Investigate The Employment Of Politeness Strategies


02 Nov 2017

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Chapter 5

5.1 Introduction

Brown and Levinson (1978) said that a precondition to all human interactions is to cooperation which, among other ways can be established and maintained by polite language. Polite language is governed by the social dimensions of power, distance and absolute ranking of imposition within a society". In this present study, the researcher have examined the use of politeness strategies in two different economic journals from local and international, to see whether there are similarities or different among economist from those selected journals when they write their report.

5.2 Summary of Findings

The aim of this study was to investigate the employee of politeness strategies in two different journals. The result of the present study shows that there was only a small number of differences in the use and production of politeness strategies and tactics between the Malaysian Journal of Economic Study published by Malaysian Economic Association and The Economic Growth published by American Economic Association. This was unexpected result because some of the previous studies show that there are significant differences in some cultures or corpus study taken before in politeness research (E.g. Maier 1992, al. 1998, Yli-Jokipi 1994, Paarlahti 1998). However, it must be kept in mind that generalization cannot be made because of the limited amount of data.

Further, under some limitation this present study still tries to conclude based on the collection, codification and analysis of the data during this study. As mentioned earlier this present study based its framework on the politeness strategies theory propose in Greg Myers work (1989) that inline with theory proposed by Brown and Levinson (1987), as listed on politeness strategies proposed in both theories as a theoretical framework. This present study concludes that both MJES as a well as EG employee explicitly; positive politeness, negative politeness, bald on record, also off record politeness strategies. This present study tries to summarize the finding of tactics and patterns based on four (4) politeness strategies employee in MJES and EG economic journals.

The analysis of this present study found that positive politeness was the most frequently strategy used than others politeness strategies such as negative politeness and off record, or bald on record. In positive politeness strategies category, it was found ten (10) tactics that employee by JWs in their writing such as; tactic of supposing or asserting shared, view, goal and interest. The present study notices, that this tactic was the most frequently used in both economic journals. This tactic usually appears in the beginning of the introduction section in both journals, where the writers identify a research topic or area as a trend or common interest to appeal to the academic-scientific community. This strategy also occurs in the section of results and methods when the writer wants to stress a view or an assumption, activity and approach as something the writer shares with the readers so as to justify their action. Next, the second largest numbers of used tactic in positive politeness strategy was Using In Group Markers. This present study notice, it was used in the use of slogans, jargon or special technical terminologies, and mostly found in the sections of introduction, method and result. This tactic employ to shows a relationship of shared knowledge, background and values between esoteric researcher or to convey in-group membership. The third largest of number used in positive politeness was the tactic of using pronoun to stress solidarity, it was among the most popular usage tactic in the positive politeness strategies in economic journals. The use of this subjective or possessive "pronoun" such as we, our, us, was very abundant especially in EG journal, this result seem to be correspond with previous study that said American writers tend to impersonalize both the writer and reader by referring to company name, using the plural or employing passive. (YLi-Jokipi 1994:251).

The others tactics in positive politeness namely; (4) seeking agreement/avoid disagreement, (5) Offering and promising, (6) Labelling, (7) Giving reasons, (8) Giving gift/credit, (9) emotional response and (10) Humility, also used by authors of MJES as well as EG writers but the number of samples appear in the articles was not to significant compare those 3 tactics above.

This present study also found that negative politeness strategy in economics journal employee six (6) categories of tactics listed under BL’s theory namely; (1) Hedging (2) Being pessimistic, (3) Impersonalize, (4) Nominalize, (5) Indicating reluctance, (6) Stating the FTA as a General rules. Further, the tactic of Hedging was used in different rhetorical contexts within a scientific article to convey persuasive effect and enhance the knowledge claims of the author of both journals. The tactic using Impersonalize was employ by both of JWs in their writing to phrase the FTA or to redress the FTA, this was indicating JWs does not want to offense or impinge audiences negative face. Next the third most frequently used tactic was the tactic of being pessimistic, it was used to express doubt to the possibility of event, it was realized in subjunctive statements, indicating the hypothetical of a statement. The rest tactics namely (4) Nominalize, (5) Indicating reluctance, (6) Stating the FTA as a General rules was also found used significantly but less frequent than those three tactics mentioned above.

