Politeness in the English Language

Topics: Politeness theory, English language, Etiquette Pages: 3 (1666 words) Published: April 20, 2015
How does the English language enable us to express ‘politeness’? The definition of politeness is ‘Having or showing behavior that is respectful and considerate of other people’(Oxford Dictionary) it is a social construct that has formulated by humans to communicate in society. They are usually taught in the home and in society through our norms and values of socialisation .Linguistically, politeness is a form of pragmatic, ‘the study of how interlocutors use their own knowledge of a language to convey and interpret meaning’ (Bloomer, Griffiths and Merrison: 468), this enforces that politeness is a form of language that previous knowledge and external influences that can affect our interpretation of what was spoken to the listener. There are many factions of politeness however, the main focus is the social interactions that may or may not be considered polite. Sociolinguistics such as Penelope Brown and Stephenson C. Levinson are the most creditable figures in studying politeness, ‘Politeness: some universals in language usage’ what this particular text introduces is that politeness is versatile and differs from culture, to culture. The study of politeness enables the understanding of the relationship between speaker and listener. Study’s such as J Holmes’ ‘Women. Men and Politeness’ also represent how politeness differs between genders and what is expected from women and men in society. Academic texts such as ‘introducing language in use’ and ‘politeness in language’ discuss the variations of politeness and how politeness operates, such as what is conceived polite and impolite.

What may or may not be considered polite differs on the individual as Bloomer, Griffiths and Merriosn state ‘’it depends! More specifically, it would depend on who you are asking’ (Bloomer, Griffiths and Merrison: 109). Based on relationships and individual interpretation of politeness, what one may consider extremely rude one may think nothing of it, due to the listener’s...

References: Bloomer, A, Griffiths; P and Merrison A.J. (2005) Introducing Language in Use: A Coursebook , 1st edn., 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abington, Oxon OX14 4RN : Routlegde
Watts R.,Ide S.,Ehich K. (1992) Politeness in Language , 2nd edn., Berlin : Mouton de Gruyter.
Holmes J (1995) Women, Men and Politeness , Edinburgh Gate, Harlow, Essex,CM20 2JE: Longman .
Brown P.and Levinson S.C. (1978,1987) Politeness, Some Universals in Language Usage, The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1RP: Cambridge University Press.
localherowildtheme. (1994). Pulp Fiction - Oh, I 'm sorry, did I break your concentration?. [Online Video]. Sep 16, 2012. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clb6bFlgTuk. [Accessed: 12 November 2014].
Austen, J, 1980. Pride and Prejudice . 1st ed. London: The Zodiac Press .
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