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A study on english politeness strategies for refusals with reference to vietnamese equivalents

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A. THESIS

A STUDY ON ENGLISH POLITENESS
STRATEGIES FOR REFUSALS WITH REFERENCE
TO VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS
(NGHIÊN CỨU CHIẾN LƯỢC LỊCH SỰ ĐỐI VỚI LỜI TỪ CHỐI
TRONG TIẾNG ANH ĐỐI CHIẾU VỚI TIẾNG VIỆT)

PHẠM THU TRANG

Hanoi, 2016


MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A. THESIS


A STUDY ON ENGLISH POLITENESS
STRATEGIES FOR REFUSALS WITH REFERENCE
TO VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS
(NGHIÊN CỨU CHIẾN LƯỢC LỊCH SỰ ĐỐI VỚI LỜI TỪ CHỐI
TRONG TIẾNG ANH ĐỐI CHIẾU VỚI TIẾNG VIỆT)

PHẠM THU TRANG

Field: English Language
Code: 60220201

Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lê Văn Thanh

Hanoi, 2016


CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY
I, the undersigned, hereby certify my authority of the study project report
entitled A STUDY ON ENGLISH POLITENESS STRATEGIES FOR
REFUSALS

WITH

REFERENCE

TO

VIETNAMESE

EQUIVALENTS submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for
the degree of Master in English Language. Except where the reference is
indicated, no other person’s work has been used without due
acknowledgement in the text of the thesis.
Hanoi, 2016

Pham Thu Trang

Approved by
SUPERVISOR


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Le Van Thanh
Date:……………………

i


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This thesis could not have been completed without the help and
support from a number of people.
Foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my
supervisor Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lê Văn Thanh for the continuous support of my
M.A study and research, for his patience, motivation, enthusiasm, and
immense knowledge. His guidance helped me in all the time of research
and writing of this thesis. I could not have imagined having a better advisor
and mentor for my M.A study.
A special word of thanks goes to all my lecturers in Postgraduate
Department of Hanoi Open University and my classmates, without whose
support and encouragement it would never have been possible for me to
have this thesis accomplished.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my family: my parents, for
the sacrifice they have devoted to the fulfillment of this academic work.

ii


ABSTRACT
One of the speech acts commonly applied in English and
Vietnamese conversations is refusal. Getting politeness strategies for
refusals makes language learners use languages more accurately, flexibly
and efficiently. Nevertheless, politeness strategies for refusals have not
been paid much attention to in teaching and learning English. This research
was implimented with the theoretical fundament of contrastive analysis,
conversation analysis and viewpoints on language-culture relationship as
frameworks so as to consider the similarities and differences between the
English and Vietnamese politeness strategies for refusals through
everyday conversations, to improve the effectiveness of the teaching and
learning of this speech act in English and Vietnamese. Furthermore, finding
out the politeness strategies for refusals and investigating the similarities
and differences in two languages can make the Vietnamese learners
overcome the difficulties causing the interfere of two cultures when they
deal with the confused cases of refusing.

iii


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
A: American
D: Distance
FTA: face-threatening act
H: hearer
L2: The second language
NSs: Native speakers
S: speaker
(S): Situation
V: Vietnamese
Italic type is used for terms and examples.

iv


LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES

Table 1: The frequency of refusals used by English and Vietnamese
speakers ..................................................................................................... 38
Table 2: The frequency of politeness strategies for refusals used by English
and Vietnamese speakers ........................................................................... 46

Figure 1: Politeness strategy used by the English and Vietnamese speakers
in situation 1 and situation 2. ..................................................................... 47
Figure 2: Politeness strategies for refusals used by the English and
Vietnamese speakers in situation 3 and situation 4..................................... 51
Figure 3: Politeness strategy used by the English and Vietnamese speakers
in situation 5 and situation 6 ...................................................................... 55

v


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY ............................................................ i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ......................................................................... ii
ABSTRACT ...............................................................................................iii
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ..................................................................... iv
LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES………………………………………..v
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ................................................................ 1
1.1

Rationale of the study ...................................................................... 1

1.2

Aims of the study............................................................................. 3

1.3

Objectives of the study .................................................................... 3

1.4

Scope of study ................................................................................. 3

1.5

Significance of the study.................................................................. 4

1.6

Design of the study .......................................................................... 4

