expressions are used and responded to. Coulmas (1981) contrasts thanks and apologies using some European languages and Japanese. Eisenstein and Bodman (1986) compare expressions of gratitude by native and non-native speakers of English to evaluate English-learners' abilities to express gratitude in the second language [14]. They concentrate on the comparisons, but fail to develop the various uses and functions of thanking expressions in American English. Furthermore, neither gives a detailed description of responses to thank you.

Regarding the above-mentioned facts, the topic of our investigation has been chosen to be “Speech Act of Gratitude as a Speech Ritual in Modern English”.

The topicality of our investigation is predetermined by the necessity to determine the importance of speech act of gratitude in modern English and specify specific features of gratitude act within the modern English speaking society conditions.

The object of our investigation is speech act of gratitude.

The subject of the investigation is importance gratitude ritual in modern English.

The objective of our investigation is to characterize the speech act of gratitude as a speech ritual in modern English.

To gain the objective of our investigation we have determined the following tasks of the investigation:

- to consider Modern English speech features:

- determine specific features of gratitude act;

- investigate the gratitude act in Modern English;

- select examples of gratitude expressions in Modern English.

The theoretical value of the paper is to sum up theoretical material on the topic of our investigation.

The practical value of our investigation is the possibility of using its results in the process of teaching students the English language communication.

The structure of the investigation. The paper consists of the introduction, two parts, i.e. theoretical and practical one, conclusion, and bibliography.

gratitude dialogic speech discourse

Part 1. Theoretical aspects of gratitude act and dialogic discourse

1.1 Modern English speech features

The early part of the modern English period saw the establishment of the standard written language that we know today. The standardization of the language was due in the first place to the need of the central government for regular procedures by which to conduct its business, to keep its records, and to communicate with the citizens of the land. Standard languages are usually the byproducts of bureaucracy . . . rather than spontaneous developments of the folk or the artifice of writers and scholars. John H. Fisher (1977, 1979) argues that standard English was first the language of the Court of Chancery, founded in the 15th century to give prompt justice to English citizens and to consolidate the King's influence in the nation. It was then taken up by early printers, who adapted it for other purposes and spread it wherever their books were read, until finally it fell into the hands of school teachers, dictionary makers, and grammarians [15, p. 329].

Inflectional and syntactical developments in this early Modern English are important, if somewhat less spectacular than the phonological ones. They continue the trend established during Middle English times that changed our grammar from a synthetic to an analytic system.

The printing press, the reading habit, and all forms of communication are favorable to the spread of ideas and stimulating to the growth of the vocabulary, while these same agencies, together with social consciousness . . ., work actively toward the promotion and maintenance of a standard, especially in grammar and usage.

From its very early days, the Royal Society concerned itself with matters of language, setting up a committee in 1664 whose principal aim was to encourage the members of the Royal Society to use appropriate and correct language. This committee, however, was not to meet more than a couple of times. Subsequently, writers such as John Dryden, Daniel Defoe, and Joseph Addison, as well as Thomas Sheridan's godfather, Jonathan Swift, were each in turn to call for an English Academy to concern itself with language and in particular to constrain what they perceived as the irregularities of usage.

As for the view of English beyond Britain, the tentative optimism of the 18th century gave way to a new view of 'global English, an outlook in which confidence turned into triumphalism. A turning point in this emergent idea occurred in January 1851 when the great philologist Jacob Grimm declared to the Royal Academy in Berlin that English 'may be called justly a language of the world: and seems, like the English nation, to be destined to reign in future with still more extensive sway over all parts of the globe. Dozens of comments expressed this wisdom: 'The English tongue has become a rank polyglot, and is spreading over the earth like some hardy plant whose seed is sown by the wind, as Ralcy Husted Bell wrote in 1909. Such views led to a new perspective on multilingualism: those who did not know English should set promptly about learning it [11, p. 189-190].

English is spoken today on all five continents as a result of colonial expansion in the last four centuries or so. The colonial era is now definitely over but its consequences are only too clearly to be seen in the presence of English as an official and often native language in many of the former colonies along with more or less strongly diverging varieties which arose in particular socio-political conditions, so-called pidgins which in some cases later developed into creoles. Another legacy of colonialism is where English fulfills the function of a lingua franca. Many countries, like Nigeria, use English as a lingua franca (a general means of communication) since there are many different and mutually unintelligible languages and a need for a supra-regional means of communication.

English has also come to play a central role as an international language. There are a number of reasons for this, of which the economic status of the United States is certainly one of the most important nowadays. Internal reasons for the success of English in the international arena can also be given: a little bit of English goes a long way as the grammar is largely analytic in type so that it is suitable for those groups who do not wish to expend great effort on learning a foreign language.

