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Brown and Levinson's Politeness Strategies

As it has been discussed in the previous article: means of communication, that as a means of communication, related to discourse study, language has two primary functions, those are, transactional and interactional function. In a simple definition, the first term refers to language as a means of conveyance of information, while the second refers to language that functions as a means of social relation maintenance. In line with the second function of language,  interactional function, people have to see to whom they are speaking, because it may be some expressions are considered rude. It is needed to identify the social values of a society in order to speak politely. Making decisions about what is not regarded as polite expressions in any community will involve assessing social relationship along the dimensions of social distance or solidarity, and relative power or status. Being polite may also involve the dimension of formality.

The study of politeness strategy is basically the study of knowing the way the people use the language while they are having interaction or communication. It preaches how to use the language and conduct the conversation run well and go smoothly.
In case of communication, however, everyone wants to be understood and not to be disturbed by others; moreover, he or she does not want to loose his face while communicating. Loosing face means the notions of being embarrassed, humiliated or disappointed. That is why face is something that is emotionally invested, maintained, enhanced and constantly attended in an interaction.

Concept of face
Face means respect, self-esteem, self-image in the community, Brown and Levinson say that society is governed by two desires: to be free from imposition, and to be appreciated and approved of. First desire considered a negative politeness, and the latter is considered a positive politeness.
Face is the central idea of ​​this theory:

  • Negative face includes the following aspects: the basic demands of the private property and personal space, rights not to be disturbed, freedom of action and freedom from imposition. 
  • Positive face refers to personality as well as desires that his own self-image is accepted and respected, the value of face is different in different cultures: the definite boundary  is a private space and the local culture. 

Face-Threatening Act (FTA) 
Meanwhile, in a conversation, the interlocutor could be a threat to someone's face and the face of his own by making a question, suggestion, criticism, reveling mistake, thanking, and so on. All of these are so-called face-threatening act (FTA). Most of the speech acts of speaker emerged potentially results FTA.

FTA could threaten the face of both positive and negative, as in point (I) and (II):
(I) Negative FTA: command, request, suggest, suggestions, remind, threaten, warn, offer, promise, express jealousy, admiration, hate, anger, passion, etc
(Ii) Positive FTA: an expression of disapproval, criticism, felt disgust, complaining, accusing, insulting, diagreeing, emotionally abusive, mentioning taboo topics, interrupting and uncooperative, etc.

4 Kinds of politeness strategies (Brown & Levinson) 
• The bald on-record strategy does nothing to minimize threats to the hearer's "face" (directly without regard to the "face" of listener-usually in a subordinate-supervisor relationship)

 e.g. close the door!

• The positive politeness strategy shows you recognize that your hearer has a desire to be respected. It also confirms that the relationship is friendly and expresses group reciprocity. (Wish yourself image is accepted and appreciated)

e.g. we both know that (seek agreement) everything will be alright from now on.

Brown and Levinson propose fifteen positive and 10 negative politeness strategies in which for further explanation will be discussed in "Positive Politeness Vs. Negative Politeness Strategies".

kinds of positive politeness strategies
1. Notice, Attend to H: speakers are advised to pay attention to the condition of the listener
2. Exaggerate: exaggeration on the condition of the listener
3. Intensify interest: strengthening S's interest to the condition H
4. Use in group identity markers: put H as part of the community of S
5. Seek agreement: provide the same perception of the condition that occurs towards the S.
6. etc.

• The negative politeness strategy also Recognizes the hearer's face. But it also Recognizes that you are in some way imposing on them. (Right to not be disturbed)

e.g. "I do not want to bother you but ..." or "I was wondering if ..."

• Off-record indirect strategies the main purpose is to take some of the pressure off of you. You are trying to avoid the direct Face Threatening Act of asking something. (Do indirect FTA-satire / questions)

e.g. This day is very hot, is not it?

Used to tell someone standing / sitting near the window to open it.
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  1. would you like to share the e-book or pdf form of brown and levinson's book? universal language... i really need it for my undergraduate thesis thank u.

  2. Yes, please share the Pdf of Brown and Levinson. I alson need it to do my thesis. I take title of Politeness Strategies in this case.

  3. sorry, may you show to me the references from your article? thank you.


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