Compliments and flattery in Spanish: question of terminology?

María Isabel Hernández Toribio – Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España
Luis Deltell Escolar – Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España

María Isabel Hernández Toribio y Luis Deltell Escolar, 2017: "Cumplidos y halagos en el español peninsular: ¿cuestión de términos?", Onomázein 37, 188-210.
DOI: 10.7764/onomazein.37.04

In this paper we will review some of the theoretical aspects of a specific type of evaluative act, the ‘compliment’ in Peninsular Spanish. We will bring into focus some terminological issues such as the difference between ‘cumplidos’ (‘compliment’) and ‘halagos’ (‘flattery’): even though both terms are currently in use, not only in Peninsular Spanish —field of our study— but also in the Hispanic world in general, they are used almost interchangeably. Furthermore, we will analyse the roles compliments play, either as spontaneous acts whose purpose is just showing solidarity and affection, or as those that go beyond spontaneous and disinterested evaluations of the other person, or even as those that could be considered a type of normative politeness required by certain situations. In addition, we will review compliments as acts of speech that are ‘marked’ (both positively and negatively) or ‘unmarked’ from the point of view of politeness.