Although the politeness mainly is considered in cross-cultural andinterlanguage studies as a main point in indirect speech acts, but this theoryis still developing. Therefore, it seems that there is necessity to a short description of the most influential models of politeness theorywhich was adopted as a framework theory in the current research.
Leech’s Politeness Principle (1983)may be seen as a continuation of Grice’s Cooperative Principle in the way itprovided a model of politeness within conversation. While in contrast to Grice,Leech attempted to explain, what the real means of indirect speech act inpeople’s interactions .Since, he proposed that some independent variables “social distance, authority,costs and benefits of an act” which indirectly described the notion of context.
Since, he proposed that some independent variables “social distance, authority,costs and benefits of an act” which indirectly describe the notion of context.Social distance refers to the social relationship between interactants thatsocial relationship can be that of closeness (e.g.
family members and closefriends) or distance (e.g. unknown people). Authority contains factors such asspeaker and hearer social position within age and gender. Costs and benefits ofan act infer the effect of the act produced by the speaker on the hearer (ascited in Šubertová, 2013).According to Lakoff who stated thatmake yourself clear and be polite are two main principles governinglinguistic and non-linguistic interactions which first one is influenced of Grice’scooperative principle and maxims, whereas the second one works by the threerules of politeness. i) formality (do notimpose); ii) hesitancy (allow the addressee his options); iii) equality ofcamaraderie (act as though and addressee were equal/make him feel good).
Lakoff is concerenedthat context influences the choice of maxims in the process of communication,in addition, she was more interested in crucial factors “status differencesbetween interlocutors, degree of familiarity between speaker and hearer, andthe culture in which the utterance is made” to produce polite or impoliteutterances within contextual conditions (as cited in Schauer, 2009, p. 10).In politeness theory that is adoptedfrom Grice’s cooperative principle, Brown and Levinson (1987) attempted toclarify Austin’s (1962) classification of utterances, which related to thesocial functions of language within interaction bearing and speaker’srationality in conversation. Brown and Levinson defined the notion of face with”the aspects of face as basic wants, which every member knows every othermember desires, and which in general, it is in the interests of every member topartially satisfy” (1987, p. 62).
As well as, face depends on whether thespeaker choices to perform a face threatening act (FTA) or face saving act(FSA). An FTA is defined as “those acts that by their nature run contrary tothe face wants of the addressee and/or the speaker” and a FSA involving attenuation in thepossible threat that may use as positive or negative politeness strategies(Brown & Levinson, 1987, p. 65).Positive politeness is defined asaimed “to save positive face by demonstrating closeness and solidarity,appealing to friendship, making other people feel good, and emphasizing thatboth speakers have a common goal” (Cutting, 2008, p. 48). Contrarily, negativepoliteness is described as functionally minimizing the FTA’s impositionconsequences on the addressee.
That minimization in the imposition is achievedby showing distance between speaker and hearer, avoiding imposition orpresuming, and giving the hearer’s options (Cutting, 2008).At the same vein, Brown and Levinsonprovided five categories within which the speaker can choose when performing aFTA. These five categories are those of social distance, relative power, andabsolute ranking of impositions in the particular culture.
The consideration ofthese three factors will let speakers to do the act on-record or off-record.The selection of the off-record strategy by the speaker means that the communicativeintention is not clearly communicated. This strategy is suitable for thespeaker who wants to do an FTA, but by no means directly addressing to thehearer and thus, leaving the responsibility to the hearer to interpret theutterance as an FTA or not. This off-record strategy implies an indirect use oflanguage and the flouting of Gricean maxims of efficient communication. That fact leads to conversationalimplicatures, which gives the hearer the chance to interpret or evenmisinterpret the indirectly uttered message; moreover, this interpretation isalso context dependent. Otherwise, if thespeaker decides to do the FTA on record, there are two possibilities: doing itwithout redressive action, badly or with redressive action by using positive politenessstrategies or negative politeness strategies. The FTA without redressive action means following Grice’smaxims, then conveying efficient communication by uttering direct messages.
Brown and Levinson (1987)differentiated between the use of positive and negative politeness strategiesto achieve redressive action. They suggested three main positive politenessstrategies, which lead to fifteen different strategies to achieve an on-recordFTA with redressive action (p. 102). Furthermore, they also provided fivepremises to achieve negative politeness: Be direct, do not presume/assume, donot fore to hearer, communicate speaker’s want to not impinge on hearer, andredress other wants of hearer’s derivative from negative face.