POLITENESS you do not mind…” or “If it


Politeness is that the application of excellent manners
or rule. It’s a culturally outlined development, and so what’s thought of
polite in one culture will typically be quite rude or just eccentric in another
cultural context.

Whereas the goal of politeness is to form all of the
parties relaxed and cozy with each other, these culturally outlined standards
sometimes is also manipulated to communicate shame on a delegated party.


Anthropologists Penelope Brown and writer
Levinson known 2 forms of politeness, etymologizing from Julius Winfield Erving
Goffman’s idea of face:

politeness:  creating letter of invitation less infringing,
love “If you do not mind…” or “If it is not an excessive
amount of bother…” respects somebody’s right to act freely. In different
words, deference. there’s a larger use of indirect speech acts.

politeness: Seeks to ascertain a positive relationship
between parties; respects somebody’s got to be likable and understood. Direct
speech acts, swearing Associate in Nursingd flouting Grice’s maxims will be
thought of aspects of positive politeness because:

They show association in Nursing awareness
that the link is powerful enough to contend with what would ordinarily be
thought of bratty (in the favored understanding of the term);

They articulate an awareness of the opposite
person’s values, that fulfills the person’s need to be accepted.

Some cultures appear to like one in all these
forms of politeness over the opposite. During this manner politeness is
culturally certain.


Throughout the Enlightenment era, a self-conscious method
of the imposition of polite norms and behaviors became an emblem of being a
cultured member of the social class. upwards mobile social class socio-economic
class progressively tried to spot themselves with the elite through their
adopted inventive preferences and their standards of behavior. They became
preoccupied with precise rules of rule, love once to indicate feeling, the art
of chic dress and sleek spoken language and the way to act politely, particularly
with girls. prestigious during this new discourse was a series of essays on the
character of politeness during a business society, fenced in by the thinker
Lord Shaftesbury within the early eighteenth century.1 Shaftesbury outlined
politeness because the art of being pleasing in company:

Ral’s politeness’ is also outlined a deft management of
our words and actions, whereby we have a tendency to create others have higher
opinion people and themselves.

Periodicals, love The Spectator, supported as a daily
publication by Joseph Addison and Richard author in 1711, gave regular
recommendation to its readers on the way to be a polite gentleman. Its
explicit  goal was “to enliven
morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality…to bring philosophy out of
the closets and libraries, faculties and faculties, to dwell in clubs and
assemblies, at tea-tables and coffeehouses” It provided its readers with
educated, topical talking points, and recommendation in the way to stick with
it conversations and social interactions during a polite manner.

The art of polite spoken language and dialogue was
significantly cultivated within the coffeehouses of the amount. spoken language
was imagined to adapt to a selected manner, with the language of polite and
civil spoken language thought of to be essential to the conduct of restaurant
dialogue and spoken language. The idea of ‘civility’ noted a desired social
interaction that valued sober and reasoned dialogue on matters of interest.
Established rules and procedures for correct behavior also as conventions, were
printed by gentleman’s clubs, love Harrington’s Rota Club. Periodicals,
together with The Tatler and therefore the Spectator, infused politeness into
English restaurant spoken language, as their specific purpose lay within the
reformation of English manners and morals.

Politeness theory

Politeness theory accounts for the redressing of affronts
to somebody’s ‘face’ by face-threatening acts. The idea of face was derived
from Chinese into English within the nineteenth century. Julius Winfield Erving
Goffman would then maintain to introduce the idea into world through his
theories of ‘face’ and ‘ link
“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facework” o “Facework”
facework’. though politeness has been studied during a sort of cultures for
several years, Penelope Brown and writer Levinson’s politeness theory has
become terribly prestigious. In 1987, Brown and Levinson planned that
politeness was a universal idea, that has created arguing at intervals world.
Politeness is that the expression of the speakers’ intention to mitigate face
threats carried by sure face threatening acts toward the perceiver. Another
definition is “a battery of social skills whose goal is to make sure
everybody feels Affirmed during a social interaction”. Therefore, being
polite will be an effort for the speaker to avoid wasting their own face or the
face of WHO he or she is rebuke.

Positive and
negative face

Face is that the public self-image that each person tries
to safeguard. Brown and Levinson outlined positive face 2 ways: as “the
need of each member that his needs be fascinating to a minimum of some others
executors” , or as an alternative, “the positive consistent
self-image or ‘personality’ (crucially together with the need that this
self-image be appreciated and approved of) claimed by interactants” Negative
face was outlined as “the need of each ‘competent adult member’ that his
actions be unobstructed by others”, or “the basic claim to
territories, personal preserves, rights to non-distraction—i.e. the liberty of
action and freedom from imposition” Whereas positive face involves a need
for reference to others, negative face desires embody autonomy and

10 years later, Brown characterised positive face by
needs to be likable, admired, ratified, and regarding absolutely, noting that
one would threaten positive face by ignoring somebody. At a similar time, she
characterised negative face by the need to not be obligatory upon, noting that
negative face might be impinged upon by imposing on somebody. Positive face
refers to one’s shallowness, whereas negative face refers to one’s freedom to
act.These 2 aspects of face area unit the essential needs in any social
interaction; throughout any social interaction, cooperation is required amongst
the participants to keep up every other’s face. Participants will try this by exploitation
positive politeness and negative politeness, that listen to people’s positive
and negative face desires severally.


