Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 11 : 11 November 2011
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.
         L. Ramamoorthy, Ph.D.





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Politeness: Characterization and Literary Discourse

Nawal Fadhil Abbas, Ph.D. Candidate
Raja Rozina Raja Suleiman, Ph.D.


In the past few decades, there has been a growing interest among scholars and researchers in applying pragmatic tools, primarily developed in relation to spoken interaction (Black, 2006), to literary discourse; an interest in the whole texts and their communicative functions and uses in particular contexts (Short, 1995). It is growing simply because most of the pragmatic analysis was basically done on the spoken side of language use and considerably less on written use and very little on literary activity.

Linguistic politeness has been proved, by many linguists and scholars we well, to be a successful device to study literature linguistically, in particular studying that aspect of characterization. This study aims at investigating Anne's character and character traits in Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, which has a very powerful meaning in children's literature, in relation to other characters inside and outside Green Gables as she grows and develops from a socially marginalized female character to a productive contributing citizen of Avonlea.

The analysis shows that super and sub-strategies of linguistic politeness are capable of reflecting the character's interaction in relation to social role(s). To achieve the purpose of the study, the researchers utilize Brown and Levinson's linguistic politeness model (1987) in addition to Rossen-Knill's Face Attentiveness model (1995). The value of the study can be estimated not only by those working within the branches of linguistics or literature, but also it can be of value to students and teachers especially those teach and study the novel as part of their curriculum.

Key words: Politeness, character analysis, literary discourse, social role, social interaction.

1. Introduction

Politeness has no specific meaning or definition but at the same time it is recognized by its linguistic strategies. Politeness strategies are designed to "maintain or promote harmonious social relations" and "it comes about when one indicates concern to support someone else's face"(Culpeper, 1998: 85). The ultimate aim of politeness is to make all participants in a conversation as relaxed and as comfortable with each other as possible (Hei, 2008:121). Lakoff (in Davies, et al, 2011) defines politeness as "a means of minimizing confrontation in discourse". Politeness, on the other hand, plays a part in maintaining order in communication by adhering to the socio-cultural norms of relating communication to social order (Pillai, 2008:3). This goes hand in hand with "the concept of politeness as governed by socio-culturally specific norms of linguistic behavior" (Bharuthram, 2003; Blum-Kulka, 1990; Kitamura, 2000). One of the chief cross-cultural realizations of politeness is the use of 'indirectness' in language. By this strategy, speakers can to some extent 'get off the hook' in a way not always possible through direct or unambiguous utterances (Simpson, 1993: 130).

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Nawal Fadhil Abbas, Ph.D. Candidate
English Language Studies Section
School of Humanities
University Sains Malaysia
11800 Penang

Raja Rozina Raja Suleiman, PhD
English Language Studies Section
School of Humanities
University Sains Malaysia
11800 Penang

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