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ...................................................... 6
2.1 Review of previous studies ................................................................. 6
2.1.1 Review of related studies on refusals worldwide .................................... 6
2.1.2 Review of related studies on refusals in Vietnam.................................... 6
2.2 Review of theoretical background ....................................................... 7
2.2.1 Speech acts ............................................................................................... 7
2.2.2 Politeness................................................................................................ 14
2.2.3 Refusal as a speech act ........................................................................... 26
2.2.4 Speech acts and politeness ..................................................................... 28
2.2.5 Some viewpoints on politeness in Vietnamese language ...................... 28
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2.2.6 Factors affecting directness and indirectness in human interaction....... 29
2.2.7 Social distance, social status and gender................................................ 30
2.2.8 Summary ................................................................................................ 32
CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY.............................................................. 33
3.1 Research questions ............................................................................ 33
3.2 Research participants ........................................................................ 33
3.3 Research procedure ........................................................................... 34
3.4 Data collection instruments ............................................................... 34
3.5 Research method ............................................................................... 36
3.6 Reliability and validity ...................................................................... 37
3.7 Summary .......................................................................................... 37
CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION ........................................ 38
4.1 Result overview ................................................................................ 38
4.2. Data analysis results ......................................................................... 46
4.2.1: The choice of politeness strategies to refuse in high power settings .... 46
4.2.2 The choice of politeness strategies to refuse in equal power settings.... 51
4.2.3. The choice of politeness strategies to refuse in low power settings ..... 55
4.3 Discussion......................................................................................... 59
4.3.1: The similarities and differences between the politeness strategies in
refusals of English speakers and Vietnamese speakers .................................. 59
4.3.2. The influence of relative power and social distance to the selection of
politeness strategies by native speakers of English and Vietnamese.............. 62
4.4 Summary .......................................................................................... 62
CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION ................................................................... 64
vii


5.1 Summary, major findings and implications on teaching .................... 64
5.1.1 Summary ................................................................................................ 64
5.1.2 Major findings ........................................................................................ 65
5.1.3 Implications on teaching ........................................................................ 66
5.2 Limitations of the study and suggestions for further study ................ 68
5.2.1 Limitations of the study ......................................................................... 68
5.2.2 Suggestions for further studies…………………………………..68
REFERENCES .......................................................................................... 70

viii


CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Rationale of the study
Language is considered to be the best and the most surprising
achievement of human. It is applied everyday and has become an important
part of our lives. It is not only a mental phenomenon but also a social one.
When we learn foreign languages, we should be able to implement effective
communication. In other words, learning a language is learning the culture
of its native country. Therefore, deep knowledge of culture is beneficial to
learners in terms of communicating with foreigners.
Human communication is a combination of cooperation and
understanding. Success in communication depends greatly on the ability to
recognize speakers' communicative intentions and pragmatic meaning of
their utterances. Actually, those who may be regarded as fluent in a second
language owing to their phonetic, syntactic and semantic knowledge of that
language may still be unable to produce language that is socially and
culturally appropriate. As a result, Larina (2008) shows that numerous
problems in communication occur because people do not only speak
different languages but use them in different ways according to specific
social and linguistic norms, values, and social-cultural convention.
In everyday social life, people are sometimes invited to go
somewhere or to do something. Accepting an invitation is a delicate matter
although it is much easier than rejecting as the latter is a face-threatening
act. However, there are situations in which invitations cannot avoid refusals.
English and Vietnamese are languages of two different cultural
backgrounds, the potential for intercultural miscommunication through
speech act performance in general and the speech act of refusal to
requests in particular is also growing. As we all know, refusals may also
be understood

as dispreferred messages. They threat the addressee’s
1


negative face, therefore, they are

often

realized

through

indirect

strategies, which require a high level of pragmatic competence. If refusals
are challenging for native speakers
negotiation

moves,

as

they

may

involve

lengthy

the situation becomes even more complex in

interacting between native speakers (NSs) and non-native speakers
(NNs). Taking into consideration the importance of refusals in everyday
communication, I have decided to choose the subject: “A study on English
politeness strategies for refusals with reference to Vietnamese equivalents”
to enhance the efficiency of the teaching and learning of this speech act in
English and Vietnamese, create the tactfulness and flexibility in language
use for both Vietnamese learner of English and English-speaking learners of
Vietnam with the maxim declared in a Vietnamese proverb: “You don’t
have to buy words, so don’t let them hurt the feelings of others.”
Understanding social etiquette and paying attention to politeness and face
which are important to each person in a culture.
Based mainly on the speech act theory of Austin (1962) and Searle
(1969), the politeness theory put forward by Brown and Levinson
(1987) and some other supporting theories, this study will investigate
the realization of refusal strategies by English speakers and Vietnamese
speakers. By modifying a discourse comprehension test developed by
Bebee et al (1990), this study will provide a more broad understanding of
the discrepancies that can exist in performing the refusal strategies between
English speakers and Vietnamese speakers, helping, to some extent,
resolve and simplify cross-cultural misunderstanding.
Many people devalue the importance of invitation's refusal strategies
because normally, it is a person right to say something he/she doesn't like or
doesn't want to. However, it is not as simple as it is thought to be since

