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Discourse and Pragmatics Politeness and Face. Popular Meanings Face: mian zi, min ji, mentsu, chae myon Concept of honour Politeness: Being ‘nice’, following.

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Presentation on theme: "Discourse and Pragmatics Politeness and Face. Popular Meanings Face: mian zi, min ji, mentsu, chae myon Concept of honour Politeness: Being ‘nice’, following."— Presentation transcript:

1 Discourse and Pragmatics Politeness and Face

2 Popular Meanings Face: mian zi, min ji, mentsu, chae myon Concept of honour Politeness: Being ‘nice’, following certain ‘rules’ of social conduct (‘li’_ Popular ideas of politeness and face are usually governed by expectations about scripts and frames

3 Face The public self-image one wishes to claim Linked to fundamental cultural assumptions about the ‘social persona’ Can be lost, maintained, or enhanced Mutual cooperative concern with face is integral to social interaction

4 Face (Goffman) ‘the positive social value a person effectively claims for him(her)self by the line others assume he (she) has taken during a particular contact’ Face is located in the flow of events ‘on loan’ from society

5 Face needs Need to be liked Need to be accepted Need to avoid embarrassment Need to uphold our ‘line’

6 ‘Facework’ The communication strategies used to protect,maintain, and enhance face, to satisfy face needs and to mitigate face threats The ‘traffic rules’ of social interaction defensive orientation (towards saving own face) protective orientation (towards saving H’s face)

7 ‘Facework’ Different people, groups and ‘cultures’ have their own characteristic repertoire of face saving practice

8 Face: The Linguistic Meaning Linguistic meaning Face the negotiated public image mutually granted each other by participants in communication Politeness How we signal our relationship with and feelings towards those we are communicating with in our language use

9 Politeness

10 Is this polite? ‘Ms. Cheung, I wonder if you could please get back to me on this matter at your earliest convenience…’

11 Is this polite?

12 A: Hello. B: Hi Rodney. Can you guess who this is?

13 Is this ‘polite’ ‘Wow, you look awful today! Is there anything wrong? To you best friend? To your boss?

14 My Mother in England

15 The Paradox of Face


17 The Problem We want people to like us We want people to respect us Respect and intimacy are expressed in different ways

18 Two kinds of face Negative face (desire for autonomy, personal space,freedom from imposition, freedom of action) Positive face (desire for self-image to be acknowledged and approved of) Each are addressed with specific forms of face work

19 Politeness how we express SOCIAL DISTANCE/CLOSENESS and POWER RELATIONSHIPS in our language

20 There is no ‘faceless’ communication All communication is a ‘risk’ to face You have to make inferences about and protect the other person’s need to be liked or respected You have to protect your own need to be liked or respected

21 Two Kinds of Face Strategies Positive Face Strategies ‘Solidarity’ Showing ‘closeness’ or solidarity using first name, expressing interest, claiming common point of view, using informal language Called ‘Involvement’ Face Strategies

22 Positive Face Strategies Use first name or nicknames Use informal language Use a ‘common language’ Act interested, sympathetic Be direct Agree Claim common experiences, interests, group membership Talk about ‘us’

23 Two Kinds of Face Strategy Negative Face Strategies Showing ‘respect’ using titles, not making assumptions, apologizing, using formal language Called ‘Negative’ Face Strategies

24 Negative Face Strategies Use titles Use formal language Don’t make assumptions Apologize Be indirect Try to minimize imposition Hedge Talk about things not having to do with us

25 Independence and Involvement In any interaction we usually use both independence and involvement strategies The problem is deciding how and when to use these strategies Based on who we are talking to why we are talking to them

26 Why is politeness dangerous?

27 Paradox of Face We all want to be liked and respected at the same time We have to manage positive and negative face strategies at once You always run the risk of being too hot or too cold Different groups might favor different strategies

28 Role Plays

29 Face Systems Face systems are based on three different aspects of the situation Power (+P power difference, -P no power difference) Distance (+D distant, -D close) Weight of Imposition (how important topic is for speakers, +W important, -W not very important) Values exist on a scale (not absolute)

30 Deference Face System -P, +D symmetrical (equal) participants see themselves as at same social level distant both would use mostly independence strategies

31 Solidarity Face System -P, -D symmetrical close both participants likely to use more involvement strategies

32 Hierarchical Face System +P, +/-D asymmetrical (unequal) asymmetrical face strategies higher uses more involvement lower uses more independence

