Politeness Principle


Politeness Principle

Why people are often so indirect in what they mean?
A: We will all miss Bill and Agatha, won’t we?
B: Well, we will all miss Bill.
Apparent breach of maxim of__?
P: Someone’s eaten the icing off the cake.
C: It wasn’t me.
Apparent breach of maxim of___?
The examples illustrate how an apparent breach of CP, at a deeper level of interpretation involves PP (Politeness Principle).

Politeness Principle
Minimize the expression of ‘impolite beliefs’.
Maximize the expression of ‘polite beliefs’.
Polite beliefs: favorable to the hearer.
Impolite beliefs: unfavorable to the hearer.
Different kinds and degrees of politeness are required for different situations (illocutionary functions).
Illocutionary functions may be classified into four types.
Varieties of Illocutionary Functions
Competitive: illocutionary goal competes with the social goal; eg ordering, asking, demanding, begging.
Convivial: illocutionary goal coincides with the social goal; eg offering, inviting, greeting, thanking, congratulating.
Collaborative: illocutionary goal is indifferent to the social goal; e.g. asserting, reporting, announcing, instructing.
Conflictive: illocutionary goal conflicts with the social goal; e.g. threatening, accusing, cursing, reprimanding.
Searle’s categories of illocutionary acts
Assertives belong to collaborative category.
Directives belong to the competitive category.
Commissives tend to be convivial.
Expressives also tend to be convivial.
Negative politeness is found in directive class.
Positive politeness is found in commissive and expressive class.


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