A comparative analysis of politeness in British and American films

Plaza Huanca, Camila
Pérez-Llantada Auría, María Carmen (dir.)

Universidad de Zaragoza, FFYL, 2014
Filología Inglesa y Alemana department, Filología Inglesa area

Graduado en Estudios Ingleses

Abstract: Abstract Many authors, especially Penelope Brown and Steven Levinson have focused the analysis of politeness use in spoken and written registers in order to explain how participants can be explicitly and overtly polite. These authors have further argued that gender and cross-cultural differences are crucial to study the way in which people make use of politeness in everyday conversation. The overall approach of these authors contends that, on the one hand, women use more positive politeness strategies than men and that, on the other hand, American speakers rely on positive politeness more often than British speakers do. The latter are said to generally draw on negative politeness strategies. However, although some authors like Janet Holmes follow Brown and Levinson’s postulates for the analysis of politeness, others, like Sara Mills regard their approach as insufficient to analyse how politeness works in conversation. The main aim of this dissertation is to analyse the use of pragmatic politeness and, as a secondary aim, to explore the extent to which these strategies are determined by gender and cultural differences. The analysis of a selection of British and American romantic comedies do not seem to coincide with Brown and Levinson’s observations regarding women as positively polite and men as negatively polite. Results, though exploratory, do not seem to support the existence of cross-cultural differences. Of note, the most frequent politeness strategy was hedging, not an unexpected finding given that hedges have been reported to be a highly frequent feature of conversational, spoken English.. In sum, the pragmatic strategies identified seem to be clearly determined by the context of language use. Rather than correctness, they aim at constructing a friendly and close relationship between the participants in the conversation.

Tipo de Trabajo Académico: Trabajo Fin de Grado

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