According to Brown and Levinson, positive and negative
face exist universally in human culture; it’s been argued that the notion of
face is that the actual universal part to their planned politeness theory .A
face threatening act is Associate in Nursing act that inherently damages the
face of the receiver or the speaker by acting con to the needs and needs of the
opposite. Face threatening acts will be verbal (using words/language), para verbal
(conveyed within the characteristics of speech love tone, inflection, etc.), or
non-verbal (facial expression, etc.) supported the terms of spoken language in
social interactions, face-threatening acts area unit sometimes inevitable. At
minimum, there should be a minimum of one in all the face threatening acts
related to Associate in Nursing auditory communication. It’s conjointly doable
to possess multiple acts operating at intervals one auditory communication.

face-threatening acts

Negative face is vulnerable once a private doesn’t avoid
or shall avoid the obstruction of their interlocutor’s freedom of action. It
will cause injury to either the speaker or the observer, and makes one in all
the interlocutors submit their can to the opposite. Freedom of selection and
action area unit obstructed once negative face is vulnerable.

Damage to the

The subsequent area unit cases during which the negative
face of the observer (the person being spoken to) is vulnerable.

Associate in Nursing act that affirms or denies a future
act of the observer creates pressure on the observer to either perform or not
perform the act.

Examples: orders, requests, suggestions, advice,
remindings, threats, or warnings.

Associate in Nursing act that expresses the speaker’s
sentiments of the observer or the hearer’s belongings.

Examples: compliments, expressions of envy or admiration,
or expressions of sturdy negative feeling toward the observer (e.g. hatred,
anger, distrust).

Associate in Nursing act that expresses some positive
future act of the speaker toward the observer. In doing therefore, pressure has
been placed on the observer to just accept or reject the act and presumably
incur a debt.

Examples: offers and guarantees.

Damage to the

The subsequent area unit cases during which the negative
face of the speaker (the person talking) is vulnerable.

Associate in Nursing act that shows that the speaker is
succumbing to the facility of the observer.

Expressing thanks.

Acceptive a thanks or apology.


Acceptance of offers.

A response to the observer’s violation of social rule.

The speaker commits himself to one thing he or she
doesn’t need to try and do.

face-threatening acts

Positive face
is vulnerable once the speaker or hearer doesn’t care regarding their
interactor’s feelings, wants, or doesn’t need what the opposite needs. Positive
face threatening acts may also cause injury to the speaker or the observer.
once a private is forced to be separated from others in order that their well
being is treated less significantly, positive face is vulnerable.

Damage to the

The subsequent area unit cases during which
the positive face of the observer (the person being spoken to) is vulnerable.

Associate in Nursing act that expresses the speaker’s
negative assessment of the hearer’s positive face or a part of his/her positive
face. The speaker will show this disapproval in 2 ways in which. the primary
approach is for the speaker to directly or indirectly indicate that he dislikes
some side of the hearer’s possessions, desires, or personal attributes. The
second approach is for the speaker to precise disapproval by stating or
implying that the observer is wrong, irrational, or misguided.

Examples: expressions of disapproval (e.g. insults,
accusations, complaints), contradictions, disagreements, or challenges.

Associate in Nursing act that expresses the speaker’s
indifference toward the addressee’s positive face.

The receiver can be embarrassed for or concern the

Examples: overly emotional expressions.

The speaker indicates that he does not have a similar
values or fears because the observer.

Examples: disrespect, mention of topics that area unit
inappropriate normally or within the context.

The speaker indicates that he’s willing to disregard the
emotional well being of the observer. Examples: belittling or self-praise.

The speaker will increase the likelihood that a
face-threatening act can occur. This example is formed once a subject is observed
by the speaker that’s a sensitive social group subject.

Examples: topics that relate to politics, race, religion.

The speaker indicates that he’s indifferent to the
positive face needs of the observer. this can be most frequently expressed in
obvious non-cooperative behavior.

Examples: interrupting, non sequiturs.

The speaker misidentifies the observer in Associate in
Nursing offensive or embarrassing manner. This could occur either accidentally
or by choice. Generally, this refers to the misuse of address terms in
reference to standing, gender, or age.

Example: Addressing a file as “ma’am” rather
than “miss.”

