One of the major theories surrounding politeness is that of Brown and Levinson (1978, later revised in 1987). Brown and Levinson’s theory argues that politeness consists of three basic elements of human interaction: the maintenance of personal face, the acts which may threaten the face of either a speaker or hearer and the politeness strategies used within the context of conversation to maintain face. The concept of ‘face’, according to Brown and Levinson, outlines the human desire of avoiding embarrassment or humiliation whilst maintaining a positive representation of themselves. In accordance with the politeness phenomena theory, face exists in both a positive sense and a negative sense. Positive face is defined simply as ‘self-image’ while negative face refers to the freedom from imposition.
The face-threatening act, according to Brown and Levinson, exists in four main categories. Firstly, the act which threatens the hearer’s negative face can include orders, advice, etc. and can ultimately undermine the hearer’s freedom of... [continues]
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