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This volume is dedicated to Maria Sifianou, whose diverse contributions to the study of politeness over the last 30 years have had a significant impact on the development of the field. Her numerous publications have not only helped refine and deepen our understanding of a wide range of politeness phenomena, but have also provided alternative interpretations, enabling us to view politeness through a cultural lens. The volume reflects the remarkable breadth of her scholarship by providing a coherent treatment of politeness as well as a broad multilinguistic perspective, with its 12 chapters examining a wide range of languages and language varieties.
Culpeper, O’Driscoll and Hardaker’s chapter probes into British people’s understandings of politeness and contrasts them with the understandings of people in North America. Such overarching generalisations, the authors argue, are commonly found in lay persons’ assessments of politeness and thus constitute fertile ground for studies of metapragmatic politeness. Furthermore, the results of a survey of studies focusing on either British culture or North American culture as reified entities indicated a scarcity of emic studies of these cultures in the field of politeness. The authors’ study aims to fill this gap. To that end, they apply corpus linguistic tools to the Oxford English Corpus and subject to scrutiny the lexeme ‘polite’ and the associated clusters of collocates. The results are then triangulated with geolocated Twitter data. Findings partly support both the British and the North American politeness stereotypes, but also show that, contrary to expectations, friendliness and involvement are an important feature of understandings of politeness in both the UK and the USA.
In her study of Greek offers, Bella uses experimental data collection methods to compare the use of politeness in offers directed at friends and offers made by students to their professors. Bella uses open role plays to establish the formulations her participants deem appropriate in the two situations, and retrospective verbal interviews to provide information about the motivations for their choice of politeness strategies. In the Greek context, offers have been defined as positive politeness devices, enhancing solidarity and reaffirming relationships, in line with the classification of Greece as a positive politeness culture. Bella’s study, however, illustrates that offers vary significantly according to the relationship between the interlocutors, with offers in asymmetrical situations characterised by a preference for negative politeness. These differences are reflected not only in the amount of directness expressed, but also through the degree of insistence. This sequential feature of offers is further illustrated on the basis of a naturally occurring interaction that validates the experimental data, while showing that politeness is an interactional phenomenon.
Garcés-Conejos Blitvich and Bou-Franch’s chapter aims to throw light on emic understandings of face1 and imagen1 in Peninsular Spanish, and to compare such understandings with etic approaches to imagen and identity. A three-pronged methodology is used to tease out lay meanings of imagen from different first-order sources, and includes the examination of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, the analysis of a corpus of Spanish newspapers, and the analysis of data from focus groups discussing situated experiences of imagen1. The results show that imagen1 and face1 are not related in a straightforward manner. Whereas imagen2 draws on Goffman’s and Brown and Levinson’s seminal definitions of the construct, imagen1 does not always evoke imagen2; when it does, it is more closely related to Goffman’s than to Brown and Levinson’s conception. Microanalysis of naturally-occurring discourse focusing on experiences of imagen1 shows how uses of imagen1 pointed to the centrality of identity and its relationship with face1. The author’s findings thus give credence to that fact that face and identity co-constitute each other and are hard to separate theoretically and analytically.
Taking an up-to-date and truly global approach, this volume presents a wide range of phenomena in politeness research, and discusses key developments in the field. Covering eight major world languages as well as several language varieties, a team of leading scholars provide a multilingual and multicultural perspective on various speech acts and emic conceptualisations of politeness, and a diachronic view of the field. Most significantly, the volume focuses on the latest trends in the field, such as metapragmatic approaches to im/politeness, politeness and globalization, politeness in computer mediated communication, and politeness and prosody, spanning a wide range of methodologies and types of data, including naturally occurring conversations, role plays, email messages, social media, online discussion forums, ethnographic interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, experiments and language corpora.
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