Damage to the

The subsequent area unit cases during which the positive
face of the speaker (the person talking) is vulnerable.

Associate in Nursing act that shows that the speaker is
in some sense wrong, and unable to regulate himself.

Apologies: during this act, speaker is damaging his own
face by admitting that he regrets one in all his previous acts.

Acceptance of a compliment.

Inability to regulate one’s physical self.

Inability to regulate one’s emotiona.



How refusals
threaten positive and negative face

In their study of refusals to requests, Johnson et al.
argue refusals will threaten each the positive and negative face of the refuser
(the one that was asked a favor), and therefore the positive face of the
requester (the person posing for a favor). Obstacles, or reasons for
non-compliance with somebody’s request, will “vary on 3 dimensions: willingness-unwillingness,
ability-inability, and focus on-focus aloof from the requester”.

The temperament dimension differentiates between refusals
wherever the refuser states, “I don’t need facilitate|to assist} you”
and “I’d prefer to help.” Ability differentiates between, “I’m
short on cash” and “I have some extra cash.” Focus on-focus
aloof from requester differentiates between, “It’s your drawback,
therefore you are taking care of it” and “It’s terrible that your mum
will not offer you the cash.”

Once an individual makes letter of invitation, their
positive face is vulnerable principally on the flexibility and disposition
dimensions. folks tend to form requests of “intimates,” folks they’re
imagined to grasp well/have an honest relationship with. Threat to the
requester’s positive face will increase once the requester chooses an
individual WHO has low ability/inability to meet the request or is unwilling to
abide by (the person being asked needs to refuse the request); selecting an
individual with low ability suggests the requester has poor relative data. On
the opposite hand, selecting an individual with high ability decreases threat
to the requester’s positive face as a result of it shows the requester’s
competence; selecting an individual with high temperament reinforces the
requester’s selection and reduces threats to positive face.

Selecting to refuse or not refuse letter of invitation
will threaten the requester’s positive and negative faces in several ways in
which. once an individual refuses to adjust to letter of invitation from
Associate in Nursing intimate, they’re violating relative expectations and
increasing threat to their positive face; but, focusing attention aloof from
the requester will decrease threat to the requester’s positive face though they’re
unwilling to assist. In distinction, focusing attention on the requester will
increase threat to positive face since it highlights the requester’s
disposition. Accept letter of invitation is that the least threatening act.

Threats to the refuser’s negative face vary on the
flexibility and focus dimensions. Focusing aloof from the requester permits the
refuser to keep up their autonomy whereas maintaining the relationship; this
results in less face-threat if the refuser has high ability as a result of they
will select whether or not to abide by or not. that specialize in the requester
would threaten their relationship with the requester and their long-run
autonomy (the requester is also unwilling to abide by to future requests once
the roles area unit reversed); but, if the refuser has low ability, that
specialize in the requester will truly decrease threats to negative face by
showing they’re unable to abide by though they needed to.

*Note: the requester and refuser would be analogous to
the “speaker” and “hearer” roles mentioned earlier within
the section “Face-threatening acts”.

Criticism of
the theory

Brown and Levinson’s theory of politeness has been
criticised as not being universally valid, by linguists operating with
East-Asian languages, together with Japanese. Matsumoto and Ide claim that
Brown and Levinson assume the speaker’s willing 
use of language, that permits the speaker’s artistic use of face-maintaining
methods toward the receiver. In East-Asian cultures like Japan, politeness is
achieved not most on the premise of volition as on discernment (wakimae,
finding one’s place), or prescribed social norms. Wakimae is familiarised
towards the necessity for acknowledgment of the positions or roles of all the
participants also as adherence to formality norms acceptable to the actual

Japanese is probably the
foremost wide known  example of a
language that encodes politeness at its terribly core. Japanese has 2 main
levels of politeness, one for intimate acquaintances, family and friends, and
one for different teams, and verb morpHology reflects these levels. Besides
that, some verbs have special hyper-polite suppletive forms. This happens
conjointly with some nouns and interrogative pronouns. Japanese conjointly
employs totally different personal pronouns for every person per gender, age,
rank, degree of acquaintance, and different cultural factors. See Honorific
speech in Japanese, for more data.

Politeness and different cultures

Totally different cultures round the world will have
wildly different notions of politeness, and the way they expect polite folks to
behave. One, typically rather radical, extreme of this type of culture will be
found in Japan. a very polite Japanese could be a quite stereotype, however as
so much as i do know, this stereotype is truly not all that far-fetched in
several cases.

