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19 Jun 2017

An Exploration Of Linguistic Politeness Phenomena As A Reflection Of The Interplay Between Language And Power

Mohammad Halili, 2009
Flinders University


This is to scrutinize how different weight of social power of the speakers can lead to distinctive linguistic behaviour. Brown and Levinson’s seminal work (1987) on the universality of linguistic politeness has been the subject for debate. A number of researches have affirmed the existing notions stating that, in contrast to participants with lower social status, the more powerful person, the more the room they have to practice politeness. Utilizing the qualitative approach, this investigation critically analysed two video recordings on YouTube in different settings and contexts. Text 1 refers to The Prime Minister is Confronted about Lies by a Voter and Julian Assange Grills the Prime Minister on a Television Programme is for Text 2. From the selected source of the data, the analysis mainly concerns on four fundamental issues: overtly expressed opposition and hedging, turn taking, topic control, and non-verbal communication. What both texts show are somewhat surprising; lower status of the participants indicate such blatant attempts to disagreement, overlap of the conversation, controlling the floor, and unflavoured signals of communication. The practice of power is absent indicated by the use of mitigations and hedging to express her actual thought played by the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard. The power is thus a matter for negotiation between speakers and interlocutors.

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