Present-day geographical distribution English is spoken on all five continents. With regard to numbers of speakers it is only exceeded by Chinese (in its various forms) and Spanish. But in terms of geographical spread it stands at the top of the league. The distribution is a direct consequence of English colonial policy, starting in Ireland in the late 12th century and continuing well into the 19th century, reaching its peak at the end of the reign of Queen Victoria and embodied in the saying `the sun never sets on the British Empire'.

The two main groups are Britain and America. For each there are standard forms of English which are used as yardsticks for comparing other varieties of the respective areas.

In Britain the standard is called Received Pronunciation. The term stems from Daniel Jones at the beginning of the present century and refers to the pronunciation of English which is accepted - that is, received - in English society. BBC English, Oxford English, Queen's English (formerly King's English) are alternative terms which are not favoured by linguists as they are imprecise or simply incorrect.

In America there is a standard which is referred to by any of a number of titles, General American and Network American English being the two most common. There is a geographical area where this English is spoken and it is defined negatively as the rest of the United States outside of New England (the north east) and the South. General American is spoken by the majority of Americans, including many in the North-East and South and thus contrasts strongly with Received Pronunciation which is a prestige sociolect spoken by only a few percent of all the British. The southern United States occupy a unique position as the English characteristic of this area is found typically among the African American sections of the community. These are the descendents of the slaves originally imported into the Caribbean area, chiefly by the English from the 16th century onwards. Their English is quite different from that of the rest of the United States and has far more in common with that of the various Anglophone Caribbean islands.

Those varieties of English which are spoken outside of Britain and America are variously referred to as overseas or extraterritorial varieties. A recent practice is to use the term Englishes (a plural created by linguists) which covers a multitude of forms. The label English World-Wide (the name of an academic journal dedicated to this area) is used to refer to English in its global context and to research on it, most of which has been concerned with implicitly comparing it to mainland varieties of Britain and America and then with trying to determine its own linguistic profile. Extraterritorial varieties are not just different from mainland varieties because of their geographical distance from the original homeland but also because in many cases a type of suspension has occurred vis а vis changes in point of origin, i.e. in many respects the overseas varieties appear remarkably unchanged to those from the European mainland. This phenomenon is known as colonial lag. It is a term which should not be overworked but a temperate use of the term is appropriate and it can be cited as one of the features accounting for the relative standardization of overseas varieties, such as Australian or New Zealand English with regards to British forms of English [25].

The varieties of English both in Europe and overseas tend to show variation in certain key features, for instance special verbal structures to express aspectual distinctions are common to nearly all varieties in the developing world. Pronunciation and morphology features can equally be classified according to frequency of variation in non-standard forms of the language. To facilitate orientation in this sphere a table of those features is offered below which typically vary among both mainland and extraterritorial forms of English. Note that the variation in the area of lexis (vocabulary) tends to be restricted to two types. The first is the presence of archaic words no longer found in mainland Britain, e.g. the use of bold in the sense of misbehaved or wench as a non-derogative term for woman. The second type contains flora and fauna words. Obviously those speakers of English who moved to new environments were liable to borrow words from indigenous languages for phenomena in nature which they did not know from Europe, thus Australian English has koala, kangaroo, New Zealand English kiwi, etc.

In the development of the language English has shown variation with a number of features on different linguistic levels. In those cases where the variation has been between dialects and/or sociolects and the arising standard the features in question have become indicators of non-standardness. Consciousness of this is frequently present with speakers and it forms part of what is sometimes called `panlectal' knowledge of language, i.e. part of the awareness of inherent variation in a language which people acquire with their particular variety of the language in question. In English the indicators of non-standardness are chiefly phonological but there are also morphological and syntactical features, the most salient of which are indicated below. The standard referred to here is Received Pronunciation and the variation applies chiefly to forms of British English.

The main characteristics of modern English are the following

1. “compounds formed from Greek & Latin elements”:

The same method may be employed in forming words elements derived from Greek and Latin. Eugenics is formed with 2 Greek roots, eu-meaning well, and yes-meaning to born. The world therefore means well born and is applied to the efforts to bring about well-born offspring by the selection of healthy parents.

2. “sources of new words-borrowing”:

English disposition to borrow words from other languages in the past, many new words have been taken over ready-made from the people. From French comes chauffeur. 3. “prefixes and suffixes”:

The addition in the start of word is called prefixes. Sub=substandard, extra=extraordinary. The addition in the end of word is called suffixes. Help=helpless, kind=kindness, love=loveable.