2


misbehavior in this domain can result in the interlocutor's feeling of being
shocked, angry, or even seriously insulted. It is because every body, as a
human being, expects the appreciation and respect from others. America and
Vietnam are two countries with different culture so their social and
linguistic norms are different as well. This paper is an attempt to provide a
cross-culture comparison of ways English and Vietnamese deal with a
tactful-required kind of speech act: polite refusals.
1.2 Aims of the study
The major aim of the study is to identify and explain the choice of
politeness strategies for refusals in English and Vietnamese in terms of cross
cultural interactions.
In addition, the second aim is to contribute some suggestions in
teaching and learning English as the second language.
1.3 Objectives of the study
- To explore the way the English and Vietnamese speakers make
refusals.
- To find out the similarities and differences in politeness refusal
strategies between English and Vietnamese.
- To give some suggestions in teaching and learning English in the
different situations of refusals.
1.4 Scope of study
Refusing is a very broad and complicated field and it is impossible to
cover all aspects of this issue. In the frame of the research, I just focus on
merely verbal communication. Any other features related to non-verbal
communication and phonology will not be mentioned in this topic.

3


This study particularly discusses speech acts of polite refusals across
English and Vietnamese languages and cultures to find out some similarities
and differences between them.
1.5 Significance of the study
The need for the scientific study of cross-cultural communication has
been regarded as a main issue in the field of applied linguistics not only for
the purposes of language learning and teaching, but also for enhancing
cross-cultural understanding. It is most expected that the findings of this
study will contribute to the field of pragmatics study especially studies
concerning the speech act of refusals and also in the development of
communicative competence.
Refusals are important because of their communicatively central place
in every day communication. It is often difficult to reject requests. It is even
harder to reject them in a foreign language without the risk of offending the
interlocutor. This involves not only linguistic knowledge, but also pragmatic
knowledge. One can have a wide range of vocabulary and a sound
knowledge of grammar, but misunderstandings can still arise if they can not
apply their pragmatic competence appropriately.
Based on the concepts discussed, the study on hand will put its
emphasis on selected variables that control the way people deal with the act
of refusing in their daily conversations. These include social distance
(intimate, acquaintance, stranger); social status (low, high, equal); and
gender (same gender, opposite gender). We begin working based on the
literature on conversation and speech acts that these variables play main roles
in the choice of strategies used by English speakers and Vietnamese speakers.
1.6 Design of the study
This study is divided into five chapters:
4


Chapter 1: Introduction, this part gives us the overview of the thesis
including rationale, aims and objectives, significance, scope an design of the
study.
Chapter 2: Literature review, this chapter provides the theoretical
background including speech act theory, politeness strategies.
Chapter 3: Methodology, this chapter focuses on presenting research
participants, research procedure, data collection, as well as methods of
analysis.
Chapter 4: Findings and discussion, this chapter presents the results gained
in survey questionnaires and observation and discusses the similarities and
differences in how to refuse politely in English and Vietnamese.
Chapter 5: Conclusion, this chapter summarizes the main points discussed
throughout the study, provides the limitations of the study and suggests
further studies.

5


CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Review of previous studies
2.1.1 Review of related studies on refusals worldwide
A great deal of research has been done on the speech acts of refusing
in comparison to the mother tongue and the second. Austin devided speech
acts into five types and he explained that the exercitives are the
exercising of powers, rights, or influence. Searl made effort to devide
illocutionary acts into six types and gave the definition of directives clear.
Another key contributions are: Takahashi and Beebe (1987); Beebe,
Takahashi and Uliss-Weltz (1990); other refusal studies, researched by
Tickle (1991); A recent study by Al-Eryani (2007) on refusal strategies of
Yemeni EFL learners.
2.1.2 Review of related studies on refusals in Vietnam
Luu Quy Khuong and Tran Thi Phuong Thao researched the ways of
refusing a request for help in English and Vietname. Especially, Luu Quy
Khuong investigated the similarities and differences of responses to
invitations in English. Diep Quang Ban explored the means of showing
directives’ propositions as specialized words (chớ, hãy, đừng), modal verbs
(cần, nên, phải), adverb (cứ), and performative verbs (xin, mong, đề nghị,
yêu cầu, ra lệnh, cấm, mời, khuyên...) and he also concerned with
directives’ intonation. Ton Nu My Nhat showed cultural features of English
and Vietnamese directive conversations. Nguyen Thi To Nga investigated
syntactic and pragmatic features of directives in English and Vietnamese.
The research showed that there is still a gap in the field for this study “A
study on English politeness strategies for refusals with reference to
Vietnamese equivalents” to be conducted.

