2.Literature ReviewMany of the classic andpostmodern approaches to politeness and impoliteness are centered around theconcept of ‘face’. Therefore, to be able to present a comprehensive overview ofthe concept of ‘impoliteness’, it’s necessary to briefly define the concepts of’face’ and ‘politeness’ first.2.1FaceOne of the earliestdefinitions of face was provided by Goffman (1967) as “the positive socialvalue a person effectively claims for himself by the line others assume he hastaken during a particular contact”. Goffman (1967) also states that “Face is animage of self delineated in terms of approved social attributes – albeit animage that others may share, as when a person makes a good showing for hisprofession or religion by making a good showing for himself” (p. 5).
A briefer explanation of’face’ was made by Thomas (1995) as “an individual’s feeling of self-worth orself image, which can be damaged, maintained or enhanced through interactionwith others” (p. 169).According to Brown and Levinson(1987), ‘face’, the public self-image that every member wants to claim for himself,consists of two related aspects, ‘Positive Face’ and ‘Negative Face’, which canbe summarised as follows:–Negative face: the want of every’competent adult member’ that his/her actionsbeunimpeded by others.–Positive face: the want of everymember that his/her wants be desirable to atleast some others.A brief definition and themain aspects of face are provided above. However, this section does not aim to answerall concerns or satisfy all critics of research conducted on face.
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It onlypresents the most salient issues related to face in order to provide a thoroughdefinition of the concept of ‘impoliteness’. 2.2PolitenessPoliteness has beendefined by a number of researchers. Lakoff (1989) described politeness as “ameans of minimizing the risk of confrontation in discourse—both the possibilityof confrontation occurring at all, and the possibility that a confrontationwill be perceived as threatening” (p.
102) He also identified the politenessprinciple, which was later developed by Leech (1983) and Brown and Levinson(1987).Another definition of politenesswas provided by Leech (1983), who considered politeness a principle “tomaintain the social equilibrium and the friendly relations which enable us toassume that our interlocutors are being cooperative in the first place” (p.82). Later, Brown andLevinson (1987) explained the concept of polititenes as follows, “politeness,like formal diplomatic protocol (for which it must surely be the model),presupposes that potential for aggression as it seeks to disarm it, and makespossible communication between potentially aggressive parties” (p. 1). Brownand Levinson’s (1987) view has been the most influential view among thepoliteness theories, and for that reason, it has also been commented on and criticizedfor various aspects. They alsoproposed a classification of politeness, which comprises five superstrategiesfor performing a face threatenig act (FTA).
These superstrategies aresystematically related to the degree of face threat. Briefly summarized below,the first superstrategy is associated with least face threat, and the last withthe highest: 1. Bald on record.The FTA is performed “in the most direct, clear, unambiguousand concise way possible” (Brown and Levinson, 1987:69).2. Positivepoliteness. The use of strategies designed to redress the addressee’s positiveface wants.
It is “oriented toward the positive face of addressee, the positiveself-image that he claims for himself” (Brown and Levinson, 1987: 70).3. Negativepoliteness. The use of strategies designed to redress the addressee’s negativeface wants.
It is “oriented mainly toward adresseee’s basic want to maintain claimsof territory and self-determination” (Brown and Levinson, 1987: 70).4. Off-record.The FTA is performed in such a way that “there is more than one unambiguouslyattributable intention so that the actor cannot be held to have committed himselfto one particular intent” (Brown and Levinson, 1987: 69).5. Withhold.
TheFTA is not performed. As it is seen, all of thedefinitions provided above emphasized the social aspects of politeness. However,politeness has been explained from a behavioral perpesctive as well. Forinstance, Elen (2001) suggested that “politeness should first and foremost be regardedand studied as a practice” (p. 248). Culpeper (2009)claims that politeness consists of polite behaviors.
He also explains severaltopics in politeness, including the linguistic and non-linguistic behaviorsthat can be classified under the category of politeness and why they arecategorized as polite behaviors. In this section,different perspectives on the concept of politeness, which is closely relatedto impoliteness, have been discussed briefly. Next section will focus on ‘impolitenesstheory’. 2.3 Impoliteness Due to its complexnature, impoliteness has been defined by many researchers.
As Watts (2003) alsoargues, “It is a term that is struggled over at present, has been struggledover in the past and will, in all probability, continue to be struggled in thefuture” (p. 9). The concept of impoliteness is closely related to politeness.However, despite this close relation, Brown and Levinson (1987) mainly focused onpoliteness, considering impoliteness an absence of politeness, and for thatreason, they did not provide a comprehensive analysis of what exactly impolitenessis.
Eelen (2001) argues that impoliteness should be approached in its own termsand not as an absence of politeness. He also claims that most approaches topoliteness are biased. Furthermore, he states: The concepts involved can never explainimpoliteness in the same way or to the same extent as they explain politeness.So the polite bias is not just a matter of differential attention, it goes fardeeper than that: it is a conceptual, theoretical, structural matter.(Eelen, 2001:121) In most generalterms, impoliteness is considered as an act that is intentionally planned to attackothers’ face (Archer, 2008; Bousfield, 2008; Limberg, 2009).