4. “coinages”:

A considerable number of new words must be attributed to deliberate invention or coinage. They are mostly the product of ingenuity and imitation, the two being blended in variable proportions. Thus the trademark “Kodak” which seems to be pure invention was popularly used for years to refer to cameras of any brand.

5. “common words from proper names”:

Another source from which many English words have been derived in the past is the names of persons and places. Everyone is aware that morocco is derived from the corresponding proper name.

6. “grammatical tendencies”:

The substitution of “you were” for “you was” in singular occurs about 1820, and it is I is now often considered a social test where propriety is expected. Subjunctive mood in occasional use has disappeared except in conditions contrary to fact (if I were you).

7. “verb-adverb combinations”:

An important characteristic of the modern vocabulary is the large number like: set-out, gather up, put off, bring in, and made up of a common verb combined with an adverb [19].

1.2 Specific features of gratitude act

Expressing gratitude is essential because we often take for granted all that life offers us, without being grateful.

In this fast forward modern life when people don't have time for themselves - even their slightest of concern means a lot. If somebody is helpful and kind to us in thought or action, we need to express gratitude or return our thankful feelings.

Gratitude is a reciprocation of kind feelings; it is an attitude of gratefulness.

An expression of gratitude acknowledges the importance of people, things, events and the difference they make to us. We express our gratitude to convey our warm and friendly feelings. Expressing gratitude is more than an inner benevolent feeling, which brings a calming effect to all of us. It's the exchange of good and positive thoughts that develop relations.

When good things happen in our lives or when we are with the one's we love, and when we are grateful and express our gratitude, the feeling of love and tenderness grows.

Being grateful is more than saying “thank you” and being polite. When we express gratitude, it's the beginning of being generous, courteous, and showing our concern and appreciation for another.

When we deeply feel and express gratitude, it's an effective way to positively influence the behavior and attitude - our own and that of others.

Spiritually, we need to be thankful and express gratitude for everything, irrespective of whether it seems good or bad.

We should take nothing for granted or be judgmental about them. The hidden and deeper truth is that everything counts.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

Benefits of expressing gratitude are given below.

Expression of gratitude strengthens bonds, whether they are between family members, children, spouses, or friends.

When we express our gratitude, our family members or friends know that we appreciate things they do, and the efforts they make. It makes us feel that we are truly blessed in so many ways.

Some benefits of gratitude are the following:

- It creates a positive feeling and fosters happiness.

- It strengthens relationships.

- It brings us peace of mind and makes us feel good.

- It gives us more energy to do things.

- It reduces or eliminates stress in some cases.

- It improves sleep quality.

- It benefits both the giver and receiver because it increases satisfaction.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” (Melody Beattie) [20, p. 43-45]

Some Ways to Express Gratitude

There are so many ways each one of us can express our gratitude for another. Some people do so by sending cards, letters, gifts and flowers, while others do so through their words and actions.

In a deeper spiritual meaning, we need to be thankful and express gratitude even towards things and events that we cannot reciprocate in terms of feelings. The best way is to have a state of mind that is forever thankful.

Some simple and more practical ways of expressing gratitude are

1- Appreciate what you have

If we want more in our life - we need to first appreciate what we have.

Simply waking up to a bright new day each morning, being grateful for the wonderful food we eat, clothes we wear, drive luxurious cars, or living in lavish bungalows are things to be grateful for.

Or even spending time with our loved ones, our family members, smelling the roses, appreciating nature are a few things we need to be grateful for - isn't it?

However, often times we begin taking all these things for granted. What does this result in? We stop appreciating one another, stop smelling the roses, or just get lost in our own chores and forget one another.

We often tend to forget all that has been given to us and value what we have, and instead focus on what we don't have.

Remember, small things matter and we should not lose sight of all the wonderful gifts we are blessed with.

2- Make gratitude a way of life

Most of the time people consider gratitude as a brief interruption in their thought process. They begin expressing gratitude by being grateful for specific things like for their health, relationships, income, success, food and shelter. Instead, to be grateful, we must carry it permanently with us by making it a way of life. Be grateful for everything life puts forth - just like the gift of life, gift of nature, gift of mind, and so many other things.

When we do this, everything that comes our way will be viewed as a joyous experience. We will learn to make the best of a situation, even if it's been a bad or negative one.

Once you begin doing the above, you will no longer feel grateful, instead you will be grateful.

“Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

You need to remember to keep things simple and start small. Take 5 things today, then 5 the next day, and carry on till you are into a habit to see things that make you feel grateful daily.

