The effect of age on cultural schema: The case of Shekaste-nafsi (modesty) in Persian

2013 IJRSLL – Volume 2 Issue 3


Shirinbakhsh, Salva*
University of Isfahan, Iran (

Eslami Rasekh, Abbass
University of Isfahan, Iran (


Drawing on the theory of a cultural schema, this work focuses on the effect of age as a social variable on the instantiation of Persian cultural schema referred to as Shekaste-nafsi (modesty) in compliment responses. The schema motivates speakers to evade the compliment by lowering themselves and raising the other. This study seeks to quantitatively and qualitatively examine the pattern of schema activation in Persian cultural setting. The thrust of the study is to see ‘how’ the schema is practiced in young and old Persian speakers. Data were collected from a corpus of 63 hours of audio-taped conversations analyzed through a conversation analytic (CA) methodology. The results of analysis revealed that age has a significant effect on the distribution and frequency of this schema in the sense that age effect makes the speech of the young fairly similar to the globalized culture of speech and less similar to that of their previous generation. The underlying causes were attributed to globalization and socio-economic status of Iran.

Keywords: culture; schema; compliment; age; Persian



*Corresponding Author