33 Deference Speaker Solidarity Speaker Speaker Hierarchical Speaker (involvement) Speaker (independence)

34 But it’s really not that simple... There is another factor W Weight of imposition W+/ W-

35 To make it even more complicated We usually use a COMBINATION of strategies We negotiate system/strategies with the people we are talking to

36 Video Watch the video Note how the characters use politeness strategies Are they successful? What’s the problem?

37 Conflicting Strategies/Mixed up systems Two businessmen meeting for the first time Mr R: (reading Mr. Wong’s business card which says Wong Hon Fai) Hi, Hon Fai. I’m Bill Richardson. My friends call me Bill. Mr W: How do you do Mr. Richardson. Mr. Wong thinks: That guy is acting too familiar, who does he think he is? expects deference system, hears hierarchical system Mr. R. thinks: This guy doesn’t want to be my friend. He’s not very nice. expects solidarity system, hears deference system

38 Task Look at the situations and rate them according to P, D, and W Discuss how you might act in these situations


40 Acts threatening H’s positive face Disapproval, criticism, ridicule, complaints, reprimands, accusations, insults Contradictions, disagreements Violent expressions of emotion, taboo topics, bad news, non-cooperation, use of ‘inappropriate’ address forms or conversational style

41 Acts threatening H’s negative face Orders, requests, suggestions, advice, reminders, warnings, threats Offers, promises Compliments Expressions of strong emotion (anger, hate, lust)

42 Acts threatening S’s positive face Apologies Accepting compliments Loss of bodily control (bodily leakage) Loss of emotional control (emotional leakage) ‘Acting stupid’ Confessions and admission of guilt

43 Act threatening S’s negative face Expressing or accepting thanks Accepting an apology Making excuses Accepting offers Making unwilling promises or offers

44 Politeness Strategies Don’t do the FTA Do the FTA off record (indirectly) on record (directly without politeness (baldly) with politeness positive politeness negative politeness

45 Politeness Strategies Estimation of greater face loss Estimation of lesser face loss

46 Politeness Strategies Positive Politeness ‘Involvement’ approach based showing S wants what H wants, treating H as member of group friend, someone you know and like Negative Politeness ‘Independence’ avoidance based formality, restraint, distancing

47 Positive Politeness Strategies Notice and attend to H’s wants and needs Exaggerate interest, approval, sympathy Use in-group identity markers Seek agreement/avoid disagreement Assert common ground Joke Be optimistic Give offers, promises, reasons, sympathy, understanding, cooperation

48 Negative Politeness Strategies Be indirect Hedge Be pessimistic Minimize imposition Give deference Apologize Depersonalize (avoid ‘you’, ‘I’)

49 Task Case Studies

50 Chart two: Complete System

51 How do we decide which strategy to use? Power (P) Distance (D) Weight of Imposition (W)

52 Power What’s the difference between how you do FTAs towards your parents and your younger sister? Your teacher and your classmate? -P positive politeness (involvement) +P lower person: negative politeness (respect) higher person: positive politeness

53 Distance What’s the difference between the way you do FTA’s towards your friend and towards a stranger? -D positive politeness (involvement) +D negative politeness (independence)

54 Weight of imposition What’s the difference between how you do big FTAs and small FTAs? -W positive politeness +W negative politeness

55 Combinations +P, -D, +W -P, +D, -W -P, -D, +W Values are never absolute We always use a combination of strategies

56 Face and ‘Culture’ Different cultures have different ways to judge P, D, and W Different cultures have different ways of expressing negative politeness and positive politeness Effect of power, status, age and gender

57 Chinese conceptions of face Face not seen to belong to self alone, but also to group (family) Politeness strategies characterized by self-denigration and respect (negative politeness (li) Heavily encoded in the language

58 Two kinds of Chinese Face Mianzi (prestige, reputation, either earned or ascribed) Lian (respect for a person’s underlying moral character) Morality defined as subordinating one’s own face wants to those of the group

59 Mianzi vs. Lian Losing mianzi loss of one’s reputation because of failure or misfortune Losing lian loss of one’s moral standing in the community Lian more important than mianzi Mianzi can have negative connotations (being overly concerned with self-image)

60 Mianzi vs. Lian Possible to lose Mianzi but gain lian Example: J.J. Chan to gain mianzi at the expense of lian in the end will cost one both (Mao 1994)

61 Task Go to a shop and pretend you want to buy something. Notice how the shop attendant manages politeness strategies and FTA’s (also notice how you do it!)

62 Conclusion Politeness is the way we communicate our relationship in interaction There is no ‘faceless’ communication the ‘paradox of face’

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