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Politeness Theory

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Kim Benford

on 6 November 2013

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Transcript of Politeness Theory

Politeness Theory
By Kim Benford
November 5, 2013

Speaking of Being Polite!
Three (3) Primary Assumptions Connected to Politeness Theory
We manage our own (and others) identities through the use of politeness strategies.
Face-Threatening Acts (FTA)
FTA are common behaviors:
- Apologies
- Compliments
- Criticisms
- Requests
- Threats
Politeness Theory (PT)
PT explains HOW and WHY people try to PROMOTE, PROTECT, and "SAVE FACE" when unexpected embarrassing or shameful situations happen
Positive Face (need to be liked)
Negative Face (acts freely)
Face: the self-image that we present to others and the understanding that others have face needs of their own.
Through choices, we communicate in a way that allows us to get what we want and still maintain face.
2nd Assumption
All individuals are concerned about maintaining face.
1st Assumption
Politeness Theory along with these 3 assumptions explain & predict HOW, WHEN, and WHERE Face Threatening Acts may occur and how to RESTORE FACE when it does.
Preserving Face
Five Suprastrategies
1. Avoidance (chooses not to communicate in to avoid embarrassment)

2. Going Off Record ( hint or in-directly mention FT topic)

3. Negative Politeness (apologize to make yourself appear vulnerable)

4. Positive Politeness (uses flattery)

5. Bald On Record (no regard
commits FTA)
We decide the level of politeness based on who we are communicating with.
SOCIAL DISTANCE: If the person has more prestige, you will be more polite (Impressive Title or Lots of Money)
POWER: If you are communicating with your boss or auto mechanic)
RISK: More polite if someone is going to be hurt (firing) and less polite if they are less likely to be hurt (cheating).
At the end of the day, some behaviors are fundamentally face threatening. No matter how hard we try not to threaten someone's face -- it's inevitable that we will threaten them and they will threaten us.
3rd Assumption
Identify this FTA
Now let's identify some FTAs!
Full transcript