A Politeness Strategy: Downtoners, Hedges and Disclaimers

By Mei-yun Ko and Tzu-fu Wang.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The present study aims to explore the function of mitigating lexical items in English such as hedges, disclaimers or so-called downtoners as a politeness strategy in different contexts. The data were taken from a corpus of spontaneous speech tape-recorded from television shows. Analyses are anchored within Brown and Levinson's politeness theory of 'face wants,' and Robin Lakoff's model of communication. Eight speech acts are discussed in terms of the use of mitigation; they are raising of emotional/critical topics, request for agreement/permission/confirmation, suggestion, interruption, boasting and self-praising, replying to the embarrassing question, confession, and comments/accusation/criticism. By examining these lexical devices, we can better understand how people use language unreflectively but nevertheless use it with purpose smoothly and efficiently. Besides, the study also provides some pedagogical implications for teaching English to speakers of other languages. ESL/EFL teachers could promote students' awareness of the strategic use of mitigation in English to help students be able speak not only grammatically but also pragmatically appropriate.

Keywords: Politeness Theory, Face Wants

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp.189-198. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 584.006KB).

Prof. Mei-yun Ko

Associate Professor, Department of Applied Foreign Languages, National Formosa University, Huwei, Yunlin, Taiwan

Mei-yun Ko is Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Foreign Languages at National Formosa University in Taiwan. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in language education at Indiana University. Her current research interests include critical literacy, discourse analysis and reading instruction.

Prof. Tzu-fu Wang

Associate Professor, Department of Applied Foreign Languages, National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, Huwei, Yunlin, Taiwan

Tzu-fu Wang is Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Foreign Languages at National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, Taiwan. He currently teaches courses in translation studies, EFL writing, and qualitative reseach method. His research interests include literacy studies, EFL teaching, and translation.

Reviews:

There are currently no reviews of this product.

Write a Review