Most people realize the value and importance of being grateful for the positive and meaningful things in their lives. Much has been written about the benefits of an attitude of gratitude.

It doesn't take much prove that value - your experiences likely are proof enough. When you take the time to “stop and smell the roses” or take a more disciplined approach to thinking about all of the things you have to be thankful for, you know how it makes you feel.

This attitude of gratitude typically/hopefully makes you feel better, reduces your stress and makes you more productive.

When you consider these facts as a leader, you will quickly realize two things: 1. The attitude you create for yourself through this process makes you a better leader and professional because the thoughts and feelings spread beyond your personal life.

2. As a leader you can help others create those results through your example.

The rest of this article helps you identify specific ways you can show your gratitude for your team and organization. Showing gratitude is a powerful thing; however, you can't show it or spread it if you aren't grateful. When you share your gratitude with others you can have an extremely powerful impact on them.

Find Things to be Grateful For

Perhaps it goes without saying, but before you can show your gratitude, you must know what you are grateful for. Spend some time thinking about the specific things in your professional world you are grateful for. Ask yourself questions like:

* What are people doing that you appreciate?

* What skills do people use that are important but overlooked?

* What results are making a difference?

* What do you see people doing that makes a difference for others and/or organizational results?

These are just a few questions to get you started. Spend some quiet time thinking about questions like these and writing down your answers. In the personal development world, many talk about the value of a gratitude journal. This is the leadership version of that idea. Catalog and identify what you are grateful for in the workplace.”

Doing this exercise will do another important thing for you - it will get you to be looking for and therefore finding more things on a regular basis. In other words, the value of actually looking is that you will find things to be grateful for. When you make that a habit, you will keep finding things regularly.

Showing Gratitude

Once you have identified things to be grateful for, it is time to share that gratitude with others. Here are three ways to do that.

Say thank you.

We were all taught to say thank you as children. This is one of those obvious and too often overlooked truths. People appreciate it when you simply say thank you. It is more than a pleasantry; it is an important acknowledgement that also builds confidence and gratitude in others. When you are seeing more things to be grateful for, it is easier to say thank you. Say it often. If saying thank you doesn't come easily to you (or isn't easy for you to remember), make it a game - set a daily goal for how many times you will sincerely say thank you each day [18, p. 81-82].

Write thank you notes.

Your mother probably taught you this too - when someone gives you a gift, you write them a thank you note. This can and should go far beyond gifts. Unfortunately, the handwritten thank you note is dying a slow and painful death. Yet, when I ask people about the handwritten note, most everyone tells me they have saved one or remember one that they received. Many people have files of them - whether there are 3 or 300. A written thank you note is even more important coming from you as a leader. Email is fine, but it isn't the same as a handwritten note.

Give gratitude feedback.

As a leader you are expected to give people performance feedback. I suggest that you regularly give gratitude feedback. This goes beyond the simple (but important) thank you. This is when you give people very specific feedback about how much you appreciate what they did - and share the impact it had on you, others and/or organizational results. This has nothing specifically to do with performance improvement (although that will happen indirectly). Rather, the focus of this feedback is on why their actions mattered and why you appreciate it. Tell people why you are grateful - either verbally or on paper.

These three simple steps can have a massive impact on morale, retention and productivity. And, as previously written, when you focus on things in your life to be grateful for (including work), you accrue benefits too.

However, beyond these quantifiable reasons don't lose this important fact: being grateful and sharing your gratitude is just the right thing to do - personally and professionally.

Gratitude is a noun. It describes the state of feeling appreciative for a kindness which has been granted or given, and (very often) of wanting to give something in return. There's no verb form of gratitude. The act of showing it (adjective = to be grateful)--or, in other words, the verb meaning ''to show gratitude''--is to thank. The first person present tense of the verb thank (''I thank'') + subject (''you'') has become shortened in day-to-day use to ''Thank you'' or, even more colloquially, just ''Thanks''.

As a result, thanks has also become a noun meaning a way of showing gratitude. This describes both the simple act of saying ''thank you'' and more demonstrative ways of showing gratitude, such as some form of reciprocal action or gift.

Put it this way: If this answer helps, please show your gratitude (noun) and express your thanks (noun) by upvoting it. I'll be grateful (adjective) if you do and would like to thank (verb) you in advance for doing so.

Let's consider key words of expressing gratitude in English.

Thank is a transitive verb-- in other words, it is a verb that takes an object. It means to express a feeling of gratitude.

I thank him. He thanks her.

Thanks is the noun form-- it means gratitude. It's used like this:

I give thanks. He gives thanks. We give thanks.

