On Apologising in Negative and Positive Politeness Cultures

ORCID logoEva Ogiermann | University of Portsmouth
ISBN 9789027254351 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
ISBN 9789027288899 | EUR 99.00 | USD 149.00
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This book investigates how speakers of English, Polish and Russian deal with offensive situations. It reveals culture-specific perceptions of what counts as an apology and what constitutes politeness. It offers a critical discussion of Brown and Levinson's theory and provides counterevidence to the correlation between indirectness and politeness underlying their theory. Their theory is applied to two languages that rely less heavily on indirectness in conveying politeness than does English, and to a speech act that does not become more polite through indirectness. An analysis of the face considerations involved in apologising shows that in contrast to disarming apologies, remedial apologies are mainly directed towards positive face needs, which are crucial for the restoration of social equilibrium and maintenance of relationships. The data show that while English apologies are characterised by a relatively strong focus on both interlocutors’ negative face, Polish apologies display a particular concern for positive face. For Russian speakers, in contrast, apologies seem to involve a lower degree of face threat than they do in the other two languages.
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series, 191] 2009.  x, 296 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“The book as a whole provides a theoretically-motivated and thorough comparison of the speech act of apologizing in English, Polish, and Russian. It makes an important contribution both to knowledge about apologies in these specific languages, as well as to theoretical debates in cross-cultural pragmatics. Incorporation of insights from the field of intercultural communication, discussion of the cultural values that inform speech act behavior, and qualitative analysis of apology realization are some clear strengths of the volume.”
“Ogiermann’s work is brilliant. [...] In addition to the solid theoretical foundation on which the study is based, the meticulously conducted study resulted in a large corpus of data from all three languages. [...] This work, then, is a valuable contribution to the interrelated fields of pragmatics, cross-cultural pragmatics, and linguistic politeness. The rich data and detailed analysis in two understudied languages provide important baseline data for future studies. In addition to being a must-read for any researcher in the above-listed specializations, it will serve as an excellent introduction to pragmatic theory for graduate students getting started in the field.”
“The book is a serious contribution to cross-linguistic studies in a variety of aspects. The author succeeds in reviving Brown and Levinson’s theory by attempting to apply it for the analysis of politeness strategies in languages which seem to disprove its underlying principles. Ogiermann’s study is both insightful and illuminating, offering those interested in cross-cultural pragmatics impressive material on two Slavic languages which have not been given sufficient linguistic attention in what Eastern European pragmatists call ‘Western’ linguistics. And most importantly, it proves that contrary to what is generally believed by Anglo-Saxon linguistics (including Brown and Levinson’s theory) which views apologies as negative face strategies, Ogiermann’s study offers ample evidence for the central role of positive face in the performance of remedial apologies, a finding which yet again attempts to break away from the ethnocentric character of cross-linguistic research. For that reason alone, the book is a valuable and long-awaited contribution to the discussion on politeness strategies across languages.”
“This book has merits for varied audiences of different levels of expertise in linguistics and culture studies. [...] Ogiermann’s research is evidently clearly defined and well documented, with her quantitative data meticulously analysed. [...] Eva Ogiermann’s book is a relevant must-read, which offers seminal claims and boosts motivation for further investigations.”
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Main BIC Subject

CFG: Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
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U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2009030324 | Marc record