Making Compliments

Mind over matter

What The Duck – Making Compliments By Aaron Johnson –


  • Box 1: Your camera takes really nice pictures.
  • Box 3: Your mouth makes really nice compliments.


  • compliment (n.) /ˈkɒmplɪmənt/ something that you say or do to show you like or think highly of someone


  • Who’s taking the pictures? The photographer or the camera? Well, both for sure … but this comic strip is making fun of the fact that very often, people associate the quality of the pictures to the camera and not to the person who controls the camera (i.e. the photographer!)
  • What’s funny here is that what is said in box 1 seems not at all unusual, but when the duck applies it to speech instead of pictures, we realize that something is wrong and that the merit for complimenting doesn’t have anything to do with the mouth, but the mind/brain.

Language Feature

  • Making compliments is not always easy! You have to be careful that what you say will be understood by the listener as something positive. It sounds obvious, but as this comic strip shows, this is not always the case. The challenge becomes even bigger with speakers with different cultural backgrounds.
  • Strategies to make compliments?
    • Always think about how the listener will probably understand what you say.
    • Think about the cultural background of the listener and try to analyze what is considered as positive or negative; avoid the negative associations!
    • Try to express yourself as directly as possible; avoid confusing images or metaphors. This will remove a great deal of potential miscommunication.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.