THE USE OF “TAAROF”: THE GENERATION AND GENDER FACTORS IN IRANIAN POLITENESS SYSTEM
This thesis examines the use of taarof expressions as well as attitudes to taarof held by Iranians. Taarof is a politeness system of Iranian (or Farsi), which is known for its high complexity (Sharifian, 2011). The study focuses on the comparison of the use of and attitudes towards taarof across two genders (men and women) and across two age groups (20-29 and 40-59 year olds). There were 60 participants in the study: a group of 30 males and a group of 30 females. In each group 15 participants were 20-29 and 15 participants were 40-59 years old. All the participants were monolingual speakers of Iranian (Farsi) residing in Iran. The first part of the study examines the use of taarof by the participants based on their answers to a questionnaire. The second part of the study investigates the use of taarof expressions by the four participant groups in quasi-spontaneous conversations (dialogues) prompted with two different script scenarios describing in brief a situation of language use (purchase of a watch in a store and giving/receiving compliments). Taarof expressions used by the participants in the dialogues were manually extracted from transcripts, and their frequencies were compared across the four groups of participants with T-Tests using R package. The results demonstrate that the attitudes to taarof are mixed: both positive and negative attitudes are found among participants. Attitudes to taarof significantly differ across gender and generation groups, whereby women and younger participants hold more negative attitudes to taarof. The use of taarof expressions overall does not differ by gender, however, the specific use of three expressions is gender-specific. Older participants use significantly more taarof expression than younger ones overall. There was only one expression that was used more by the younger group of participants.
taarof, Iranian, taarof expressions, politeness system, generation, gender
Master of Arts (M.A.)
Linguistics and Religious Studies