You can also say "Thanks" when someone does something nice for you. You can also say "Thank you."

Thankful is the adjective: "to feel pleased and feel a sense of relief"

I feel thankful that my cousin healed from her illness.

She is thankful that her shoes didn't get stolen.

Gratitude is a noun that means "the quality of being thankful." It's used like this: I feel a lot of gratitude for his kindness.

His words and actions demonstrated his gratitude for the kindness of strangers.

Practicing gratitude is a good way to be happy.

Grateful is the adjectival form of gratitude.

I feel grateful for her kindness [7, p. 303-304].

Though his rule is very systematic, he does not include the response formula. Thank you expressions should be considered along with the responses to them, since they are "chained actions" or units of discourse, coordinated with each other. The response formula is well defined by Brown and Levinson (1987). In formularizing politeness, they classify two types of politeness: positive politeness, which is used to satisfy the speakers' needs for approval and belonging, and negative politeness, which functions to minimize the imposition of a face-threatening act.

According to Brown and Levinson, expressing thanks and its responses belong to the category of offending speaker's negative faces. They consider the responses to thanks as minimizing the debt. As Lakoff points out, this politeness strategy of thanking, like other polite formulas, is also "reaffirming and strengthening relationships." In what follows, I will analyze these interactions in two parts: thank you expressions and the responses to them [10].

The person offering the gratitude has to have a valid reason for thanking in the preceding context. Thank you expressions may often be required by social convention.' The way gratitude is verbally expressed varies, ranging from simple, "thank you", or "thanks", to the more extensive, "I appreciate X", "I am thankful for X", "I am grateful for X", "Please accept my thanks for X", etc. The choice of a gratitude expression is largely dependent on how the thanker evaluates what the benefactor did for him/her and how the expressions function. While the major and general effect of thanking is, like the speech act of complimenting, to enhance rapport or solidarity between interlocutors by making the other party feel good, there are some more specific functions which thanking serves. In this section, I will classify them in order to examine how thanking is used.

1. Function of appreciating benefit: Appreciating benefit is the basic function of thank you expressions. There are several divisions in this category. The most fundamental division is whether the benefit is physical or mental. Physical benefits include gifts and help or service. Consider the following examples:

(1) Context: Kevin gave a doll to his girlfriend to celebrate her birthday. Girlfriend: Oh, thank you very much, Kevin. It's so cute. Kevin: You like it?

Girlfriend: (Smiling) Yeah, I love it.

(2) Context: Helping a roommate who has a problem with his T.V. Steve: Something is wrong with my T.V. Could you help me?

Tom: Let's see. (After spending a long time, he fixes it) Steve: Thank you very much, Tom. You're an expert.

In both examples above, the benefactor's action benefitted the beneficiary, and the beneficiary strongly believes that the benefactor's action benefitted him/her. This is demonstrated from the use of adverbs such as "very", "so", "a lot". These adverbs show a high intensity of gratitude, making the gratitude more emphatic and effective. The strong sense of gratitude may also be shown in the use of names (Kevin, Tom) following the thank you expressions, which increases the degree of familiarity expressed between the interlocutors. More importantly, these thank you expressions are followed by a brief comment: e.g. "It's so cute".

"You're an expert." Additional comments of this kind serve to add sincerity to the thank you expressions. In this sense, thank you expressions in the case of (1) and (2) may manifest sincerity, although they are usually considered as conventional, ritual, or mechanical. The benefit can be "potential" or "actual" in Coulmas' terms (1981). Potential benefits include a promise, offer, or invitation not yet done, while actual benefits include a favor or invitation done. This division depends on whether the benefit is already done or will be. Examples (1) and (2) above are cases of actual benefit. Consider an example of potential benefit:

(3) Context: A man promises that he will give a ride to his friend. John: Excuse me, Chuck. Could you give me a ride to Marsh? Chuck: What time?

John: Around 4 o'clock. Chuck: O.K., come to my room at 4:00.

John: Thanks a lot.

Chuck: You're welcome.

In (3), the action of giving a ride is not done yet. Furthermore, the participants do not know whether or not the promise may fail to be achieved for some reason. Yet the promise itself is appreciated. This is probably because the asker focuses on the process of the speech act rather than its result, and because he expects the action to be done. As Searle (1969) mentions, the promise itself may be at least "intended" to benefit him/her. Thank you expressions can differ according to whether some beneficiary. Most of my data concern actions requested by the beneficiary.

