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Politeness Readings: Y. Kachru & L. Smith, Chapter 3; Kyung-Ja Park.

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Presentation on theme: "Politeness Readings: Y. Kachru & L. Smith, Chapter 3; Kyung-Ja Park."— Presentation transcript:

1 Politeness Readings: Y. Kachru & L. Smith, Chapter 3; Kyung-Ja Park

2  The concept of politeness is crucial in any communication, but particularly in cross cultural communication  Communication with others must take culture into consideration  Norms of politeness vary from culture to culture

3  Politeness in High and Low Context Cultures Politeness in High and Low Context Cultures ◦ What is meant by a ‘high context message’? ◦ What is meant by a ‘low context message’? ◦ What is meant by a ‘high’ or a ‘low context culture’? ◦ Is the understanding of this concept important? If so, in what way? If not, why not?

4  All languages have devices to indicate politeness and formality. ◦ Linguistic markers of status, deference, humility ◦ Posture, facial expressions, gestures, etc.  Politeness is closely tied to cultural values.  One must know the cultural values in order to function successfully in a society.

5  Face  Status  Rank  Role  Power  Age  Sex  Social Distance  Intimacy  Kinship  Group membership

6  The public self-image that every member wants to claim for him/herself  Negative face – the claim to freedom of action and freedom from imposition.  Positive face – the positive self-image of the conversation partners.

7  Negative face-threatening speech acts threaten to restrict addressee’s freedom of action or freedom from imposition ◦ Could you lend me $100 until next month? ◦ If I were you, I’d consult a doctor. That sounds serious. ◦ You’re so lucky to have such a good job!  Positive face-threatening speech acts threaten the positive self-image of the addressee by signaling undesirable qualities or disagreement ◦ Wasn’t that report due today? ◦ I’m not sure I agree with your interpretation of that. ◦ ‘Mabel thinks you have put on some weight.’

8  Are all requests considered threatening to the negative face of the interlocutor(s) in other cultures?  Are all less-than-positive comments about one’s appearance considered threatening to the positive fact of the interlocutor(s) in other cultures?

9  ‘… a collection of rights and duties’  ‘… hierarchy and position in a system of roles’  General Rule: The higher the status, the more politeness from the lower status participant ◦ Japanese Politeness Assignment Rule: If the speaker is lower in social status that the hearer, then the utterance has to be polite. If the speaker is higher in social status than the hearer but is lower than the subject of the sentence he is uttering, then the utterance has to be polite.

10  Rank: A hierarchical organization with reference to a social institution. ◦ One’s rank often serves as the term of address ◦ One’s rank often cues the level of politeness required.  Cultures vary as to which relationships are treated as rank relationships and which ones are treated as status relationships

11  Role refers to the less institutionalized position one assumes in some interaction ◦ Host/guest ◦ Captain/team ◦ Etc.

12  Power: The ability to impose one’s will on others  Sometimes high status and high power don’t coincide ◦ Constitutional monarchy In Britain, Japan, Thailand, special terms of address & other markers of polite language use signal the monarch’s high status & power.

13  The relative ages of the speaker and the hearer determine how politeness is expressed  In many speech communities, a younger person may not address an older person by his/her name, even if the younger person is of higher status. In Thailand, even among close friends & casual acquaintances, the younger person uses a term of respect in addressing the older.

14  Sex or gender differences exist in all cultures with respect to polite language ◦ In general, women’s speech is supposed to be more polite. ◦ In many cultures, men’s speech is constrained in the presence of women. ◦ Sex differences take precedence over intimacy in male- female interaction.

15  Social distance is a factor affecting politeness.  Social distance is linked to intimacy. The more intimate the participants are, the less social distance between them. The more intimate, the less polite they are to each other

16  Of participants – significant others  Of setting – boss/employee at a bar-be-cue

17  The relationship between participants determines what linguistic features are used.  India: use of honorific / plural forms of pronouns to address or refer to parents-in-law

18  In some societies, group membership is important in determining what politeness strategies are used. ◦ Japan: certain honorifics used with out-group members only; others for in-group ◦ AAE: signifying & marking  Marking: narrator affects the voice mannerisms of the speaker in the story  Signifying: ‘I see you got your furniture rearranged.’

