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Negative Politeness Strategies (Brown and Levinson)

Another kind of politeness strategies is negative politeness. This strategy used when S wants to show that he cares and respect H’s Negative Face. If S did or will do an FTA, he will minimize the threat by using apology, deference, hedges and other strategies. Negative Politeness strategies consist in assurances that the speaker recognizes and respects the addressee’s negative-Face wants and will not (or will only minimally) interfere with the addressee Freedom of Action.

This strategy assumes that there might be some social distance or awkwardness between speaker and hearer and it is likely to be used whenever a speaker wants to put a social brake on his interaction (Brown and Levinson, 1987: 129).

Moreover, they (p. 129) introduce some strategies that included in negative politeness, they are:

1. Be direct
In the formal situation, sometimes the directness is needed to minimize the imposition by saying the point and avoiding the further imposition of prolixity and ambiguity as mentioned by Lakoff (in Goody, 1996). Fortunately, this strategy is rarely used in negative politeness because it is more relevant to be used in bald on-record strategy. For example, “Help me to pick up these boxes!”
In this strategy, S chooses to come rapidly to the point directly when she or he wants something. She does not care about maintaining face of the H but still respects and assure not to disturb the freedom of action of H.

2. Don’t assume about H’s wants
This type tries to avoid assuming that anything in FTA is desired or believed by H. it is stressed by hedging such assumptions in the form of word and phrase that modify the degree of predicate membership. For example, “A swing is sort of a toy’, or “You are quite right”.

3. Don’t coerce H
a. By avoiding coercing H’s response means that S gives H the option not to do a certain act.
b. By avoiding coercion of H means that S minimizes the threat by clarifying S view of the P, D and R values. 
c. Communicate S want not to impinge on H Indicate that S is aware and he takes account in his decision to communicate the FTA is one of the ways to satisfy H’s negative face.

4. Redress others’ wants of H
This is the higher strategy of negative politeness that consists of offering partial compensation for the face threat in FTA. It shows that negative politeness attends to other wants can be derived (H’s desire for territorial integrity and self determination). 

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  1. Your blog is useful, it helps me in my studies. Thank you very much.

  2. Thank you very much for theses useful informations. because, we don't have the opportunity to get books on these authors, so what you are doing is great.

    I am writing of prototypical politeness schemata in Cameroon,an analysis of political discourse. I really expected to find the 10 negative politeness strategies of Brown and Levinson, these would have help me as indicators of FTA to the owner of power in my textual corpus.

    Once again, Thank you very much for this help.


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