6


2.2 Review of theoretical background
2.2.1 Speech acts
2.2.1.1 Definition of speech acts
Making a statement may be the paradigmatic use of language, but
there are all sorts of other things we can do with words. We can make
requests, ask questions, give orders, make promises, give thanks, offer
apologies, and so on. Moreover, almost any speech act is really the
performance of several acts at once, distinguished by different aspects of the
speaker's intention: there is the act of saying something, what one does in
saying it, such as requesting or promising, and how one is trying to affect one's
audience.

The theory of speech acts is partly taxonomic and partly explanatory.
It must systematically classify types of speech acts and the ways in which
they can succeed or fail. It must reckon with the fact that the relationship
between the words being used and the force of their utterance is often
oblique. For example, the sentence “This is a pig sty” might be used
nonliterally to state that a certain room is messy and filthy and, further, to
demand indirectly that it be straightened out and cleaned up. Even when this
sentence is used literally and directly, say to describe a certain area of a
barnyard.
Speech acts have been studied and defined by different theorists such
as Austin (1962), Hymes (1964), Searle (1969), Levinson (1983), Brown
and Yule (1983), and others. Their common theme is that a speech act is a
unit of speaking. These units each perform certain functions such as
inviting, thanking, apologizing or advising. Indeed, when trying to express
themselves, people produre utterences containing grammatical structures
and words and at the same time perform actions via those utterances.

7


In the 1950s and 60s two philosophers of language, John Austin and
John Searle, developed speech act theory from their observation that
language is used to do things other than just refer to the truth or falseness of
particular statements. Austin's book How to Do Things with Words (1962)
is the next to a series of lectures he gave at Harvard University on this topic.
John Searle, a student of Austin, further developed Austin's work in his
book Speech Acts, which was published in 1969.
Austin's and Searle's work appeared at a time when logical positivism
was the prevailing view in the philosophy of language. They launched a
strong and influential attack on this work. The logical positive view of
language argued that a sentence is always used to describe some fact, or
state of affairs and, unless it could be tested for truth or falsity, is basically
meaningless. Austin and Searle observed that there are many sentences that
cannot meet such truth conditions but that are, nevertheless, valid sentences
and do things that go beyond their literal meaning.
Searle and Austin argued that in the same way that we perform
physical acts, such as having a meal or closing a door, we can also perform
acts by using language. We can use language, for example, to give orders, to
make requests, to give warnings, or to give advice. They called these speech
acts. Thus people do things with words in much the same way as they
perform physical actions.
Austin (1962) took the pioneering role in formularizing the theory of
speech acts. According to him, all utterances should be viewed as actions of
the speakers, stating of descrbing is only one function of language. He
pointed out that declarative sentences are not only used to say things or
describe state of affairs but also used to do things

8


Also, in 1962, he defined speech acts as the actions performed in
saying something. When people produre utterances, they often perform
actions via those utterances. These actions are called speech acts, such as
apology, complaint, compliment, invitation, promise, or request. A speech
act is a part of a speech event. The speech act performed by producing an
utterance consists of three related acts including locutionary act,
illocutionary act and perlocutionary act. They are listed as follows:
Perlocutionary act is what we bring about or achieve by saying
something, such as convincing, persuading, detering perlocutionary acts are
performed only on the assumption that the hearer will recognize the effect
you intended.
Among the three acts, illocutionary act is in fact the most informative
because as saying, we not only make our utternces understandable to hearer
but also covey our certain implication. In order to make illocutionary acts
comprehensible in conversation, both speaker and hearer must follow a socalled cooperative priciple. As in H.Jason and P.Stockwell, 1996: 140: “The
assumption in communucation that speakers intend to mean things and that
hearer accept tihis in trying to work out intended meanings”. Whithout
cooperative principle, speakers and hearers can’t understan each other, and
thus illocutionary act is non-sense.
Locutionary act is the basic act of producing a meaningful linguistic
expression (According to G.Yule). The locutionary act is performed with
some purposes oer functions in mind. For instance, if we make a simple
sentence “I will stay at home’ we are likely to produce a locutionary act
because of its meaningfulness. In linguistics, locutionary act is the subject of
semantics.

