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A study of politeness strategies in the conversational activities of the coursebook “new headway” intermediate as seen by teachers of university of economic technical industries

VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES
************************

LƯU THI ̣PHƯƠNG THUÝ

A STUDY OF POLITENESS STRATEGIES IN THE
CONVERSATIONAL ACTIVITIES OF THE COURSEBOOK
“NEW HEADWAY” -INTERMEDIATE AS SEEN BY TEACHERS OF
UNIVERSITY OF ECONOMIC-TECHNICAL INDUSTRIES
Nghiên cứu các chiến lược lịch sự được sử dụng trong các bài hội thoại của
giáo trình giao tiếp NEW HEADWAY trình độ intermediate dưới cái nhìn của
giáo viên trường Đại học Kinh tế -Kỹ thuật Công nghiệp

M.A. MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS

Field : English Linguistics
Code : 60220201

HANOI – 2016



VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES
************************

LƯU THI ̣PHƯƠNG THUÝ

A STUDY OF POLITENESS STRATEGIES IN THE
CONVERSATIONAL ACTIVITIES OF THE COURSEBOOK
“NEW HEADWAY” -INTERMEDIATE AS SEEN BY TEACHERS OF
UNIVERSITY OF ECONOMIC-TECHNICAL INDUSTRIES
Nghiên cứu các chiến lược lịch sự được sử dụng trong các bài hội thoại của
giáo trình giao tiếp NEW HEADWAY trình độ intermediate dưới cái nhìn của
giáo viên trường Đại học Kinh tế -Kỹ thuật Công nghiệp

M.A. MINOR PROGRAMME THESIS

Field: English Linguistics
Code : 60220201
Supervisor : Prof. Nguyễn Quang

HANOI - 2016


DECLARATION

I hereby certify that this thesis is my own work. I confirm that this work is for
the requirement of the M.A, and this thesis has not been submitted for elsewhere in
any other form for the fulfilment of any other degree or tertiary institution.

Hanoi, November 2016

Luu Thi Phuong Thuy

i


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS



At the completion of this thesis, I would like to show my sincerest gratitude
and appreciation to a number of people for their encouragement and support.
To begin with, I would like to express my greatest and deepest thankfulness
to Prof. Nguyen Quang, my supervisor, for his valuable guidance, and advice during
the procedure of my thesis. Without his supervision, this M.A thesis could not have
been accomplished
In addition, I would like to give my thanks to Mrs. Le Ngoc Hanh, dean of
English Faculty as well as all UNETI teachers who participated in my study, for
their wholehearted facilitation. Without their ideas, their support and their
contribution, I cannot complete my thesis.
Last but not least, I wish to send my special thanks to my family particularly
my mother, my father and my husband for their help on the completion of this
thesis. They have always supplied the best conditions form me to fulfil the thesis.

ii


ABSTRACT
This paper is carried out at endeavour of exploring UNETI teachers‟
perception in the linguistics politeness strategies under the influence of role
relationships in the conversational activities in New Headway. On the basis of
quantitative method, survey questionnaire with multiple choice questions and
discourse completion task are employed to collect data from fifteen UNETI teachers
of English. The research shows that the frequencies of politeness strategy
occurrence in conversational activities of the material are not always the same. The
result reveals that positive politeness strategies are preferred more than negative
politeness strategies in almost all kinds of conversational activities. Moreover, the
role relationships relating to relative power, social distance and ranking of
impositions make considerable impact on the choice of politeness strategies. The
study reveals that all the UNETI consume politeness in both utterances in NHW and
the significant role relationships in the selection of the types of politeness strategies.
In addition, they classified them into positive and negative politeness strategies.

iii


ABBREVIATIONS

NHW

:

New Headway (Intermediate- The Third Edition)

E.g.

