Communication and the roles of politeness and face - Dr Michael Davidson, University of Nottingham

This paper outlines a theoretical perspective on a common everyday experience most people would be able to identify in the work situation: that of "face" and the role of politeness. People present an identity with positive social value and seek this to be validated by other people.  However, in the presence of others, we are sometimes exposed to "face-threatening actions" which may include impositions or criticisms. To maintain face, we engage in face-work which helps to maintain each others' identities through communication. Based on observations of three language cultures, Brown and Levinson[i] outline a typology of linguistic politeness strategies which are usefully remembered when interacting with cultural difference.


[i] Brown, P. and Levinson, S. (1987) Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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