9


Illocutionary act is an act performed in saying something. It is
closely connected with the speaker’s intention such as stating, questioning,
promising, giving commands, threatening and many others. Illocutionary
acts are considred the core of the theory of speech acts. Basically,
illocutionary act indicateshow the whole utterance is to be taken into the
conversation. Sometimes it is not easy to determine what kind of
illocutinary act the speaker performs, therefore, it is also neccessary for the
hearer to be acquainted with the context the speech act occurs in.
Let’s analyze the example: “The door is here”. This simple
declarative sentence can be interepreted in at leat two ways. It can be either
understood literally a reply to the question “Where is the way out?” or
possible “Where is the door?” or it can be taken as an indirect request to ask
somebody to leave. The sentence has thus got two illocutionary forces:
direct speech act and indirect speech act.
Green (1975) emphasizes that speech acts are viewed and performed
differently in different cultures. In fact, it has been proved that people in
different cultures chooses alternative ways to express speech acts. These
differences in many cases proved, lead to misunderstading and
miscommunication in cross-culture interaction.
The theory of speech acts studies the relations between language
symbols and their use for communication purposes.
There are many ways of expressing themselves, “people do not only
produce utterances containing grammartical structures and words, they
perform actions via those utterances” (Yule, 1996: 47). If you work in a
situation where a boss has a great deal of power, then his utterance of
expression, “You are fired”, is more than just a statement. This utterance
can be used to perform the act of ending your employment. However, the

10


actions performed by utterances do not have to be as unpleasant as in the
one above. Actions can be quite pleasant, as in the acknowledgement of
thanks: “You’re welcome”, or the expression of surprise: “Who’d have
thought it?”, or in Vietnamese “Ai mà nghĩ thế?”. Paltridge (2000) provided
us the definition of Speech Act:
A Speech Act is an utterance that serves a function in communication.
Some examples are an apology, greeting, request, complaint, invitation,
compliment or refusal. A speech act might contain just one word such as
“No” to perform a refusal or several words or sentences such as: "I'm sorry,
I can't, I have a prior engagement". It is important to mention that speech
acts include real-life interactions and require not only knowledge of the
language but also appropriate use of that language within a given culture.
Socio-cultural variables like authority, social distance, and situational
setting influence the appropriateness and effectiveness of politeness
strategies used to realize directive speech acts such as requests (p. 15).
2.2.1.2 Classification of speech acts
2.2.1.2.1 Yule’ Classification
Five types of general functions performed by speech acts are
classified, including expressives, directives, commissives, declarations and
representatives, according to the speech act at theory of Searle, J. and Yule,
G (Pragmatic, 1996):
- Expressives are speech acts that speaker feel. They point out
psychological states and can be statements of pleasure, pain, likes,
dislikes, joy, and sorrow: They can be led by something the speaker
does or the hearer does, but they are about the speaker’s experience.
For example, “I’m really sorry”, “Congratulation”, “Oh, yes, great,
mmmm, ahhh!” [p.53].
11


- Directives are speech acts that speaker use to get someone else to do
something. They express what speaker wants. They are commands,
orders, requests, suggestions. For example, “Give me a cup of coffee.
Make it black.”, “Could you lend me a pen, please?”, “Don’t touch
that” [p.54].
- Commissives are speech acts that speaker use to commit themselves
to some future action. They express what the speaker intends. They
are promises, threats, refusals, pledges. For example, “I’ll be back’,
“I’m going to get it right next times”, “We will not do that”. [p.54]
- Declarations are speech acts that make the world change via the
utterance. In illustration, the speaker needs to have a special
institutional role, in a particular context, so as to perform a
declaration appropriately. For instance, “Priest: I now pronoun you
husband and wife”, “Referee: you’are out”, “Jury Foreman: We find
the defendant guilty” [p.53].
- Representatives are speech acts that state what speaker believes to be
the case or not. Statement of facts, assertion, conclusions, are
descriptions are representatives. For example, “The earth is flat”,
“Chomsky didn’t write about peanuts”, and “It was a warm sunny
day”[p.53].
It is highly advisable for us to be involved in making politeness in
speech acts like: requesting, thanking, inviting, etc. It is undeniable that
politeness plays an essential role that is a communicative need in all
cultures. In brief, politeness can be treated as both comminucative and
cultural concept.