The benefit can be direct or indirect. In most of my data, the action directly benefits the thanker. Let's consider an example of indirect benefit:

(4) Context: It an Tom: It's John: Oh, is raining. John is about to go out without umbrella. His roommate, Tom, says raining, John. thanks. What Tom said is informative: I inform you that it's raining. In order that the "thanks" expression is to be elicited from John, it is prerequisite that Tom know that John is planning going out.

Otherwise, John may respond, "Oh, really! I didn't know that." Thus in (4), the thank able is the information from the preceding communicative act itself. As Searle points out (1969:70), both because there are several different dimensions of illocutionary force, and because the same utterance act may be performed with a variety of different intentions, it is important to realize that one and the same utterance may constitute the performance of several different illocutionary acts.

2. Function of conversational opening. changing. stopping. closing: In a conversational opening, there can be potentially high tension between the interlocutors. Thank you expressions used in this situation may reduce the tension somewhat. The use of thanks in the conversational opening is shown in the situation where high degree of formality is required : formal addresses, special lectures, conferences, T.V. talk shows, etc.

Thank you expressions in conversational opening also serve as an attention-getting device, as in the following:

(5) Context: In a literature conference a female presenter begins: "Thank you for coming. Today, I'll present ..." At the beginning of the "Johnny Carson Show", his repetition of "thank you" also functions to draw attention from the audience.

In using thank you expressions as conversational openings, the speaker informs the hearers that he/she is ready to start conversation. It may also be a mark of politeness in a formal situation, acting as part of a greeting. Thank you expressions serve an important role in situational change or topic transition. Consider:

(6) Context: In the news program, "Today" on NBC, one announcer moves to another. Bryan: Let's swing it on over to News Desk by Margaret. Margaret: Thanks, Bryan. In the news this morning, long and curious presidential campaign 1992...

In the above example, Margaret's thanks expression acts as a bridge between an old situation and a new situation (discussion situation to news-announcing situation) or between an old topic and a new topic. Sometimes the topic introduced in this way is not connected with the old one, but the device serves as a lubricant and as the speaker's pretence that conversation is an orderly, cooperative endeavor, and that she smoothly turns to the new topic.

On occasion, thank you expressions are used to stop an ongoing conversation. This is shown in a hurried situation.

(7) Context: Two classmates are talking to each other in the library. One of the two is going to go to class.

Jane: Oh my, I forgot to bring your material. I left it at home. I'll bring it tomorrow, or let me see...

Jim: Thanks, Jane. Please bring it tomorrow. I've gotta go to class. See you.

Jim uses this strategy to warn Jane that he is busy, or that he has only a moment to spare, or that he must leave shortly, or some other limitation. "At a convenient point, use this kind of information to bring the conversation to an end.".

In the above situation, if Jane intends to continue the conversation, Jim's next strategy would be to use an apology expression rather than the thanks expression: "Excuse me, I've gotta go to class..."

The thank you strategy may be less direct and less explicit than the apology strategy. The use of thank you expression in the above example may be an effort to minimize the "face threatening", in Brown and Levinson's term [15].

Thank you expressions in conversational closing are used in similar situations to those in conversational opening: e.g. "Thank you, America" at the end of a president's formal address, "Thank you for joining us." at the end of a news program or special lecture, "Thank you for being with us" in an interview situation, etc. This is an ending signal that the speaker is going to close the conversation. My data show that thank you expressions in conversational opening and closing are more frequently used in one-to-many relationships, whereas those in conversational stopping or change are more frequently used in one-to-one relationships. It is very important to note that the thank you expressions which function to open, stop, and close a conversation already involve the basic use of appreciating benefit. In other words, the two functions are interrelated, the former being based on the latter.

3. Function of leave-taking and positive answer: Thank you expressions sometimes serve to substitute for leave-taking expressions, although the two types often co-occur. In my data, this function is notably found in business situations such as in liquor stores and supermarkets where the interaction between a cashier and a customer is pervasive:

(8) Context: When a customer is about to leave in a liquor store: Customer: Good night!

Cashier: Thanks.

The thank you expression by the cashier is not only a token of gratitude for using his liquor store, but also a token of leavetaking. The cashier says "Good night" to many customers so often that he might want to vary his leave-taking pattern. Of course, there are variations in the customer's strategy: "Thanks. Have a nice evening!" (gratitude expression + leave-taking) or simply the same response, "Good night!" (only leave-taking).

In (8), the thank you expression has the functions of leave-taking in addition to gratitude. This use of the thank you expression is observable only in leave-taking situation: only when the customer is about to leave after the payment interaction done. Thank you expressions are also used to answer positively to an offer. Observe: (9) Context: John treated Jennifer to a cup of coffee in his apartment. He found her cup empty. John: Do you want some more coffee?