Historically (and in several cases even today) Japanese
have extraordinarily sturdy notions regarding politeness, honor and shame.
parenthetically, offending  a guest will
be seen united of the best shames an individual will suffer, and plenty of
traditionally-raised Japanese can typically head to nearly ridiculous lengths
to avoid this. They usually have nice issue with this once handling foreigners
they do not grasp or grasp little, as a result of they need no plan what might
be thought of bratty and rude to the culture this foreigner is from. several
Japanese folks outright concerning foreigners as a result of they fear that
they’re going to offend them and therefore cause themselves nice shame, up to
the purpose of going into a panic once a foreigner approaches or speaks to
them, is not only Associate in Nursing urban legend, however truly happens typically.

A foreigner visiting Japan ought to sometimes watch out
regarding what he says and particularly what he asks. There area unit infinite
real-life stories of foreigners accidentally inflicting plenty of labor or
different quite bother to some Japanese folks as a result of he carelessly
asked for one thing while not realizing that the japanese person would possibly
then feel responsible to meet that request to the most effective of his or her
skills, lest he or she make up nice shame. Parenthetically, merely asking
somebody for directions to some place would possibly create that person truly
guide them in person to the place in question, regardless of however so much
it’s and the way long it takes, even if it’d are fully spare. (Yes, this is
going on to acquaintances of mine.)

The intense politeness culture of Japan will be seen in
their language. Japanese in all probability has a lot of words and inflections
regarding totally different degrees of politeness than eg. Spanish has verb
inflections. there’s one side of this Japanese politeness culture that I
greatly admire, though:

The Japanese , typically speaking, have nice respect for
foreign cultures, perceive that they will be quite totally different from their
own, and therefore don’t place unfair expectations on the behavior of
foreigners. As so much as i do know, the default assumption is that if a
foreigner acts during a sure manner (which isn’t outright rude, worrying or
violent), it’s as a result of that is traditional in their culture, and thus it’s
ok and will be revered and understood. A similar cannot, sadly, be aforesaid of
another cultures wherever a point of politeness is predicted as a cultural
norm, and it’s assumed that everyone can adapt to those norms, even foreigners
from different cultures wherever the norms can be totally different. It is, of
course, an honest factor if a human gets at home with the cultural norms of the
country he’s visiting and tries to adjust them also as he will. However,
expecting each visitant to understand these norms by memory, several of that
are ingrained into locals through years of being raised and living within the
place, will be quite unreasonable. The polite factor would be to not apply a
similar politeness assumptions to those who come back from a distinct culture.
This gets particularly glaring once folks from one culture think about a
foreigner rude and bratty, and begin dodging him, as a result of he doesn’t
adapt to a similar cultural politeness norms because the locals. It’s rather
unreasonable to expect everyone to possess a similar ideas of social norms as
them. Having such expectations is, in fact, disrespectful during a way: there’s
no respect and understanding to the variations between cultures. Finnish folks
particularly usually have issues with this. The politeness expectations in
European nation area unit quite reserved compared to several different
countries. If, parenthetically, a cashier greets you, you’re expected to greet
back, and when a meal (if you did not create it yourself) you’re expected to
convey the one that created it (mostly as a matter of protocol than something
else), and if you wish to induce the eye of a alien you’re expected to mention
(the Finnish equivalent of) “excuse me” instead of “hey
you”, and different similar things, however otherwise Finns sometimes do
not litter their everyday speech courteously and formalities, not even once
speaking with strangers, except maybe in extraordinarily formal things (such as
once directly addressing the President of European nation or one thing on those
lines). it should be quite telling that there’s no Finnish word for
“please”. (If letter of invitation is completed in a well mannered
way, it will be developed with a lot of polite forms, love the Finnish
equivalents of “would you” and “if you’d be therefore
kind”, however there merely is not any word which means
“please”.) in contrast to in several different cultures, it’s
traditional to handle even strangers quite informally and, in contrast to
parenthetically in several components of the u. 
s., to rarely address them by name. In these components of the u.  s., this behavior particularly will typically
be thought of rude. There it’s a norm to say the name of the person you’re
addressing, and avoiding it will be seen as quite rude and thoughtless. many
Finn has noticed the exhausting manner that what’s the cultural norm in
European nation with relevance politeness is sort of plenty below the
equivalent norms in several different countries. In several different
countries, parenthetically the u.  s.,
speech is usually extensive in polite forms love “would you”,
“please”, “sir”, “if you would be therefore
kind”, exploitation the name of the person you’re rebuke, and so on, even
once the folks grasp one another fine. somebody not doing therefore can be
thought of dislikeable and be shunned. In European nation it’d feel strange to
litter speech therefore extravagantly with pleasantries and politeness,
particularly among friends. Not that it’d be fully outre, however it’s simply
not the norm. it’d actually be peculiar. The factor I notice a touch annoying
is once politeness expectations area unit placed on Finns (or normally on any
folks from another culture) while not taking into thought that they’re,
actually, from another culture and things can be totally different there. If an
individual from another country does not litter their speech with pleasantries,
it does not essentially mean that they’re being rude and bratty, and
presumptuous therefore is unreasonable and unfair.