Other strategy employed in MJES and EG economic journals was, bald on record politeness strategy, this tactic was not to popular; compared with positive, and negative its only 106 times found used in the journals. The present study found two tactics listed under this strategy namely the use of warning and advice statements. Both of these tactics were realized in imperative sentences that tend to be more tasks oriented, and efficient.

Off record strategies also found employ in both journals but JWs from MJES was found using more tactics that EG writers, but basically they were shared the same tactics, except MJES writer employed the tactic of the use of metaphor, the tactic found employed in the articles were ; (1) Use Rhetorical Questions (2) Coyness, (3) Understatement and (4) metaphor. Both of the journal employ these tactic to redress the impact of imposition by let the audiences interpret the situation or phenomena by themselves.

The findings and explanation in the above section on the 4 politeness strategies namely; positive and negative, bald on record also off record politeness strategies employed in both economic journals remains us that remains us to what and Brown and Levinson (1987) theory that it is possible to define generic types of politeness strategies to explain and predict the adoption of politeness in oral or written discourse. And within this study, the researcher proved what BL mention above that politeness strategies could be extent to analyze beyond conversational data such as economic journal.

Furthermore, this present study conclude that the employ of politeness strategies in economic journal writing exists in explicit way, JWs use many strategies and tactics that at a glance appear was to be objective and impersonal, in fact politeness in written communication such as in journal has been generally seen by the economist as a strategy used to create and maintain a friendly atmosphere for relations, to close distance between authors and audiences and to mitigate the impact of impositions. Moreover to support that claim above, a results from Myers (1989) in his paper could be notice as a reflection regarding, he discovered that politeness strategies are used explicitly in scientific research articles. Those reference above lead us into a conclusion in this study that in amount of number and types of politeness tactics employed by JWs in both journals seem to correspond with the demand of academia.

5.3 Modified Version of Greg Myers and BL in Economic Text

Tables 5.1 present a modified frame work for explaining strategy choice among economist in economic journal based on the pattern found in both selected journals. This framework is based on Greg Myers’s "room of thinking" in studying the "norms of scientific culture" in scientific text, that inline with Brown and Levinson proposed in their book; universal politeness theory. Though their model to large extent has helped in formulating the formula or this present study could say, completing the puzzle of politeness strategy written text, especially in economic text.

Table 5.1

Modified version of Greg Myer’s and BL Model of politeness

in written text used by Economist



Positive Politeness

Supposing or asserting shared interest, goal, view

Seeking agreement and avoiding disagreement

Offering and promising

Giving reasons

Giving gift/credit


Using pronoun to stress solidarity

Emotional response

Using in group marker


Negative Politeness


Being pessimistic

Indicating reluctance


Stating the FTA as a general rule


Bald on Record



Off Record

Use Rhetorical Questions




5.4 Recommendation and Suggestion for Future Research

As mention in the previous chapter, this study is just a modest attempt to look for universal politeness pattern in journal writers-audiences relationship or interaction. It is indeed modest because of the small sample size of this large discourse community, and as already mentions earlier that the generalization made on this study under certain limitations.

This study only observed the linguistic pattern of the use politeness strategies on JWs-audiences in the economic journal both local and international. Sex and specific authors’ background have not been highlighted also the gap between JWs and audiences have not been fully discussed. The motivation behind this study was the researcher wanted to investigate something related with economic field in discourse context. The researcher also wanted to show that English student can study something else rather than the basic if we are studying language such grammar, speaking, reading or teaching technique. For further study I suggest to investigate something that would be real use related with economic field. Such as company letters or authentic industrial material from overseas company and compare it with the local one.


Brown and Levinson introduce the contextual variables social distance, power relation, and ranking of the imposition to calculate the weight of the face threat that is redressed by the strategy. Linguistic politeness not only was applied by many people via verbal communication but also could be extended beyond it to include written materials in terms of the interactions of the authors and audiences in written texts such as economic journals.

This present study showed that politeness strategies as listed in BL’s book were found explicitly in the economic journals. In conclusions, JWS or journal writers employ those strategies and tactics in order to create and maintain a friendly atmosphere for relations, to close distance between authors and audiences and to mitigate the impact of impositions, that inline line with the demands of the academic community that expects scientific language to be objective and formal.

Furthermore, this present study also would like underlie that the audiences or readers play an important role in a writers attempt to present a polite piece of written discourse on the choice of language as well as the development of argument and claim on whom the writers is addressing.


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