Power in politeness
A pragmatic study of the linguistic concept of politeness and change in social relations of power in Wole Soyinka’s The Beatification of Area Boy
The nature of most human societies, where the aspirations and desires of people are never completely fulfilled, and where such aspirations always conflict with those of other persons, presupposes a conscious effort by persons to strive for the recognition of and acceptance of their goals. They also crave the freedom to aspire towards the realization of their dreams. Because human relations and communication are conveyed principally by linguistic vehicles, much of the struggle for power is also expressed through language. It is shown in this study how a social miscreant occupying the lowest rung of the social class structure, effects a change in power relations with society’s top notchers through the deployment of the linguistic concept of politeness in dramatic dialogue, from which we draw conclusions that may be reflective of real life.