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Politeness Phenomena in England and Greece: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

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Politeness is crucial to successful communication and is consequently of great interest to those who study language in its social context. This book presents the first application of Brown and Levinson's ground-breaking theoretical work in a full-length comparative case study. Maria Sifianou draws her data from a variety of sources, including literature (particularly drama), questionnaires, and personal observation. She attempts to discover the principles underlying social interaction in both intracultural and ...
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Overview


Politeness is crucial to successful communication and is consequently of great interest to those who study language in its social context. This book presents the first application of Brown and Levinson's ground-breaking theoretical work in a full-length comparative case study. Maria Sifianou draws her data from a variety of sources, including literature (particularly drama), questionnaires, and personal observation. She attempts to discover the principles underlying social interaction in both intracultural and intercultural contexts, and discusses the extent to which the concept of politeness is common to different cultures. She argues that politeness is conceptualized differently and thus manifested differently in the two societies under study: Greeks tend to use more "positive" politeness devices than the English, who prefer more "negative" devices. Positive politeness is more closely related to friendliness, negative politeness to formality. Sifianou's analysis illustrates and supports the general claim that, despite popular stereotypes, there can be no objective verification for the view that one nation is more polite than another.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"With acuity and verve, [Sifianou] adds an important new chapter to the already substantial linguistic literature on Modern Greece....Offers real insight into the relationship between social values and linguistic practice....Sifianou's interpretations are persuasive and consistent.....All social anthropologists planning field research in Greece should read and assimilate this book....[A] fine-grained, confident analysis..."--Anthropological Linguistics

"As a whole, this work should be considered an interesting contribution to politeness theory and its applications to specific languages."--Language in Society

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198239727
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.63 (w) x 8.75 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Table of Contents

Note on Abbreviations and Symbols
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Content and Organization 1
1.2 Data for the Study of Politeness 3
1.2.1 Introduction 3
1.2.2 Drama 5
1.2.3 Questionnaires 9
2 Politeness: Setting the Scene 12
2.1 Introduction 12
2.2 The Co-operative Principle and the Maxims of Conversation 14
2.3 The Rules of Politeness 20
2.4 The Maxims of Politeness 26
2.5 A Model for Strategic Interaction 31
2.5.1 Greek culture and the notion of face 40
3 Politeness: Cross-Cultural Perspectives 44
3.1 The Question of Universality in Language 44
3.2 Universality of Politeness 45
3.3 Politeness across Cultures 49
3.4 Social Deixis 56
3.5 Forms of Address 63
4 Perceptions of Politeness 74
4.1 Non-verbal Communication and Politeness 74
4.2 Acquisition of Polite Expression 78
4.3 Formality and Politeness 80
4.4 Urbanity and Politeness 81
4.5 An Attempt at a Definition of Politeness 82
4.5.1 Native speakers' concepts of politeness 86
4.6 Concluding Remarks 93
5 Speech Act Theory and Politeness: Request 95
5.1 Introduction 95
5.2 The Speech Act of Requesting 98
5.2.1 Prominence devices 102
5.2.2 The politeness of indirect requests 110
5.3 The Notion of Request 121
6 Requests: Form and Function 125
6.1 Imperatives 125
6.2 Interrogatives 137
6.2.1 Modals 144
6.3 Negatives 146
6.4 Declaratives 149
6.5 Elliptical Constructions 152
7 Requests: Modification 157
7.1 Introduction 157
7.2 Internal Modification 158
7.2.1 Openers 158
7.2.2 Hedges 164
7.2.3 Fillers 179
7.3 External Modification 182
7.3.1 Commitment-seeking devices 183
7.3.2 Reinforcing devices 184
7.4 Concluding Remarks 197
8 Conclusions 200
8.1 Further Supportive Evidence 200
8.2 Implications for Language Learning and Teaching 202
8.3 Implications for Future Research 209
8.4 Final Concluding Remarks 214
Appendix I: Plays Used as Data 220
Appendix II: Questionnaires 225
References 231
Index 247
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