TOPIC 6

POLITENESS IN SOCIAL INTERACTION AND INDIRECT SPEECH ACTS
Arnis Silvia

she characterized negative face by the desire not to be imposed upon. Security : Hey! You are parking at the different lot. . Students’ parking is there. Positive face looks for solidarity. 3 Wardhaugh. noting that one would threaten positive face by ignoring someone. R. the need to act without giving offense (Wardhaugh3. and related to positively. What’s your name? Rika : My name is Miss Rika Rahman. I do apologize Miss. I am a new lecturer here Security : Oh. Positive face refers to the desire to gain the approval of others or ‘the positive consistent self-image or “personality” . In Goffman’s (1955. i. 277 1 . admired. 1967) term.’ Further. P & Levinson. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.POLITENESS VS INDIRECT SPEECH ACT A security officer is yelling at someone who he thought was parking at the wrong parking lot. . S. Being polite therefore consists of attempting to save face for another. (illustration made by writer) A. I thought you were a student. people need to present a ‘face’ to the others and to others’ faces. noting that negative face could be impinged upon by imposing on someone. Brown characterized positive face by desires to be liked. 61 2 Ibid. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Introduction to Sociolinguistics 5th edition. Later. 2006). however. 2006.e. 1987. Brown and Levinson1 (1987) coin face as ‘the public self-image that every member wants to claim for himself. negative face deals with the desire to be unimpeded by others in one’s actions.. they play out a kind of mini-drama. freedom of action and freedom from imposition’. Whereas. ratified. rights to non-distraction . . negative face. Positive Face refers to 1 Brown. they classify face into positive face and negative face. ‘Face’ and Politeness In social interaction. . claimed by interactants’2. personal preserves. They always want to protect both their own face and the faces of others because each time they interact with others. It’s lecturer’s parking lot. Politeness: Some universals in language usage. At the same time. p. ‘the basic claim to territories. p. is more problematic for it requires interactants to recognize each other’s negative face.C. one needs a recognition from the other parties. Please let me help you parking your car. a kind of ritual in which each party is required to recognize the identity that the other claims for himself or herself.

and so during any social interaction. Can I get you something to drink? Use solidarity in-group identity markers Ex: Heh. The two aspects of face are the basic wants in any social interaction.  Offer/ promise Ex: If you do the laundry. and informal language use: treating others as friends and allies. Positive politeness includes offering friendship. and never threaten their face. not imposing on them. 1987. Include both speaker and hearer in activity Ex: If we do this together.one's self-esteem. Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Positive Politeness     Attend to hearer’s interests. while negative face refers to one's freedom to act. indirectness. p. using compliments. 277 Brown. (Wardhaugh. I’ll cook the lunch. they must be aware of both kind of face and therefore they have two kinds of politeness namely: positive politeness and negative politeness4. can you lend me your CD? Be optimistic Ex: I’ll just drop by your house this afternoon. and formality in language use: adopting a variety of strategies so as to avoid any threats to the face others. Introduction to Sociolinguistics 5th edition. 2006) These are some examples of positive and negative politeness adapted from Brown and Levinson5’s work. \ Negative politeness deals with deference. R. S. P & Levinson. cooperation is needed amongst the participants to maintain each other's faces. if you don’t mind. apologizing. . bro.C. needs and wants Ex: You look thirsty. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. 2006. I do believe that we can achieve higher score than other students. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2 . 4 5 Wardhaugh. Everytime people are involved in social interaction.

or statements of general rules Ex: I hope my husband’s joke will not be taken seriously. but can you tell me what time it is?  Use plural pronouns Ex: We regret to inform you. Visitors sign the ledger. Ex: Cheating will not be tolerated. that’s a whopper! Negative Politeness   Be indirect Ex: Would you know where IR Juanda Street is? Use hedges or questions Ex: I think. but still eatable. Could you please pass the salt?      Be pessimistic Ex: You couldn’t manage to pick me up this afternoon. Prada?  Avoid Disagreement Ex: Yes. maybe. it’s rather salty. Apologize Ex: Excuse me for a second. 3 . he might have taken it. like nominalizations. could you? Minimize the imposition Ex: It’s not too much that I am going to borrow. Exaggerate interest in hearer and his interests Ex: That’s a nice bag you have. I do apologize to interupt your work. just a couple of pennies.  Joke Ex: Wow. passives. Use obviating structures.

