University of Babylon College of Education for Human Sciences/ Department of English Postgraduate Studies/ PhD Programme

Social Factors
Influencing Politeness in English and Arabic

A Proposal for a PhD Dissertation Submitted to the Seminar Committee in the Department

by Ahmed Sahib Jabir

March, 2013

Can you answer the phone? 5. power. it seems that there are still 1 . 3. 2. Examples (3) and (4) are more suitable with friends and you will use (1) if you are addressing you son or daughter.1. Blum-Kulka’s (1992) for the Israeli. The problem It is a widely acknowledged fact that politeness is the key factor of smooth interaction in daily communication. sex. you will choose (5) or (6) if the one you are talking to is older than you and from the opposite sex. etc. expressing the due amount of politeness in any situation depends on the speaker’s appreciation of the social factors in that situation. The social factors in different societies have been elaborately studied (see. Failure to observe it often results in communication breakdown since interlocutors would like to have their freedom of action unimpeded and their self-esteem maintained. Mostly. Additionally. Will you answer the phone? 4. Could you possibly answer the phone? (Leech. you will use one the following expressions: 1. Ide’s (1989) for the Japanese. As for the Modern Standard Arabic. Answer the phone. and Zeyrek’s (2001) for the Turkish). For example. such as age. etc. 1983: 108) The choice of one expression rather than another will entirely depend on the social factors involved. I want you to answer the phone. Brown and Levinson’s (1978) study for the English society. Would you mind answering the phone? 6. for instance. Gu’s (1990) for the Chinese. if you want someone to answer the phone.

2 . Identifying the influential social factors that affect the realisation of politeness in the Modern Standard Arabic dialect. 2. the study will try to find answers to the following questions: 1. 3. More specifically. What are the differences in the way the social factors affect the realisation of politeness in Modern Standard Arabic and Standard English? 4. Aims of the study The study sets itself the task of fulfilling the following aims: 1. What are the influential social factors that affect the realisation of politeness in Modern Standard Arabic? 2. How do these factors influence Iraqi EFL university students’ realisation of politeness in English? 3. Investigating the extent to which these factors influence Iraqi EFL university students’ realisation of politeness in English.a few attempts to give a sort of description of the social factors affecting the realisation of politeness in Modern Standard Arabic. It is for this reason that this study will seek to fill part of this gap in the literature by attempting to give a description of the social factors influencing the realisation of politeness in Modern Standard Arabic. How far do the Iraqi EFL university students appreciate the influence of the English social factors on the realisation of politeness in English? 2. Specifying the differences in the way the social factors affect the realisation of politeness in Modern Standard Arabic and English.

and gender. The influential social factors that influence the realisation of politeness in Iraqi Arabic are age. Hypotheses In the light of the aims mentioned above. 2. 4. 3.4. Exploring the extent to which Iraqi EFL university students appreciate the English social factors in the realisation of politeness in English. Limits of the Study The empirical work will include the following groups: a) Group (1) will comprise the Arabic native speakers represented by students and faculty members chosen from the Department of Arabic/ College of Education for Human Sciences/ University of Babylon. b) Group (2) will comprise EFL students and faculty members who have not spent a significant period of time in an English speaking community chosen from the Department of Arabic/ College of Education for Human Sciences/ University of Babylon. The main difference in the way the social factors affect the realisation of politeness in Modern Standard Arabic and English lies in the influence they assign to each social factor. The social factors have an influence on Iraqi EFL university students’ realisation of politeness in English. it is hypothesized that: 1. c) Group (3) will comprise native speakers of English. 3. Iraqi EFL university students will not adequately appreciate the English social factors in the realisation of politeness in English. 3 . 4. power.

d. 2. b.4). c. After analyzing the data of the three groups: a. Presenting a theoretical background consisting of: a) A general survey of the social factors that affect the realisation of politeness in general.2). Procedures In order to achieve the aims of the study. The results of Group (2) and Group (3) will be compared to find out how Iraqi EFL university students and faculty members appreciate the English social factors in the realisation of politeness in English (Aim No.5. The results of Group (1) and Group (2) will be compared to find out the effects of the social factors on Iraqi EFL university students’ and faculty members’ realisation of politeness in English (Aim No. 3. the following procedures will be adopted: 1. b) A description of the social features of the Arabic society. b. Conducting an empirical work via two discourse completion tasks: a. The first is written in Modern Standard Arabic to be applied to Group (1). The second is written in English to be applied to Group (2) and Group (3). 4 . The results of Group (1) and Group (3) will be contrasted to find out the differences in realisation of politeness in Modern Standard Arabic and English (Aim No.3).1). The social factors that affect the realisation of politeness in Modern Standard Arabic will be specified and described to identify the influential ones (Aim No.

Leech. S. syllabus designers and students.. Theory and Practice. pp. Amsterdam: Benjamins Publishers. Ide. and Ehlich. in Watts. or minding your p’s and q’s’. P. Chicago Linguistics Society 8: 292--305. London: Longman. (1973) ‘The logic of politeness. pp. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.6. sociolinguistic and EFL studies. R. 56--289. 255--80. R. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Principles of Pragmatics. (ed. Zeyrek. and Levinson. Value of the study It is hoped that this study will be of both theoretical and practical value for all those interested in social. (eds. G. ‘Universals in language usage: politeness phenomena’. 1978. In addition. (1989) ‘Formal forms and discernment: two neglected aspects of linguistic politeness’. S. Gu. D (2001) “Politeness in Turkish and its linguistic manifestations: A socio-cultural perspective” in Arin Bayraktarolu and Maria Sifianou (eds) Linguistic Politeness across Boundaries The Case of Greek and Turkish. E.). Lakoff. J. anthropological linguistics. S.). in Goody. Y. References Blum-Kulka. (1992) The metapragmatics of politeness in Israeli society. Questions and Politeness. Ide. (1990) ‘Politeness phenomena in modern Chinese’. 5 . K. it might be of interest to scholars of related fields of study such as pragmatics. Multilingua 8(2/3): 223--48. Journal of Pragmatics 14(2): 237--57. S. Politeness in Language: Studies in its History. discourse analysis. Brown. 1983. Not to mention its benefit to textbooks writers.

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