Politeness phenomena in England and Greece : a cross-cultural perspective


Politeness phenomena in England and Greece : a cross-cultural perspective

Maria Sifianou

Clarendon Press, c1992

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Includes bibliographical references (p. [231]-246) and index



Politeness is crucial to successful communication and is consequently of great interest to those who study language and its social context. This book presents an application of Brown and Levinson's theoretical work in a full-length comparative case-study. Maria Sifianou draws her data from a variety of sources, including literature (particularly drama), questionnaires, and personal observation. She attempts to discover the principles underlying social interaction in both intracultural and intercultural contexts, and discusses the extent to which the concept of politeness is common to different cultures. She argues that politeness is conceptualized differently and thus manifested differently in the two societies under study: Greeks tend to use more "positive" politeness devices than the English, who prefer more "negative" devices. Positive politeness is more closely related to friendliness, negative politeness to formality. Dr Sifianou's analysis illustrates and supports the general claim that, despite popular stereotypes, there can be no objective verification for the view that one nation is more polite than another. Sociologists, applied linguists, theoretical linguists; cultural anthropologists and other social scientists interested in language. Specialists in the Greek and English languages or cultures; Greek teachers/students of English, English teachers/students of Greek.


Introduction. 1: Politeness: Setting the scene. 2: Politeness: Cross-cultural perspectives. 3: Perceptions of politeness. 4: Speech act theory and politeness: Requests. 5: Requests: Form and function. 6: Requests: Modification. 7: Conclusions. Appendices. References. Index

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