:

For example

FTA

:

Face Threatening Act

H

:

The hearer

S

:

The speaker

NPS

:

Negative politeness strategies

PPS

:

Positive politeness strategies

P

:

Relative Power

D

:

Social Distance

R

:

Rate of imposition

UNETI :

University of Economic and Technical Industries

iv


LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES

Figure 1: Possible Strategies for Doing FTAs (Brown /Levinson, 1987: 60)
Figure 2: Frequency of negative and positive politeness strategies found in the
conversations.
Figure 3: Frequency of positive politeness strategies used in the conversations.
Figure 4: Frequency of negative politeness strategies used in the conversations.
Table 1: The statistics of the appearance of positive and negative politeness
strategies based on the roles of participants
Table 2: The statistics of the choice of the appearance of positive or negative
politeness strategies based on the roles relationships under UNETI teachers‟
perception

v


TABLE OF CONTENTS

DECLARATION ........................................................................................................ i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ....................................................................................... ii
ABSTRACT .............................................................................................................. iii
ABBREVIATIONS................................................................................................... iv
LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES ........................................................................ vii
PART A: INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................1
1. Rationale ...............................................................................................................1
2. Aims of the study .................................................................................................1
3. Scope of the study ...................................................................................................2
4. Significance of the study ......................................................................................2
5. Research methodology ............................................................................................2
5.1. Research questions ...............................................................................................2
5.2. Research method ..................................................................................................3
5.2.1. Instrument .........................................................................................................3
5.2.2. Data analysis .....................................................................................................3
6. Design of the study..................................................................................................4
PART B: DEVELOPMENT.....................................................................................6
Chapter I: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND .....................................................6
1.Theory of Speech Acts .............................................................................................6
2.Theory of politeness and politeness strategies .........................................................7
2.1.Theory of politeness ..............................................................................................7
2.2.Politeness strategies ..............................................................................................9
2.2.1.Positive politeness ............................................................................................10
2.2.2.Negative politeness...........................................................................................14
3.Role relationships affecting politeness strategies ..................................................16
CHAPTER II: METHODOLOGY ........................................................................19
1. Research questions ................................................................................................19
vi


2. Instruments ............................................................................................................19
2.1.Multiple choice questionnaires ...........................................................................19
2.2. Discourse completion task .................................................................................20
3. Participants ............................................................................................................20
4. Data collection procedure .....................................................................................20
4.1. Politeness strategies under the inference of role relationships in NHW ............20
4.2. Politeness strategies under the inference of role relationships in NHW as seen
by UNETI teachers of English ..................................................................................21
5. Data analysis method ............................................................................................21
CHAPTER III: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION ................................................22
1. Positive and negative politeness in conversational activities in the course book
“NEW HEADWAY, INTERMEDIATE” .................................................................22
1.1. Overview of politeness strategies in “New Headway” intermediate (NHW) ....22
1.2.Frequency of occurrence of positive and negative politeness strategies in
conversational activities in the course book “New Headway, Intermediate”. ..........23
1.2.2.Negative Politeness strategies in conversational activities .............................29
2.Politeness Strategies in terms of role- relationship ................................................33
3.Politeness in terms of role - relationship in NHW as seen by UNETI teachers of
English .......................................................................................................................36
PART C: CONCLUSION.......................................................................................38
1. Summary of main findings ....................................................................................38
2. Limitation ..............................................................................................................39
3. Suggestions for further study ................................................................................39
REFERENCES ........................................................................................................40
APPENDIXES ........................................................................................................... I