12


2.2.1.2.2 Austin’s classification
Austin (1962) claims that the declarative sentences are not only used
to say things or describing the states of affairs but also used to do things. He
takes the initial role in formulating the theory of speech acts. In accordance
to his study, all utterances should be considered as actions of spearkers,
stating or descrbing is only one function of language. In How to Do Things
with Words, Austin identifies three distinct levels of action beyond the act of
saying something, what one does in saying it. And what one diea by saying
it throught out the dame purposes, topic and participants.
Dr. Ho Ngoc Trung shows that Austin catergorised illocutionary acts
into five classes in Lecture on Discourse Analysis (2013: 82).
Commissive: the whole point of a commissive is to commit the
speaker to a certain course of action. They may include a declaration or an
announcement of intention. For example: determine to, purpose to, intend,
agree, bet…
Behabetive: consist of the notion of reaction to other people’s
behavior and fortune and of attitudes to someone slse’s past conduct or
imminent conduct, example are: aoplogize, thank, compliment, condole,
complain…
Expositive: indentify how utterances fit into on going dicourse, or
how thay are being used like: affirm, deny, inform, tell, explain…
Verdictive: typified by giving of a verdict by a jury, umpire,
arbitrator such as acquit, grade, esstimate, diagnose, rare, analyse, put is as,
reckon, value, characterize, interpret as, measure.
Excercituve: is the exercising of powers, rights, or influence. An
exercitive is the giving of a decision in favor of or against a certain course

13


of action. It is the decision that something is to be distinct from a
judgement. It is a very wide class; example are: appoint, dismiss, degrade,
order, sentence, warn…
2.2.2 Politeness
2.2.2.1 Politeness theory
Politeness is the expression of the speakers’ intention to mitigate face
threats carried by certain face threatening acts toward another (Mills, 2003,
p. 6). Another definition is "a battery of social skills whose goal is to ensure
everyone feels affirmed in a social interaction". Being polite therefore
consists of attempting to save face for another.
Politeness theory is the theory that accounts for the redressing of the
affronts to face posed by face-threatening acts to addressees. First
formulated in 1987 by Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson, politeness
theory has since expanded academia’s perception of politeness.
Politeness can be at once be understood as a social phenomenon, a
means to achieve good interpersonal relationships, and a norm imposed by
social conventions. So it is phenomenal, instrumental and normative by
nature. In social interaction, people always try to make their speech as polite
as possible. In most of studies, the politeness has beeb conceptualized
especially as strategic conflict-avoidance or as strategic construction of
cooperative human communication. Yule (1996) generalized politeness as
“the means employed to show awareness of another person’face”. and as
“the idea of social polite behavior or equitette, within a culture involves
certain general principles as being tactful, generous, modest, sympathetic
towards others” (G.Yule.1996: 60).

14


Refering to requests in particular, a native speaker of the language
uses certain strategies in order to main norms and principles that form part
of social interaction. As Bonn (2000:32) exposes:
“Speaking in a polite maner involves being aware of the effect a
particular illocutionary force has on one’addressee, and aggravating or
mitigating this force by applying a suitable degree of modification”.
One of these degrees of modification is Politeness. Every time a
spaeker ferforms a request, he/she is acquainted with the fact that
conversations follow particular conventions and organizational principles.
Strategies to perform requests vary according to context and along factors
such ass social power, role and status. And everey speaker has the necessity
to be appreciated by others and to feel that nobody is interfering with him
(Renkema, 1999: 27).
Fraser (1990) summarised that there have been 4 major approaches to
politeness:
(i)

In the pre-pragmatic studies, many scholars had mentioned
politeness and considered it as a social norm.

(ii)

Lakoff (1973, 1989) and Leech (1983) approach politeness and
perpecstive of conversational maxims, connecting their study with
Grice’s conversational maxims.

(iii)

Brown and Levinson (1987) study politeness as straregies
employed by the speakers to obtain or to save “face”. Fraser
(1990) sees politeness from the aspect of conveersational contract.

Of all those views, the conversational maxims view of Leech &
Lakoff and the face – management view of Brown and Levinson (1987) are
most appreciated and popularly discussed.
2.2.2.2 Politeness principles
15


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