19  Cultural values determine which parameters (i.e., face, status, rank, role, power, age, sex, social distance, intimacy, kinship, group membership) interact with each other, and which ones are weighted more heavily in comparison with the others.

20 Pronouns of address ◦ Romance languages - ‘tu’ vs. ‘vous’ forms ◦ Thai – use of pronouns for ‘I’ and ‘you’ depends on status, rank, age, sex, social distance/intimacy & kinship/group membership ‘I’‘you’ phŏm/dichăînkhun chănth əə uá ʔ lur kuum ɨŋ rau kææ kháun ɔɔŋ phîinaay nǔuthanetc.

21 Honorifics ◦ Japanese  Yamada ga musuko to syokuzi o tanosinda.  Speaker H, referent & son L  Yamada-san ga musuko-san to o-syokuzi o tanosim-are-ta.  Speaker L, referent & soon H  Yamada-san ga musuko to o-syokuzi o tanosim-are-ta.  Speaker & son L, referent H “Yamada enjoyed dinner with (his/my) son.” ◦ German –  ‘Herr Doktor Professor H ű bner’ ◦ English  ‘Honorable,’ ‘Respected,’ ‘Sir,’ ‘Excellency’

22 Kinship terms  In many Asian languages, kinship terms are often used for people unrelated to the speaker: Uncle / aunt Older sibling Younger sibling etc.

23 Set formulas  Arabic ◦ Alla ma ʔak = ‘God be with you’ ◦ Alla yihfazak = ‘God preserve you’  Hindi ◦ Pra ņ aaam ◦ Xuš raho  Korean ◦ ‘Where are you going?’ ◦ ‘Just over there.’

24 Plurals  In many languages (e.g., Russian, Czech, Serbo- Croatian, some dialects of Polish), plurals may be used to show politeness when addressing a single person. ŋ

25 Questions  In some societies, questions are used to express politeness, e.g. Inner Circle English- speaking cultures. ‘Could you tell me the time?’

26 Indirect speech acts ◦ ‘It’s cold in here.’  In Bengali, requests are sometimes made through plain statements, e.g., in a clothing shop … ◦ Aamaar šar ţ dorkaar ‘I need a shirt.’  In some cultures, talk about some unrelated topic is first indulged in before the real subject is mentioned.

27 Topicalization and focus  In English, topicalization and focus can effect the degree of politeness. ◦ ‘If you DON’T MIND my asking, where did you get that dress? ◦ ‘WHERE did you get that dress, if you don’t mind my asking?’ Which is more polite sounding? Why?

28 Effort  The greater the effort expended in face- maintaining linguistic behavior, the greater the politeness, E.g., ‘I wouldn’t dream of it since I know you are very busy, but I am simply unable to do it myself, so ….’ Is this a universal tendency?

29 Use of ‘little’  Many languages use the phrase ‘a little’ to convey the meaning carried by English ‘please’ in imperatives. ◦ Japanese ‘chotto’ ◦ Thai ‘nooy’ ◦ Milwaukee-ese ‘once’ (as in ‘Come here once’)

30 Hedges  Linguistic devices by which a speaker avoids statements that are considered too strong. ◦ Hedges are used to reduce friction in that they leave the way open for the respondent to disagree with the speaker and the speaker to retreat. ◦ ‘Doc, Sleepy and Grumpy are sorta short.’

31 Gaze, gesture, & body posture  Japanese bow, exchange business cards with two hands  Thais wai, avoid touching the head  The ‘ok’ sign can mean ◦ Money (Japan) ◦ Zero (France) ◦ An obscene comment (Greece)

32  What value system is Korea English rooted in?  What are the characteristics of that value system?  How do those values manifest themselves in Korea English?  What are the implications for international business transactions?

33  Implications for doing business in a global economy - China Implications for doing business in a global economy

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