vii


PART A: INTRODUCTION

1. Rationale
Language has always been an indispensable part not only in communication
among people who share or do not share the same nationality, social or ethnic
background but also in recording and understanding culture. Among languages all
over the world, English is considered the most powerful language. The number of
people learning English has sharply increased and a variety of learning and teaching
materials are available to meet their learning demands.
In Vietnam, English has developed with an unprecedented speed and become a
compulsory subject in schools, colleges and universities. Although a lot of
Vietnamese learners of English master grammar rules and accumulate as much
vocabulary as possible, they often experience communication breakdown when
participating in a real daily conversations. In order to communicate successfully
across cultures, learners need to be provided with cultural knowledge and the
relationship between language and culture. Additionally, learners must be aware of
the hidden parts of culture including politeness strategies in daily social interaction.
In communication, people use the politeness strategies to save hearers‟ face and
avoid making other people feel uncomfortable.
This research paper entitled “A study of politeness strategies and role
relationships in the conversational activities of the course book “New Headway”
(intermediate) as seen by teachers of English at University of Economic-Technical
Industries” is motivated by the above reasons. Hopefully, the research would supply
teachers with an insight into the politeness strategies under the influential role
relationships in the conversational activities of the course book “New Headway”
(intermediate).
2. Aims of the study
The study is carried out to achieve the following objectives:
- To identify and classify positive and negative politeness employed in the
1


conversations of the course book “New Headway” (intermediate).
- To investigate how positive and negative politeness strategies are realized
with reference to role relationships in the conversations.
- To find out how UNETI teachers identify politeness under the influence of
role relationships in conversations in NHW.
3. Scope of the study
The study focuses on analyzing politeness strategies used under the inference
of role relationships in the conversational activities of the course book “New
Headway” (intermediate) as seen by teachers of English at University of EconomicTechnical Industries
4. Significance of the study
The study deals with giving a theoretical background on politeness strategies
in verbal communication. As stated in the study, politeness strategies play an
integral role in daily communication. Hence, the study is carried out to show the
readers how the politeness strategies utilized in cross-cultural communication to
avoid cultural conflicts.
In addition, this study is expected to make contributions to raising the
awareness of the importance of politeness strategies in real life situations for
learners. Practically, the study also supplies the readers with the analysis of the
politeness strategies in conversations of the course book “New Headway”
(intermediate) as seen by teachers of English at University of Economic-Technical
Industries.
5. Research methodology
5.1. Research questions
The thesis aims to address the following research questions:
- What are positive and negative politeness strategies used in the
conversational activities in NHW?
-

How do role relationships influence the use of positive and negative

politeness strategies in the conversations of the course book “New Headway”
2


(intermediate)?
- How do UNETI teachers realize positive and negative politeness strategies
under the influence of role relationships?
5.2. Research method
This paper applies qualitative method and quantitative method because
these methods are supposed to describe the way politeness strategies are used,
provides the answers to the questions of what types of something happened and
seeks to how teachers realize politeness under the influence of role relationships in
the course book. All the considerations, remarks, interpretations, comments and
assumptions given in this study will be based largely on the analysis of statistic data.
Furthermore, survey research is the method of gathering data from respondents. In a
survey, the researcher selects a population. Since population can be quite large, the
author directly questions only a number of samples of the population. That is why
survey research is a suitable choice for a cross-cultural study. All the considerable
comments are based on the author‟s description and analysis of the data and
questionnaires.
5.2.1.

Instrument

The instrument used in this thesis is questionnaires which consists of 8 real-life
situations, which are aimed at eliciting positive and negative strategies that are
recognized in the conversational activities of the course book “New Headway” (the
third edition) (intermediate). In these situations, various variables are reflected such
as role relationships and positive/negative strategies.
5.2.2.

Data analysis

 Types of data
Data used in this thesis are collected from the course book “New Headway” (the
third edition) (intermediate). The book was designed to develop the communicative
ability in daily interaction for learners. The thesis is only to focus on one course
book. All units in these textbooks are divided into four teaching sections such as:
reading, listening, speaking and writing. Furthermore, in order to answer the third
3


