Linguistic politeness across Arabic, French, and English languages
Keywords:Politeness, Linguistic markers, Linguistic Pragmatics, Lexicons comparison, Stylistic devices, Connotations, Euphemisms
AbstractThis is a comparative linguistic politeness study that investigates the range of linguistic choices employed by three communities of speakers to maintain sound interaction. Even though first-order politeness is common to all languages and is a cross-cultural aspect, there are language variations and linguistic characteristics that are inherent to languages and that make expressing politeness easier and simpler in certain languages as compared to others. The objective of this research study is to compare/contrast the linguistic politeness markers of three languages: Arabic, French, and English because very few studies highlighted the lingua-pragmatic variations among three linguistic repertoires of three cultures at a time. The study probes into a comparison of the linguistic features (lexical, syntactic, stylistic choices, connotations and metaphors) and the pragmatic features that reflect the different levels of politeness in the three languages. In this analysis, the study relies on Brown and Levinson’s theory of politeness and on the language parallels. When comparing these three languages, several linguistic variations were detected in the analysis of the ethos of the three languages. English lack a grammar system that codes social ranking and French and English speakers usually recur to negative politeness strategies because they keep away from transgressing the personal life and the intimacy of the interlocutors. Hence, they select linguistic devices that increase the distance between the participants in a conversation. Arabic speakers manipulate the rhythm, rhyme of words and other phonological features to distance themselves from the bad denotations of face threatening expressions by replacing them with figurative metaphorical expressions. The main factor that this research underlines is the linguistic nature and the language repertoire of the three communities of speakers. Arabic is superfluous with fixed politeness formulas. On the other hand, French and English use a wide range of stylistic and syntactic devices to express politeness. In the three languages, speakers use slang, colloquial, and vernacular language to convey words with negative connotations especially when they cooperate together in the speech exchange and when they claim to have a common ground, and this is a proof of the universality of Brown and Levinson’s theory of politeness.
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