The influence of the addressers’ and the addressees’ gender identities on the addressers’ linguistic politeness behavior: Some evidence from criticisms in Taiwanese media discourse

Chihsia Tang


People’s power and status can be manifested through the language they use. It was generally perceived that men’s speeches are more assertive and direct than women’s because of men’s higher social status in the societies. Yet, studies have argued that there should be no difference in terms of men and women’s linguistic politeness behaviors if they are in the same power position; instead, the addressees’gender is the critical determinant to the addressers’linguistic performances. This research provided some evidence from evaluative communications in TV reality talent shows to further verify whether or not the addressers’ and the addressees’ gender id entities are significantly correlated to the addressers’ linguistic politeness behavior, focusing specifically on their use of mitigating strategies for criticism amelioration. The current analysis referred to Brown and Levinson’s(1987) politeness theory and face notion. Results manifested that it is the addressers’ gender instead of the addressees’ gender that was related to the addressers’ communication style in this particular situational context. Specifically, male judges utilized more mitigating utterances than female judges did. The major implication of the findings is that the functions of politeness devices that speakers perceive and the situational information of the speech context leave greater influences on the addressers’ politeness behavior than the gender of their addressees.

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