research question, the researcher employs questionnaire.
 Data collection
The data of the study are all utterances in conversations in every unit in the
textbook, mainly in listening sections. In order to collect the data, the author
observed all conversational activities in the course book “New Headway”
(intermediate) to find out all utterances including politeness strategies. Additionally,
the author gives and collects questionnaires for UNETI teachers.
 Data analysis
Step 1: All the data in this thesis are intended to be analyzed according the
following steps:
- The researcher would study the course book carefully. All utterances
appearing in the units would be picked up.
- The researcher would find out and discuss with colleagues and supervisor
to identify which utterances consist of politeness strategies.
- The researcher would classify the politeness strategies in these utterances.
- The researcher would consult with supervisor and colleagues.
- The researcher would interpret the data.
Step 2:
- The researcher would deliver and gather questionnaires
- The researcher would analyze questionnaires.
5. Design of the study
The study consists of three main parts: introduction, development and
conclusion.
Part A: Introduction
This part includes rationale, aims, scope, significance of the study, and design
of the study, which would make readers have an overall view of what is going to be
presented in the thesis.
Part B: Development
This part is divided into three chapters:
4


Chapter 1: Theoretical background
This chapter deals with key terms related to the paper such as language and
culture, speech act and politeness strategies.
Chapter 2: Methodology
This chapter includes the methods which are exploited in the study. The
readers would be provided with detail of type of data, data collection, data analysis
participants, research method and procedure
Chapter 3: Findings and discussion
In this chapter, the writer would give analysis of positive and negative
politeness strategies and role relationships found in the conversational activities in
one course book “New Headway” (intermediate) as seen by teachers of English at
University of Economic-Technical Industries.
Part C: Conclusion
This part presents a summary of the study as well as further research in the
future.

5


PART B: DEVELOPMENT
Chapter I: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
1. Theory of Speech Acts
One of the significant notions which have impressed a great number of
linguists and scientists in the study of interlanguage pragmatics is the application of
speech acts. Throughout its developments, speech acts has been central to the works
of several philosophers and linguists, such as Austin (1962), Searle (1969), Thomas
(1995), and so on. According to Austin (1962), producing utterances is a part of,
performing actions: in saying something, the speaker does something. Beside Yule,
in a pronouncement raised in his very influential book, Pragmatics in 1996, declares
that “Actions performed via utterances are generally called speech acts.” (p. 67).
In the initial distinction in speech acts made by Austin (1962, p. 94-108), he
introduces three facets among the acts one simultaneously performs when saying
something, as illustrated as following:
(1) The locutionary act refers to an utterance simply constructed by a
grammatical structure and a linguistic meaning. A locutionary act consists of three
related sub-acts: (i) a phonic act of producing an utterance in the phonic medium of
sound; (ii) a phatic act of constructing a particular linguistic expression in a
particular language; and (iii) a rhetic act of contextualizing a sentence.
(2) The illocutionary act mentions to the real action accomplished in speaking.
Example of illocutionary acts include giving permission, making suggestion,
swearing and so on.
(3) The perlocutionary act concerns the effect of the utterance upon the
feelings, thoughts, or actions of listener.
Let us consider the following utterance: “Don‟t talk”. The speaker do not
merely say the words “don't” and “talk”, which subsume the locutionary act, but you
also perform the act of asking listeners not to talk.
It is noteworthy that in Austin‟s points, illocutionary act is considered as the
most important of the three acts because it is really what the speaker wants to
achieve through the action of uttering the sentences.

There have been many

attempts to systematize, strengthen, and develop Austin‟s theory. Of all these
6


investigations, Searl‟s scheme remains the most influential. Searle (1976) states that
all illocutionary acts are universally grouped into five types:
 Representatives are those kinds of speech acts which tell people how
things are. The speaker represents the world as he or she believes it is, which make
the world fit the world of belief. (e.g. complaints, accusations)
 Directives are those kinds of speech act that express attempts by the
speaker to get the hearer to do something (e.g. orders, advice, commands, etc.)
 Comissives are those kinds of speech acts that commit the speaker
himself to do things (e.g. promises, refusals, threats, etc.)
 Expressive are those kinds of speech acts express speakers‟ feelings
and attitudes (e.g. thanking, congratulating, apologizing, etc.)
 Declarations or declaratives are those kinds of speech acts that bring
about changes in the institutional state of affairs (e.g. pronouncing someone guilty
or pronouncing someone husband and wife).
2. Theory of politeness and politeness strategies
2.1. Theory of politeness
Besides theory of speech acts, politeness is considered as one important
aspect of pragmatic competence as well as the most fundamental backgrounds of
this paper.