p. 279 4 .’ Before one Javanese speaks to another. To illustrate this.B. Geertz6 (1960) says ‘it is nearly impossible to say anything without indicating the social relationships between the speaker and the listener in terms of status and familiarity. let’s say Javanese as the vivid example. 2006. C. politeness strategy might be seen as universal.248 Wardhaugh. Javanese vocabularies do. Glencoe: The Free Press. Politeness and Culture To some Western countries. stereotyped or similar. (taken from Wardhaugh7. However. R. Wardhaugh gives some examples of that graded vocabularies. middle. Introduction to Sociolinguistics 5th edition. In Javanese culture. 2006) Geertz also illustrates the sentence “are you going to eat the rice and cassave right now?” into different level of Javanese language. p. that doesn’t work for some culture. or low. The Religion of Java. he or she must decide on an appropriate speech style: high. Unlike common English words which has no certain level of politeness. 1960. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Are You going to eat dahar neda neda dahar neda mangan rice sekul sekul sekul sega sega sega and kaliyan lan lan lan lan lan cassava kaspé kaspé kaspé kaspé kaspé kaspé now ? samenika? samenika? sakniki? saiki? saiki? saiki? 3aMenapa pandjenengan bade 3 Menapa 2 Napa 1b Apa 1a Apa 1 Apa 6 7 pandjenengan bade pandjenengan adjeng pandjenengan arep sampeyan Kowe arep arep Geertz.

" A. say. "So. would you: A. if I use one of those pens?" C. Politeness and Indirect Speech Act Politeness strategies are used to formulate messages in order to save the hearer’s face when face-threatening acts (an act that inherently damages the face of the addressee or the speaker by acting in opposition to the wants and desires of the other) are inevitable or desired. the content of the conversation (in general. "Ooh. education. Brown and Levinson outline four main types of politeness strategies: bald on-record. positive politeness C. say. Indirectly say. negative politeness D. sex. occupation. and off-record (indirect). I just wanted to ask you if I could use one of those pens?" D. is it O.The use of politeness in the form of word/ sentence level is defined not only by qualitative characteristics of the speakers – age. for instance Japan. higher ones if speaking of religious or aesthetic matters). say. the social setting (one would be likely to use a higher level to the same individual at a wedding than in the street). wealth. family background – but also more general factors: for instance. C. "I'm sorry to bother you but. and you wanted to use one. these are some illustrations: You see a cup of pens on your teacher's desk. the history of social interaction between the speakers (one will tend to speak rather high. Chinese. with someone with whom one has quarreled). To make these four types of strategies clearer. As the sentence levelling happens to Javanese language. France. "Hmm. I want to use one of those!" B.K. one uses lower levels when speaking of commercial matters. I sure could use a blue pen right now. the presence of a third person (one tends to speak higher to the same individual if others are listening). negative politeness. kinship relation. and others. positive politeness. religious commitment. it does happen as well to other cultures. off-record / indirect 5 . if one speaks at all. bald on-record strategy B.

It uses indirect language and removes the speaker from the potential to be imposing. (1) Wow. If the listener wills to help the speaker. it would be a cooperative. 6 . or order and thus they use indirect speech acts. prohibition. off-record. the speakers’ face are saved as they are considered as a having credit in making a polite request which is not threatening the listeners’ face. However. In fact. either to do the act or simply apologizing for not being able to comply the request. If the listener answers “I’ll go close the window” then he is responding to this potentially threatening act by giving a “gift” to the speaker. it’s getting cold in here This sentence is insinuating that it would be nice if the listener would get up and turn up the thermostat without directly asking the listener to do so. The listeners’ face are saved as they have options. People are trying to be polite. speaker avoids the potential threat of ordering the listener and the listener gets credit for being generous or cooperative. Indirect speech acts are considered more polite than direct speech acts. asking for help. please’. To conclude. either in making request. also saves the speaker’s face. at least he doesn’t feel that he is being ordered. As some examples proposed above. By this mean. This politeness strategy is actually expecting the listener to shut up without imposing the listener that he is prohibited to make noise directly. if the listener doesn’t want to.The last type of politeness strategy. On the other hands. some linguists believe that politeness is one of the reasons of why there are so many indirect speech acts. Here. indirect speech acts are used in the negative politeness strategy. This is more polite than the sentence ‘Can you carry some of my stuffs?’ or ‘Carry some of my stuffs!’ which indicates so vividly a kind of order. the sample (2) is avoiding the listeners’ possible interpretation of being ordered. which respects a person's right to act freely. These acts are avoiding the listeners to be face-threatened or to save their ‘face’ and at the same time. (2) Would you mind carry some of my stuffs? This indirect speech acts refers to a mild request to the listener to help the speaker carrying his stuffs. Compare sentence (3) with ‘Shut up!’ or ‘Don’t be noisy. most politeness is indirect. (3) I would appreciate it if you could make less noise. includes the indirect speech acts.

7 . Introduction to Sociolinguistics 5th edition. 1960. 2006. R. R. Politeness: Some universals in language usage. 2003. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Watts. 2006. The Religion of Java. Wardhaugh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Geertz. Glencoe: The Free Press Meyerhoff. 1987.C. C. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. S. P & Levinson. Politeness. Introducing Sociolinguistics. Oxon: Blackwell Publishing. M.References Brown.

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