Jennifer: Thank you. Here the coffee had not been served yet. The thank you expression by Jennifer indeed sets up a complex connotation: "Yes, please give me some more coffee" (positive answer + politeness form + request).

It is worthwhile to note that the expressions functioning as leave- taking and answer also include the basic use of appreciating a benefit.

4. Function of emotional dissatisfaction or discomfort: Thank you expressions may be used to indirectly express dissatisfaction with the interlocutor's attitude.

(10) Context: In a group discussion in class, some students are talking about a writing process.

John: ... I think it's important to well develop the thesis statement. Actually, I am doing that in my writing. (jokingly) How excellent I am...

Lori: (Interrupting John) Thank you, John... In the above, Lori is not thankful for John's idea about the writing process but indirectly asks him to shut off his boasting.

It can also be used to be somewhat sarcastic. As Apte (1974) notes, the intonation of the phrase is very important in such settings, especially since it conveys a completely different message from the literal one.

In (10), there is stress on "thank", and it has usually got an elongated vowel. In addition, the production of "John" tends to be lengthened. It is very important to notice that this use of thank you expression is not tied to the basic function of appreciating a benefit. I assume that this function may be more observable in a familiar relationship than in an unfamiliar relationship, though my data is not sufficient to support this.

The responses to thank you expressions. In the speech act of thanking, it will be very effective if the benefactor accepts or acknowledges the gratitude. The thanker expects the benefactor to respond to his/her politeness. There can be various strategies of responding to thank you expressions. I classify them into the following types. Type 1. Acceptance : You're (very) welcome, Sure, O.K., My pleasure, Mhmm.

Type 2. Denial : No problem, Not at all, Don't mention it.

Type 3. Reciprocity: Thank you

Type 4. Comments: Detailed description

Type 5. Non-verbal gestures: a smile, a nod, etc.

Type 6. No response

Following this categorization, I will explain how the various types are chosen, and what determines the choice of response.

It is clear that "You're welcome" is the most frequent. This response is shown to be used regardless of the relationship of the interlocutors. This is in keeping with the rationale that the implicit ideal in American English may be to accept gratitude "graciously" as shown in the act of compliments. Consider an example, particularly with the intensifier, "very." :

(11) Context: On the way to a theatre, Jimmy found Tom dropped his wallet. Jimmy: Hey, Tom, you dropped your wallet.

Tom: Oh, thank you very much.

Jimmy: You're very welcome. The use of "very" in the response is followed by the use of the same intensifier in the gratitude expression.

The exchange of the intensifiers may greatly reduce "face threatening", since however conventional the thank you expression is, the exchange of the intensifiers implicitly predicts that both interlocutors want to express their sincerity and that their sincerity functions to enhance the harmonious atmosphere to some degree. The next most frequent response in this category is "Mhmm". This is a non-verbal sound which signals the acceptance of the gratitude. Let's consider an interesting example:

(12) Context: After a student checks out a book in the library.

Student: Thanks. Librarian: You're welcome.

(In three or four minutes, the student brings some other books and checks them out from the same librarian.)

Student: Thanks.

Librarian: Mhmm.

The example above shows changes of strategy in the speech act. The librarian seems to avoid the same strategy of response to the same thank you expression from the same student. A responder may use a different strategy to the same thanker in a repetitive service situation to give a variety.

The responses, "Sure" and "My pleasure", are the least frequent. Consider:

(13) Context: Louis, who was depressed, wanted to talk to his friend, Mike, who had nothing particular to do on the weekend. Louis treated him to some beer, and while drinking and talking, they had a good time.

Louis: Oh, I'm much better. Thank you for talking to me.

Mike: My pleasure. My pleasure.

It is a truth that Louis gets much benefit from Mike. But it is not deniable that benefactor, Mike, also gets some benefit from Louis, because he was well treated by Louis when he had nothing particular to do. The repetition of "My pleasure" implies that it is more than acceptance of gratitude; enough gratitude has been displayed, and thus the thanker is recognized as a polite person.

Type 2. Denial: The responder in this category may humble himself or herself by denying that he/she favored the beneficiary.

(14) Context: Borrowing situation. Girlfriend and boyfriend were cooking.

Girlfriend: We ran out of salt and sugar. I'm gonna go to the supermarket. Can I use your car?

Boyfriend: Sure.

Girlfriend: Thanks, Tim.

Boyfriend: No problem.