It is said that politeness is principal ingredient for success in

interpersonal communication. In spite of the fact that politeness is popular in all
cultures, it is expressed differently in different cultures. In everyday life, politeness
is perceived as the use of relatively formal and deferential behaviour. In language
study, Watt (2003, p.39) contends that “politeness is the ability to please others
through one‟s external actions”. According to Thomas (1995, p.157), politeness is
defined as a strategy (or series of strategies) is used by speaker in order to attain
plenty of purposes, such as maintaining friendly, peaceful relations.
Regarding this important social role of politeness, a number of studies have
also attempted to investigate this area in divergent paths. Pragmatic approaches to
the study of politeness began from Robin Layoff‟s work (1973) to Grice‟s
Cooperative Principle (1975), Leech‟s principle of politeness (1983) and the recent
approach from Brown & Levison (1987). During the
7

vast

development

of


linguistics, a multitude of different approaches to politeness have been proposed in
the past thirty five years, and Nguyen Quang (2005, p. 10) confirms that there are
three main important approaches to politeness :
-

Setting the ideal standard for polite acts to refer such as Grice

-

Proposing the principles of politeness in communication in the form of
do‟s and don‟ts like Layoff, Leech

-

Specifying the necessary strategies to encounter Face Threatening Acts
(FTAs) in communication as in Brown and Levinson, 1987

However, amongst outstanding linguists, most of the researches on politeness
might be related to the theory suggested by Brown & Levison (1987). In spite of the
fact that different aspects of this theory have been criticized by many researchers, it
has been the preferred model focusing on the notion of politeness. Consequently, the
theory adopted in the present study is the model of politeness strategy offered by
Brown and Levinson (1987).
Brown and Levinson‟s politeness model is founded on the notions of “face” - a
term adopted from the work of Goffman. Goffman (1967, p.5) states that „„positive
social value a person effectively claims for himself by his or her self-presentation‟‟.
Face mentions to the respect that an individual has for himself or herself, and
maintaining that "self-esteem" in public or in private circumstances. Furthermore,
Yule (1996, p.60) claimed that “the means employed to show awareness of another
person‟s face”. Respecting the main points of Yule and Goffman, Brown and
Levinson (1987, p.61) propose for people‟s face including two basic types of face
needs or wants: positive face and negative face.
 Positive face: the positive consistent self-image or personality
(crucially including the desire that this self-image be appreciated and approved of)
 Negative face: the basic claim to territories, personal preserves,
rights to non-distraction, i.e. to freedom of action and freedom from imposition.
In other words, positive face is the need to be connected and negative face
is the need to be independent. In some circumstances, the speaker says something
that threats another individual‟s expectations of self-image (their “face”), though
both speaker and hearer in conversation are made more aware of the preservation of
8


their partner‟s face. Positive face is threatened when an individual does not concern
about their interlocutor‟s feelings, wants, or does not want what the other wants. It is
suggested that positive face is face needs, or the need to be accepted, liked, and
admired, and to maintain a positive self-image. Negative face is threatened when the
speaker or hearer does not avoid or intend to avoid the blockage of their interactor‟s
freedom of action. Hence, negative face is face needs or the need not to be imposed
upon. In their theory, Brown and Levinson (1987) provide the definition of a face
threatening act (henceforth FTA). When confronted with the need to perform an
FTA, the speaker needs to decide how it should be uttered. According to Brown
&Levinson (1987, p.65), it is admitted that:
An FTA is any verbal act a speaker (S) addresses to any hearer (H)
with a specific intention which S intends H to recognize, this recognition being the
communicative point of S‟s doing the communicative act. Any utterance is always
to some extent an imposition on H and S; any utterance is intrinsically facethreatening. Some FTAs are more threatening than others.
In general, during interaction, face can be lost, maintained or enhanced, and
must be constantly attended, with the result that S and H cooperate in maintaining
face in interaction, such cooperation being based on the mutual vulnerability of face.
2.2. Politeness strategies
Along with the model revolves around the notion of face, politeness strategies
have been expressed by a variety of linguists such as Politeness Principles- Maxims
of Leech (1983) and Politeness Strategies of Brown & Levinson (1987).
Nevertheless, the author would like to represent Brown and Levinson theory since it
is one of the most prevalent theories and adopted by this research.
According to Brown & Levinson‟s Politeness Strategies, the concept of
“face” plays an important role. A set of five strategies to minimize risk of losing
face is suggested by these two authors. The choice of strategies will be made on the
basic of the speaker‟s assessment of the size of the face threatening acts (FTAs).
These strategies are illustrated in the following figure:

