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Cheryl Roloff

on 13 February 2013

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Transcript of Sociolinguistics--Politeness

This concept does not fit the traditional
Eastern ethos of identifying with the
group, in which each person has a
place defined by obligations and rights
in relation to superiors, equals and inferiors. According to Geoffrey Leech,
the Western idea is that the
individual has rights and wants
which need to be respected
and indulged: the individual
is entitled to assert those
rights and wants, unless
they interfere too much
with others. A friend suggest that you skip
work or class to go to the movies
but you don't want to do that.
What would be a polite way of
getting out of it? 2 ways to look at politeness: Semantics politeness:
Can you help me? is more polite than Help me. But Could you possibly help me? is the most polite.

Pragmatic politeness:
Could I possibly interrupt? could be understood as "too polite" if spoken to family members. Politeness needs to be appropriate to the situation. To Whom You Speak How would you ask someone to feed your pets while you are on vacation?

A family member or best friend? by Rachel Fouts and Cheryl Roloff Being polite as a variable in speech Miriam Meyerhoff (p.91) "We generally put more effort into being polite to people who are in positions of greater social power than we are"

"Social distance between speakers has a tremendous impact on how they speak to each other. We are generally more polite to people who we don't know very well, and we generally feel we can be more abrupt with people who are close friends." If It's Not an Imposition... How would you ask for these things?

to borrow $10
to borrow $1000
a ride in their car-it's not out of their way
a ride in their car-it's 20 miles out of their way Cost of an Imposition Brown and Levinson believed that in order to understand the different politeness strategies people use was how big the social infraction is.
Asking someone for the time is generally considered a minor imposition. As a consequence, you can ask complete strangers for the time by politely saying, "Excuse me, do you have the time?"
Asking for money is generally considered a greater imposition, and usually you would only do this with someone you are fairly close to. The more money you want to request, the better you will probably want to know that person whom you're asking. "The human personality is a sacred thing;
one dare not violate it nor infringe its
bounds, while at the same time the greatest good is in communion with others."
(Durkheim, 1) What is Being Polite? Politeness is described as a social norm, or a set of prescriptive social "rules". Many linguists have aimed to research politeness, including Brown and Levinson (1987), who developed their 'face theory' based on the principles of our desire to be liked and to not be imposed upon.

positive face is the desire to be appreciated and liked
negative face is the desire to have freedom and not to be imposed upon
a Face Threatening Act (FTA) is an act which deliberately threatens the face needs of others.
In order to save face, people have the option to use politeness superstrategies with FTAs:

1) Bald on Record is not attempting to minimise the face threat.
2) Positive Politeness is showing you value someone so minimising the threat to the positive face.
3) Negative Politeness is not impeding on someone so minimising the threat to the positive face.
4) Off Record is avoiding responsibility There are also impoliteness superstrategies which can be used with FTAs: 1) Bald on Record is an unmitigated intentional face attack.
2) Positive Impoliteness is attacking the positive face need by not showing you value someone like criticism, insults, disagreements
3) Negative Impoliteness is attacking the negative face need by imposing on someone like orders, threats, requests
4) Off Record is using indirect offense such as sarcasm or banter
5) Withhold is failing to be polite when it is expected 1) It is not universal or is ethnocentric
2) The super strategies for positive and negative FTAs cannot be scaled, especially not equally
3) Off record request are more polite than on record requests Brown and Levison republished 10 years later and addressed some criticisms such as: "Politeness presupposes the potential for aggression as it seeks to disarm it, and makes possible communication between potentially aggressive parties" (Brown, 1)
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