Minggu, 12 Juni 2011

SPEECH FUNCTIONS, POLITENESS AND CROSS-CULTURAL COMMUNICATION

Posted by ida ayu putu oka sulaksmyati 05.18, under | 1 comment

We adapt our talk to suit our audience and talk differently to children, customers and colleagues. We use language differently in formal and casual contexts. The purpose of talk will also affect its form. One relevant factor is politeness.
Polite is often a matter of selecting linguistic form which express the appropriate degree of social distance or which recognize relevant status or power differences. Rules of polite behavior differ from one speech community to another linguistic politeness is culturally determined.
The Function of Speech
Boss : Good morning sue. Lovely day.
Secretary : Yes it’s beautiful. Makes you wonder what we’re doing here
doesn’t.
Boss : Mm, that’s right. Look I wonder if you could possibly sort this lot
out by ten. I need them for a meeting.
Secretary : Yes sure. No problem.
Boss : Thanks that’s great.
This dialogue is typical of many everyday interactions in that it serves both an affective ( or social ) function, and a referential ( or informative ) function.
There are a number of ways of categorizing the functions of speech. The following list has proved a useful one in sociolinguistic research.
1. Expressive, utterances express the speaker’s feelings, e.g. I’m feeling great today.
2. Directive, utterances attempt to get someone to do something, e.g. Clear the tape.
3. Referential, utterances provide information, e.g. At the third stroke it will be three o’clock precisely.
4. Metalinguistic, utterance comment on language itself, e.g. ‘hegemony’ is not a common word.
5. Poetic, utterances focus on aesthetic features of language, e.g. a poem, an ear-catching motto, a rhyme, peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
6. Phatic, utterances express solidarity and empathy with others, e.g. Hi, how are you, lovely day isn’t it!.
They seem to be very fundamental functions of any interaction of language, perhaps because they derive from the basic components of any interaction – the speaker ( expressive), the addressee ( directive ) and the message ( referential ).
Directives
Directives are concerned with getting people to do things. The speech acts which express directive force vary in strength. Polite attempts to get people to do something tend to use interrogatives or declaratives, as the following examples illustrate.
Sit down IMPERATIVE
You sit down YOU IMPERATIVE
Could you sit down? INTERROGATIVE WITH MODAL VERB
Sit down will you? INTERROGATIVE WITH TAG
Won’t you sit down? ITERROGATIVE WITH NEGATIVE MODAL
I want you to sit down. DECLARATIVE
I’d like you to sit down. DECLARATIVE
You’d be more comfortable DECLARATIVE
siting down.

There are many ways of expressing this directive. We can say in general the interrogatives and declaratives are more polite than the imperatives, a great deal depends on intonation, tone of voice and context.
People who are close friends or intimates use more imperatives, for instance. Example below were all produced within a family, were (almost!) all said without rancour, and caused no offence.
Example:
(a) Roll over.
(b) Shut up you fool.
(c) Set the table, Robbie.
(d) Wash your hands for tea, children.
(e) Turn that blessed radio down.
Where status differences are clearly marked and accepted, superiors tend to use imperatives to subordinates. Teachers often use imperatives to pupils.
Example 6
(a) Open your books at page 32
(b) Shut the door
(c) Stop talking please.
Teachers can use very direct expressions of their meaning because of their high status relative to their pupils.
Formality and status may be very relevant in choosing an appropriate directive form. Another factor which is relevant to the form of a directive is the routines or reasonableness of the task.
In general, imperatives are used between people who know each other well or to subordinates. Interrogatives and declaratives, including hints, tend to be used between those who are less familiar with each other, or where there is some reason to feel the task being requested is not routine.
Politeness and Address Forms
It is difficult to learn because it involves understanding not just the language, but also the social and cultural values of the community. We often don’t appreciate just how complicated it is, because we tend to think of politeness simply as a matter of saying please and thank you in the right places.
These two dimensions also provide the basis for a distinction between two different types of politeness.
• Positive politeness is solidarity oriented it emphasizes shared attitudes and values. When the boss suggests that a subordinate should use first name (FN) to her, this is a positive politeness move, expressing solidarity and minimizing status differences.
• Negative politeness pays people respect and avoids intruding on them. Negative politeness involves expressing oneself appropriately in terms of social distance and respecting status difference. Using title + last name (TLN) to your superiors, and to older people that you don’t know well, are further examples of the expression of negative politeness.
Being polite may also involve the dimensions of formality. In a formal situation the appropriate way of talking to your brother will depend on your roles in the context.
Linguistic Politeness in Different Cultures
Anyone who has travelled outside their own speech community is likely to have had some experience of miscommunication based on cultural differences. Often these related to different assumptions deriving from different ‘normal’ environments.

For example:
A Thai student in Britain, for example, reported not being able to understand what her hostess meant when she asked on which day the week would you like to have your bath? Coming from a very hot country with a ‘water-oriented culture’, the notion that she might have a bath only once a week was very difficult to grasp.
Learning another language usually involves a great deal more that learning the literal meaning of the words, how to put them together, and how to pronounce them. We need to know what they mean in the cultural context in which they are normally used. And that involves some understanding of the cultural and social norms of their user.
We talk automatically make many unconscious sociolinguistic assumptions about what people mean when they ask a particular question or make a statement. When we ask someone to dinner, we expect something more elaborate than This is Dr Kennedy. When we ask someone to dinner we assume they will know the norms concerning appropriate dress, time of arrival, and possible topics for discussion during the evening.
Greeting
In different cultures each of these questions is perfectly acceptable as part of a normal greeting routine. They are formulas, and the expected answer is ritualistic. Just as a detailed blow-by-blow description of the state of your cold would be unexpected and inappropriate in response to how are you?, so the South-East Asian questioner does not expect a minutes and specific account of your intended journey and destination. Greeting formulas universally serve an affective function of establishing non-threatening contact and rapport, but their precise content is clearly culture specific.

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