9


1. Without redressive action, baldly

Lesser risk
On record

2. Positive
Politeness

Do the FTA

With redressive action
3. Negative
Politeness

4.Off-record
5. Don‟t do the FTA

Greater risk
Figure 1: Possible Strategies for Doing FTAs
(Brown /Levinson, 1987: 60)
There is no doubt that politeness strategies are really important in
communication. When speaker employs politeness strategies, especially positive and
negative politeness strategies appropriately, he/she may get success in intercultural
and cross-cultural communication. Therefore, positive and negative politeness
strategies are highlighted in this section, in particular and in the whole research.
2.2.1. Positive politeness
Brown and Levinson (1987, p.70) state that “positive politeness is oriented
toward the positive face of H, the positive self-image that he claims for himself”.
Nguyen Quang (2005, p.27) also considers the concept of positive politeness, as
“any communicative act (verbal and/ or nonverbal) which is appropriately intended
to show the speaker‟s concern to the addressee, thus, enhancing the sense of
solidarity between them”. This can be achieved by adopting by positive politeness
strategies. Therefore, Brown and Levinson (1987, p.102) sketch 15 positive
politeness strategies applied by speakers in communication as follows:
Strategy 1: Notice, attend to hearer’s interest, wants, needs, and goods.
This generally means that speaker should pay attention to hearer‟s noticeable
change remarkable possessions, and other things that hearer wants speaker to notice
and approved of.
10


E.g. You must be hungry, it‟s a long time since breakfast. How about some
lunch?
Strategy 2: Exaggerate interest, approval, sympathy with hearer.
This strategy often occurs with many aspects of prosodies, identifying
modifiers, and exaggerated intonation, stress, and usually occurs with such
adjectives as marvellous incredible, devastating, fantastic, extraordinary and with
such adverbs (plus adjectives) as really, absolutely, exactly truly.
E.g. What a fantastic garden you have!
Strategy 3: Intensify interest to hearer
Speaker wants hearer to share some interest with him/her. This strategy seems
to be a good way of communicating.
E.g. There were a million people in the Co-op tonight.
Strategy 4: Use in-group identity marker
Using address form which include the use of second person plural pronoun
(you), or such generic names and terms of address as, honey, darling, babe, mom,
dad, brother, sister, aunt, sweetheart, etc. These forms are used to soften the FTAs.
These can occur in the forms of questions, of requests, of imperatives.
E.g. Come here, mate (honey/buddy)
Strategy 5: Seek agreement
The raising of safe topic allows S to stress his/ her agreement with H; and
therefore to satisfy H‟s desire to be right or to be corroborated in his opinion. One of
the best ways to apply this strategy is “repetition”. Agreement may also be
stressed by repeating part or all of what the preceding speaker has said, in a
conversation. In addition to demonstrating that one has heard correctly what was
said, repeating is used to stress emotional agreement with the utterance (or to stress
interest and surprise).
Another way that helps speaker claim the common ground with hearer is to
seek the agreement between speaker and hearer.
E.g. A: John went to London this weekend
11


