Doing more than expected: thanking recognizes another's agency in providing assistance

Joerg Zinken, Giovanni Rossi, Vasu Reddy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In informal interaction, speakers rarely thank a person who has complied with a request. Examining data from British English, German, Italian, Polish, and Telugu, we ask when speakers do thank after compliance. The results show that thanking treats the other’s assistance as going beyond what could be taken for granted in the circumstances. Coupled with the rareness of thanking after requests, this suggests that cooperation is to a great extent governed by expectations of helpfulness, which can be long-standing, or built over the course of a particular interaction. The higher frequency of thanking in some languages (such as English or Italian) suggests that cultures differ in the importance they place on recognizing the other’s agency in doing as requested.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMobilizing Others: Grammar and Lexis within Larger Activities
EditorsCarmen Taleghani-Nikazm, Emma Betz, Peter Golato
Place of PublicationMannheim
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9789027261588
ISBN (Print)9789027204929
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2020

Publication series

NameStudies in Language and Social Interaction
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
ISSN (Print)1879-3983


  • agency
  • cooperation
  • courses of action
  • cultural diversity
  • expectation
  • gratitude
  • offers
  • recruitment
  • requests
  • thanking


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