According to Culpeper,Bousfield, and Wichmann (2003), when speakers engage in impolite acts, insteadof maintaining or enhancing the hearers’ face, they intentionally choose to useoffensive language to attack their face. Moreover, Bousfield (2007) suggeststhat “impoliteness constitutes the communication of intentionally gratuitousand conflictive verbal face-threatening acts (FTAs) which are purposefully delivered”(p. 72). While some of theprevious researchers suggest that the intentionality of speakers is crucial inimpoliteness, others advocate that both speakers’ intentionality and listeners’reception are necessary. For instance, Bousfield (2007, p. 72) also states thatimpoliteness can only be considered successful if the intention of the speaker(or ‘author’) to ‘offend’ (threaten/damage face) is understood by those in thereceiver role.
There has been asurge in research conducted on the concept of impoliteness in the last two decades.Research studies in this area are usually supported by theoretical frameworks basedon classical theories of politeness, such as “verbal aggressions”, which was introducedby Lachenicht (1980) and “face attacks”, which was introduced by Culpeper (1996).These two theoretical frameworks were built depending on Brown and Levinson’s(1978) politeness in which the concept of face is dominant. As previosulymentioned in more detail above in the ‘face’ section, Brown and Levinsonclassified two types of face as ‘negative’ and ‘positive’. In relation to thesetwo concepts, Lachenicht’s verbal aggressions refer to acts that areintentionally used to damage others’ positive face (positive aggravations) ornegative face (negative aggravations), while Culpeper’s (1996) face attacksrefer to communicative strategies to attack both positive and negative face.
As a reversalsystem of Brown and Levinson’ s (1987) politeness superstrategies, Culpeperproposed a classification of impoliteness, which consists of five superstrategies.These superstrategies are opposite of politeness superstrategies in terms oforientation to face. Unlike politeness superstrategies, impolitenesssuperstrategies are a means of attacking face instead of enhancing or supportingface. 1. Bald on record impoliteness. It is differentfrom Brown and Levinson’s (1987) and Lachenicht’s (1980) ‘bald on record’. Accordingto Culpeper (1996), Brown and Levinson’s (1987) bald on record superstrategy isdeployed for polite purposes, where there is little face at stake. In contrast,Culpeper’s (1996) bald on record impoliteness superstrategy is typicallydeployed “where there is much face at stake, and where there is an intention onthe part of the speaker to attack the face of the hearer”.
2. Positive impoliteness. Culpeper (1996)argues that this superstrategy exists “for the use of strategies that are designedto damage the addressee’s positive face wants”. 3. Negative impoliteness. According toCulpeper (1996), this superstrategy exists for the use of strategies that are designedto damage the addressee’s negative face wants.
4. Sarcasm or mock politeness. FTAs areperformed with the use of politeness strategies that are obviously insincere,and thus remain surface realizations.
Sarcasm (mock politeness for socialdisharmony) is the opposite of banter (mock impoliteness for social harmony)(Culpeper 1996). 5. Withhold politeness. Keep silent or failto act where politeness work is expected, necessaryor ‘mandatory’ andas a result, damage the addressee’s face (Culpeper 1996). Culpeper (1996)lists the following output strategies under positive impoliteness: 1. Ignore, snub,fail to attend addressee’s interests, wants, needs, goods, etc.2.
Exclude theother from the activity.3. Disassociatefrom the other. Deny common ground, or association.4. Bedisinterested, unconcerned, unsympathetic.5.
Useinappropriate identity markers.6. Use obscure orsecretive language.7. Seekdisagreement. – sensitive topics or just disagree outright (act as ‘Devil’sadvocate’).
8. Avoidagreement. – avoid agreeing with addressee’s position (whether the speakeractually does or not).9. Make the otherfeel uncomfortable.10. Use taboolanguage-swear, be abusive, express strong views opposed to addressee’s.
11. Call the addresseenames – use derogatory nominations.12. Etc… Under negativeimpoliteness, Culpeper (1996) lists the following output strategies: 1. Frighten-instilla belief that action detrimental to other will occur.
2. Condescend,scorn or ridicule-emphasize own power, use diminutives to other (or other’sposition), be contemptuous, belittle, do not take the addressee seriously.3. Invade theother’s space-literally (positioning closer than relationship permits) ormetaphorically ask for intimate information given the relationship)…4.
Explicitlyassociate the addressee with negative aspect- personalize, use pronouns, I andyou.5. Put theaddressee’s indebtedness on record.6. Hinder –physically (block passage), conversationally deny turn, interrupt)7. Etc…
Even though Culpeper(1996) proposed similar superstrategies to the ones in Brown and Levinson’s(1987) politeness model, he also explained that impoliteness causes disharmonyand social disruption since it is defined as the use of utterances that aredesigned to damage the addressee’s face. Later, Culpeper et al. (2003) arguethat all theories concerning politeness allude to impoliteness but given thecomplicated nature of it, all of those theroies fall short in explaining theintricacies of impoliteness. For that reason, Culpeper (2005) revised the fivesuperstrategies and replaced his “Sarcasm or mock politeness” with “Off-recordimpoliteness” as a result of the shift in his focus of intentional, impoliteface-attack to a more contextually and culturally sensitive model (Culpeper,2005, p.40).