B: To London!
Strategy 6: Avoid Disagreement
There are different ways to avoid disagreement between speaker and hearer
while communicating, i.e., using token agreement, pseudo-agreement, white lies,
and hedging opinion.
E.g. A: Can you hear me?
B: Barely.
Strategy 7: Presuppose/ Raise/ Assert Common Ground
This strategy is realized through gossip, small talk, personal centre switch,
time switch, place switch, avoidance of adjustment of reports to hearer‟s point of
view, presupposition, manipulations, presupposition of knowledge of hearer‟s wants
and attitudes, presupposition of hearer‟s relationship, presupposition of hearer‟s
knowledge. A good illustration of this strategy is use of “You know…”.
E.g. I had a really hard time learning to drive, you know.
I had a really hard time learning to drive, didn‟t I?
Strategy 8: Jokes
“Jokes” seems to be a very effective strategy for communicating if it is used in
the right place, with the right people. Typically, this strategy occurs between people
who know each other well.
E.g. How about lending me this old heap of junk? (the hearer‟s new Cadillac)
Strategy 9: Assert or presuppose speaker’s knowledge of and concern for
hearer’s wants.
This strategy is the way to help speaker communicate with hearer by indicating
that speaker and hearer are co-operators and potentially force hearer to cooperate
with speaker. This commonly occurs with the use of “I know” from speaker.
This is also a very interesting strategy which makes hearer feel comfortable.
E.g. I know you can‟t bear parties, but this one will really be good-do come!
Strategy 10: Offers and promises
Speaker wants to show that he/she will help hearer obtain hearer‟s desire or
12


wants by giving offers and promises which are natural outcome of choosing this
strategy. Also speaker wants to show his/her good intentions towards hearer‟s
positive face wants.
E.g. I‟ll drop by sometime next week.
Strategy 11: Be optimistic
Speaker wants to show his/her good intentions of helping hearer obtain his/her
wants by asking hearer to cooperate with speaker in carrying out a tacit
commitment. This means that speaker not only wants to show his/ her intention but
also wants hearer and speaker himself/herself do an action to carry out this
commitment.
E.g. I‟ve come to borrow a cup of flour.
Strategy 12: Include both speaker and hearer in the activity
By using we, us, let‟s in the process of communication, speaker shows that
speaker and hearer are co-operators, and speaker wants hearer to cooperate with
him/her in doing something.
E.g. Let‟s have a cookie, then.
Strategy 13: Give (or ask for reasons)
In Britain, giving or asking for reason seems to be very common and polite.
This strategy often occurs with such phrases as why not, why don‟t, why shouldn‟t.
E.g. Why don‟t we go to the seashore?
Strategy 14: Assume or assert reciprocity
Giving evidence of reciprocal rights or obligations obtaining between speaker
and hearer may claim the existence of cooperation between speaker and hearer.
E.g. I did X for you last week so you do Y for me this week.
Strategy 15: Give gifts to hearer (goods, sympathy, understanding,
cooperation).
Gifts here are not only the material gifts but also are the spiritual gifts.
E.g. I‟ve just been out shopping. Here‟s hot dog for you. Like it?
Nguyen Quang (2003, p.78-85) adds two more strategies, namely:
13


Strategy 16: Comfort and encourage
E.g.: You have my whole-hearted support.
Strategy 17: Ask personal questions
E.g.: Are you married or single?
2.2.2.