The inclusion of the negatives "no" or "not" may, in a sense, adds a more polite effect to the benefactor's help and strengthen the relationship between the interlocutors. Type 3. Reciprocity: By reciprocity it is meant that a gratitude expression, "thank you", is responded to by another "thank you". This results when both interlocutors share and exchange the benefit. More specifically, it takes place when both interlocutors believe that the past acts benefited them and thus they feel grateful for the past acts.

(15) a. Context: In Target, a department store.

Cashier: Here's your receipt. Thanks.

Customer: Thanks. b. Context: In the barber shop

Barber: Thank you.

Customer: Thanks.

The gratitude expression by the cashier implies "Thank you for using our shop", while that by the customer implies "Thank you for the service." Since both interlocutors reciprocally benefited, they express appreciation for each other rather than simply accepting gratitude from the other party. This may be viewed as a cooperative activity. Reciprocity type is also observable in one-to-one interview situations on T.V. [37]

For example, when an announcer said at the end of interview, "Thank you for being with us, Dr. Hunt.", the interviewee also responded, "Thank you" to imply that he/she appreciated the invitation. As mentioned earlier, it is a necessary condition for this response that the actions are believed to be good for both interlocutors.

Type 4. Comments: Comments are a detailed description or account of the event appreciated or previous expression of gratitude.

Comments can be either acceptance, as in (16) or denial, as in (17):

(16) Context: After a party between friends. Guest: It was a wonderful party. Thank you very much.

Hostess: I'm glad you could come.

(17) Context: A professor advised a student who had a hard problem to solve.

Student: (Gladly) Thank you very much for the advice. I really appreciate it. Professor: Well, that's why we're here.

In (16), the hostess implicitly accepts the gratitude by expressing gladness in detail, whereas in (17) what the professor said implies that one does not necessarily have to say "thank you" in this situation and that he is responsible for giving some advice. Comments of this kind reinforce the politeness.

Type 5. Non-verbal gestures: Non-verbal gestures and facial expressions such as a smile and a nod can be considered a device of a response to thank you expressions. In this type, conversational continuity is an important factor to consider. It is usually the case that if a thanker continues talking, the opposite party is hindered from responding to the thank you. This is seen in the form of thank you plus additional accounts, as in the following:

(18) a. Context: Tom and Jim share a room. Tom cleaned up their room alone when Jim was not there. Jim comes back.

Tom: I just cleaned up the room.

Jim: Oh, thank you. It's clean...(keep talking)

Tom: (While Jim is talking) Nodding. b. Context: John returns a book that he borrowed from

Steve. John: Thank you. It was interesting and helpful... (keep talking)

Steve: (While John is talking) Smiles.

The thankers continue talking, adding some more specific statements: "It's clean..." in (a) and "It was interesting and helpful..." in (b). These additional statements serve to give the thank you expression a more sincere effect. The responders do not interrupt the thankers in order to give a vocal response, and instead they give a smile or a nod, while listening. They may think that listening is more polite than interrupting to give a response.

This seems to make sense since thanking and its response are used to reinforce politeness and rapport between the interlocutors.

Type 6. No-response: This type is particularly noteworthy, considering that a thanker is usually expected to get a sign of accepting the gratitude. In this sense, it is worthwhile to observe the situations where no response is elicited. The no-response types largely dependent on what the responder's emotional state is. In my data, in a situation where someone is hurrying or worrying, no response was elicited:

(19) a. Context: After paying at a gas station.

Cashier: Thank you. Customer: No response (he has gone.)

b. Context: The police go to a suspect's house to ask some questions of his wife. (From Soap Opera) Police: What time did Mr. Thompson come back on the night of the murder?

Mrs. Thompson: I'm not sure, maybe, around 12 o'clock.

Police: (Opening the door to leave) Thank you.

Mrs. Thompson: (With a worried face)

No response.

In order for conversation to work, both participants should be interested in the topic and emotionally ready to talk. Likewise, in the gratitude pattern, if a responder is in a negative emotional state, he/she may not respond to a thank you expression. As in the above examples, emotional pressure may not allow the responders to participate in the conversation. Note that no response is also elicited between strangers. In the case of no-response situation where a stranger opens a door fora walking stranger behind, he/she may be in a hurry situation, or he/she may think that a favor of this kind is ritual.

However, this assumption might not be valid considering Herbert's point that acceptance, especially appreciation token should be most common among strangers. What seems more important in my corpus is that most persons who open doors whom I have observed are usually in a hurry to be on their own way. Particularly, one does not speak to 'busy' strangers (Wardhaugh, 1985). In other words, they are not ready to participate in the conversations.

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