Spencer Oatey Politeness Theory Essay

To examine applicability of Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory to facework in a non-Western culture, we conducted a questionnaire survey of native Japanese speakers. A rank order of influences on facework behavior was investigated among the five factors: (a) intrinsic factor (Ri; that is, effects caused by difference in settings), (b) contextual factor (Rc; that is, effects caused by difference in types of interlocutor’s contradictory attitudes), (c) power factor (P; that is, effects caused by age difference with the interlocutor), (d) distance factor (D; that is, effects caused by difference in familiarity with the interlocutor), and (e) gender factor (G; that is, whether the participant is male or female). Results revealed that factors related to the intrinsic content of the situation (Ri) and the interlocutor’s attitudes (Rc) had stronger influences than those of the inter- and intrapersonal factors of P, D, and G. Based on these findings, we conclude that Brown and Levinson’s formula is applicable to a non-Western culture, Japan.

Şükriye Ruhi is associate professor of linguistics in the Department of Foreign Language Education, at Middle East Technical University, where she teaches a variety of courses in linguistics, including discourse analysis, pragmatics, psycholinguistics, lexical semantics, and Turkish Linguistics. Her research interests include socio- and cognitive pragmatics, discourse analysis, and politeness theory. She has published articles and book chapters on Turkish discourse. More recently, she has (co-)authored book chapters and an article on complimenting in Turkish in Us and Others: Social Identities Across Languages, Discourses and Cultures (John Benjamins), Linguistic Politeness Across Boundaries: The Case of Greek and Turkish (John Benjamins), and Pragmatics.

Hale Işık-Güler is research assistant in the Department of Foreign Language Education, at Middle East Technical University, where she teaches linguistics and methodology courses. She is currently working toward a doctoral degree in linguistics and foreign language education. Her interests mainly lie within the domains of cross-cultural politeness research, applied linguistics, and the teaching of English and Turkish as a foreign language.

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