Negative politeness

Yule (1996, p.66) indicates that negative politeness strategy is strongly
connected with “a deference strategy”. In his views, it might be the typical strategy
for the whole group on a particular occasion. On the other hand, this strategy is
concerned with what is called formal politeness. Negative politeness, according to
Brown & Levinson (1987, p. 129), is “redressive action addressed to the addressee‟s
negative face: his want to have his freedom of action unhindered and his attention
unimpeded”. Negative politeness strategies are oriented towards the hearer‟s
negative face and emphasize avoidance of imposition on the hearer. These strategies
presume that the speaker will be imposing on the listener and there is a higher
potential for awkwardness or embarrassment than in bald on record strategies and
positive politeness strategies. Sharing with Brown & Levinson on the definition of
negative politeness, Nguyen Quang (2003) emphasizes that “negative politeness is
any communicative act which is appropriately intended to show that the speaker
does not want to impinge on the addressee‟s privacy, thus maintaining the sense of
distance between them”. Nguyen Quang suggests eleven negative politeness
strategies, of which the initial ten ones are adopted originally by Brown & Levinson,
they are as follows:
Strategy 1 – Be conventionally indirect
Opposing tensions: desire to give H an “out” by being indirect, and the desire
to go on record and solved by the compromise of conventional indirectness, the use
of phrases and sentences that have contextually unambiguous meanings which are
different from their literal meaning
E.g.: Could you close the door, please?
Strategy 2 – Question, hedge
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Expressing the want not to presume or coerce H. In literature, a “hedge” is a
particle, word or phrase that modifies the degree of membership of a predicate or
noun phrase in a set. It says of that membership that it is partial or true only in
certain respects, or that it is more true and complete than perhaps might be expected.
E.g.: I wonder whether I could just sort of ask you a question.
Strategy 3 – Be pessimistic
Gives redress to H´s negative face by explicitly expressing doubt that the
conditions for the appropriateness of S´s speech act obtain.
E.g.: If you had a little time to spare for me this afternoon, I‟d like to talk about
my paper.
Strategy 4 – Minimize the imposition
Defusing the FTA by indicating that R (rank between S and H), the intrinsic
seriousness of the imposition, is not itself great. Leaving only D (social distance
between S and H) and P (relative power of H over S) as possible weighty factors, so
indirectly this may pay H deference.
E.g.: Could I talk to you for just a minute?
Strategy 5 – Give deference
Two different possibilities to realize the deference: S humbles and abases
himself; and S raises H (pays him positive face of a particular namely that which
satisfies H´s want to be treated superior.
E.g. Excuse me, sir, but would you mind if I closed the window?
Strategy 6 – Apologize
By apologizing for doing an FTA, the speaker can indicate his reluctance to
impinge on H´s negative face and partially redress the impingement
E.g.: I‟m sorry to bother you.
Strategy 7 – Impersonalize the S and H, avoid the pronouns I and you
Phrase the FTA as if the agent were other than S and the addressee were other
than H
E.g.: Turn that wretched music down.
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Strategy 8 – State the FTA as an instance of a general rule
To dissociate S and H from the particular imposition in the FTA (S doesn´t
want to impinge on H, but is merely forced to by circumstances), it can be
generalized as a social rule/regulation/obligation
E.g.: Parking on the double yellow lines is illegal.
Strategy 9 – Nominalize to distance the actor and add formality
The more the speaker normalizes an expression, the more he dissociates from
it
E.g.: Your good performance on the examinations impressed us favourably.
Strategy 10 – Go on record as incurring a debt, or as not indebting H
S can redress an FTA by explicitly claiming his indebtedness to H, or by
disclaiming any indebtedness of H
E.g. I could easily do it for you.
Strategy 11 – Avoid asking personal questions
Instead of using questions which can cause an FTA to the hearer like “Are you
married? How much money do you earn a week?”, communicators employ small
talks in the first meeting.
E.g. It is a nice day, isn‟t it?
3. Role relationships affecting politeness strategies
Regarding this important social role of politeness, researchers have tried to
investigate social variables affecting politeness. Based on studies done early in the
century, they concluded that role relationships are regarded as significant in
choosing politeness strategies. It is claimed that role relationships are associated
with three dimensions including relative power (P) of hearer over speaker, social
distance (D) between speaker and hearer, and ranking of impositions (R) involving
in doing the FTA. Brown and Levinson (1987, p.76-77) indicate that there are three
social variables (P, D & R) which make decision on the choice of the felicitous level
of politeness which a speaker (S) will use to an addressee (H). Lakoff (1977),
Grimshaw (1980), and Leech (1983) tend to have an agreement in this point with
Brown/Levinson (1987).
Besides Brown and Levinson (1987, p.15) consider the relative power
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