Cross-Cultural Study of Politeness Strategies
Daria Bahtina, unpublished BA thesis
Human communication faces numerous inaccuracies and misunderstandings due to divergences between different systems. The origin might lie in the fact that the representatives of the groups belong to divergent discourse systems. It is not difficult to imagine why there might be tensions between people with Western and Eastern cultural backgrounds, seniors and juniors, men and women, superiors and subordinates.
The aim of the study is to investigate complimenting as one of the aspects reflecting strategies that vary culturally. According to anecdotal evidence, some groups of people give compliments generously as flattery, whilst others are reluctant to word even praise. This study will attempt to find out why this should be the case by comparing Americans, British and Russians. The aim of the study is to analyze complimenting behavior from a particular point of view, namely in the superior-subordinate situation.
The first part of the work introduces the main theoretical concepts pertinent to the study and gives a general overview of politeness strategies that are believed to be true more or less universally. In this, the study draws mainly from the works by Scollon and Scollon (1995) and Brown and Levinson (1987).
The following part is a comparison between the relevant cultures outlined through a discussion of works by the researchers who deal with American, British and Russian politeness behaviors. Finally, the analysis based on theory and a survey conducted by the author is presented in order to reveal the actual situation and contemporary shifting tendencies.
The originality of the study lies in the fact that previous research in the field of comparing these particular cultures in respect to their complimenting behavior is scanty and insufficient. On the basis of these factors this work might be presented as an attempt to raise the issue that should be dealt with more thoroughly.