LINGUIST List 14.2806

Thu Oct 16 2003

Sum: Cross-Cultural Politeness

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <foxlinguistlist.org>


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  1. Fay Wouk, summary: cross-cultural politeness

Message 1: summary: cross-cultural politeness

Date: Thu, 16 Oct 2003 11:20:51 +1300
From: Fay Wouk <f.woukauckland.ac.nz>
Subject: summary: cross-cultural politeness

A while back I posted a query (Linguist 14.1811) on the sources of the
following three claims, which I believed I had read somewhere:

1. Cross-culturally polite/mitigated utterances tend to be longer
(more words, longer words) than bald-on-record/unmitigated utterances.

2. Cross-culturally politeness tends to increase with greater
differences in status, in particular from the lower status person to
the higher status person.

3. In many cultures, the politeness/intimacy relationship follows a
u-shaped curve, with greatest politeness in the middle area, with
acquaintances, and less politeness with intimates and strangers.


I would like to thank Maria Sifianou, Susan Burt and Jo Tyler for 
their helpful responses.

In response to my first point, no one was able to specify a source. 
So if anyone reading this summary can remember reading such a claim 
anywhere, and can identify the source, I would still be interested in 
hearing from them.

Mary Sifianou suggested that Brown and Levinson might have made such 
a claim, howver, I have gone back and looked through B&L, and have 
not yet found them to say anything along these lines.

Susan Burt wrote:

I think that this is the usual assumption, although there are some 
indications that this may be an antifact of research methods--written 
responses to DCTs (discourse completion tasks) tend to be longer than 
corresponding spoken responses. In addition, there seems to be some 
tendency for non-native speakers to produce longer utterances than 
native speakers. Articles you might want to look at include:

Bardovi-Harlig, Kathleen and Beverley S. Hartford. (1993). 
"Refining the DCT: Comparing Open Questionnaires and Dialogue 
Completion Tasks." Pragmatics and Language Learning 4, pp. 143-165.

Beebe, Leslie M. and Martha Clark Cummings. (1995). "Natural speech 
act data versus written questionnaire data: How data collection 
method affects speech act performance." in Susan M. Gass and Joyce 
Neu (eds.), Speech Acts Across Cultures: Challenges to Communication 
in a Second Language, pp. 65-86. Berlin and New York: Mouton de 
Gruyter.

Cohen, Andrew (1995). "Investigating the production of speech act 
sets." in Susan M. Gass and Joyce Neu (eds.), Speech Acts Across 
Cultures: Challenges to Communication in a Second Language, pp. 
21-43. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Hartford, Beverly S. and Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig (1992). 
"Experimental and Observational Data in the Study of Interlanguage 
Pragmatics." Pragmatics and Language Learning 3, pp. 33-52.

Hinkel, Eli. (1997). "Appropriateness of Advice: DCT and Multiple 
Choice Data." Applied Linguistics 18:1, pp. 1-26.

Houck, Noel and Susan Gass. (1995). "Non-native refusals: A 
methodological perspective." in Susan M. Gass and Joyce Neu (eds.), 
Speech Acts Across Cultures: Challenges to Communication in a Second 
Language, pp. 45-64. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Johnston, Bill, Gabriele Kasper and Steven Ross (1998). "Effect of 
Rejoinders in Production Questionnaires." Applied Linguistics 19:2, 
pp. 157-182.

Kasper, Gabriele (2000). "Data Collection in Pragmatics Research." 
In Helen Spencer-Oatey (ed.) Culturally Speaking: Managing Rapport 
Through Talk Across Cultures. London: Continuum, pp 316-341.

Kasper, Gabriele and Merete Dahl. (1991). "Research Methods in 
Interlanguage Pragmatics." Studies in Second Language Acquisition 
13, pp. 215-247.

Kuha, Mai (1997). "The Computer-Assisted Interactive DCT: A Study in 
Pragmatics Research Methodology." Pragmatics and Language Learning 
8, pp. 99-123.

Rintell, Ellen M. and Candace J. Mitchell (1989). "Studying Requests 
and Apologies: An Inquiry into Method." in Shoshana Blum-Kulka, 
Juliane House and Gabriele Kasper (eds.) : Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: 
Requests and Apologies, pp. 248-272. Norowood, NJ: Ablex.

Rose, Kenneth R. (1992). "Speech acts and questionnaires: The effect 
of hearer response." Journal of Pragmatics 17, pp. 49-62.

Rose, Kenneth R. (1994). "On the Validity of Discourse Completion 
Tests in Non-Western Contexts." Applied Linguistics 15:1, pp. 1-14.

Wolfson, Nessa, Thomas Marmor and Steve Jones. (1989) "Problems in 
the Comparison of Speech Acts Across Cultures." in S. Blum-Kulka, J. 
House and G. Kasper (eds.) Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and 
Apologies, pp.174-196. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.


In response to my second point, both Mary Sifianou and Susan Burt 
pointed me back to Brown & Levinson, as having first made that claim.

In response to my third point, Mary Sifianou, Susan Burt and Jo Tyler 
provided the following references:

Nessa Wolfson (1988). The Bulge: A Theory of Speech Behavior and 
Social Distance. In Jonathan Fine (ed): Second Language Discourse: A 
Textbook of Current Research. Norwood NJ: Ablex.. pp. 21-38

Nessa Wolfson, Perspectives: Sociolinguistics and TESOL, 1989, pp. 
129-139 (Heinle & Heinle)

Jo Tyler also pointed out that Diana Boxer, in studying the speech 
act of complaints, found a different "bulge" pattern (Complaining and 
Comisserating, 1994, Peter Lang Publishing


- 
Dr. Fay Wouk
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics
Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland
New Zealand
f.woukauckland.ac.nz
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