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Robin Lakoff's politeness principles

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Asha Ali

on 9 October 2012

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Transcript of Robin Lakoff's politeness principles

Robin Lakoff's Politeness Principles Lakoff is a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. Her most famous work was the subject of women’s language where she believed women’s speech can be distinguished in certain features. Lakoff wrote various books such as ‘The logic of politeness’s in 1973 which Lakoff argued governs conversations, she devised the ‘politeness principle’ in 3 maxims Lakoff's background 1. Don’t impose
2. Give options and
3. Make your receiver feel good The three maxims Lakoff was one of the first serious linguists to look into the social implications of the differences in men and women’s use of speech. She analysed the links between language, gender and power in her novel ‘Language and women’s place’, where she questions who holds the power and how they use it.
Lakoff argues that language is important to see the inequality according to gender it could contribute to the lack of women’s power in two areas- Language used about women and the language used by women. Speech Lakoff claimed that there were certain features of women’s language that gave the impression women are weaker and less certain than men are. Women’s language was distinguished in a number of ways including:
1. Hedging- uncertainty and lack of authority e.g. ‘sort of’
2. Super polite forms – ‘If you don’t mind please may you..’
3. Hyper correct grammar and pronunciation- e.g. women avoid ‘ain’t’ or double negatives
4. Tag questions – show that women want approval from their utterances e.g. ‘I’m coming with you, all right?’
5.Speaking in italics – women use exaggerated intonation or stress for emphasis, expresses uncertainty e.g. ‘I am very frustrated with you’
6. Empty adjectives approval- Lakoff claims that if a man uses these terms he appears more feminine as it damages his masculine prestige e.g. ‘divine, lovely, adorable, delightful and sweetie’
7. Sense of humour lacking- Lakoff argued that women don’t joke as much or understand jokes.
8. Speak less frequently – men speak more often than women, proves women to be less certain of themselves.
9. Indirect speech- ‘Wow, I’m so thirsty’ instead of asking for a drink.
10. 14. Apologies- ‘I’m sorry, but I think that’ Women's language Lakoff analyses the language differences according to gender. E.g. Why men are superior to women.


Do you believe that men are superior to women through language and why? Summary
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