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Comparative Study Of Politeness Strategies English Language Essay


Over the last three decades, politeness strategies have become one of the most active area of research in spoken and written discourse. This phenomenon began when Goffman published “On face work” in 1955 and other classical studies such as Lakoff (1973, 1977), Leech (1983) and Brown & Levinsons (1987), who conducted extensive studies on politeness. These studies indicate that linguistic politeness is generally associated with social behaviour to avoid conflicts.

The past few years the application of politeness studies has been extended beyond the verbal communication to include written material to engage conflict-free communication between writers-audience, started in 1989 when Myers published his article “the pragmatics of politeness in scientific articles” since then many scholars extended the concept of politeness strategies onto written context such as; current research issues (Kasper: 1990) business letter (Maier: 1992), written business discourse (Pilegaard: 1997), scientific text (Kwok: 1997), written persuasion (Cherry: 1988), thesis writing (Faridah Noor: 2000), and research article (Dahl :2009).

Myers (1989) in his study found that the model proposed by Brown & Levinson (1987) was applicable in how to interpret scientific culture found in scientific writing. Brown and Levinson (1987) found in their study four (4) categories of politeness strategies. These are proposed as universal as the striking parallels in politeness devices between three unrelated languages (Tzeltal, Tamil and English) were found. While politeness may be expressed differently in one culture to another, the basic hierarchy of politeness strategies is not a culture specific. (Brown & Levinsons : 1987)

Even though the majority study of the past studies in politeness strategies are closely related with verbal communication context. Many studies recently showed that it could also be extended onto written context, and somehow the politeness strategies in written discourse in line with the demands of the academic community that expects scientific language to be objective and formal.

This present study is interested to study the kinds of politeness strategies find in economic journal writing as another field in written discourse. What makes economics special is that economics is consisted of the combination of “soft” science research issues related to human behaviour and the “hard” science mathematics economic models. The model represents the interaction between human being and market under specific conditions. Dahl (2009: 2). The other reason is how economist presents their thought in the research paper they write. Moreover, by using Myers’s (1989) study that in line to what Brown and Levinson had proposed in their study. This present study tries to focus on the politeness strategies employed in economic journal articles. Concerning none of the past studies deeply focused to study the academic journals especially in economic field and comparing between local and international economic journals.

By viewing that chances the researcher hopes that this present study able to contribute to the existing pool of knowledge on politeness strategies used in academic writing, particularly which in the writing of economic journal articles of two identified economic journals.

Statement of the Problem

Brown and Levinson (1987) construct a system to explain the nature of politeness phenomena in language. The major concept of politeness theory is an arrangement of politeness strategies along a continuum from least polite to most polite. Previous studies had shown that politeness strategies not only applied by many people via verbal communication but also through the medium of written material. Although, Politeness in both social and linguistic studies has shown a phenomenon of interest in the past decades, many past studies choose to draw on conversational data. Many scholars do not realize that politeness model can be extended beyond the verbal communication to include written materials.

The extension of politeness models to some genres of scientific written texts such as economic journal could contribute to explain the application of politeness strategies. To identify sort of politeness strategies employed in economic journal somehow could be an interesting also a complex field to study as Holmes (2001) says that Economic field is a prototypical of the social sciences. To engage in this discourse in a meaningful and effective manner requires skilful handling of textual strategies. Moreover, the use of politeness strategies in economic journals by particular people from different culture background, age and economic expertise when making a claim, maintain face or employed other kinds of politeness strategies in their paper is an interesting matter to study.

Based on that statement above the main purposes of this study beyond the limits of this paper, to give an exhaustive overview of politeness-related research are to identify sort of politeness strategies that employed and analyze the politeness strategies in economic journal articles of one local and one international economic journals selected for this study.

Objectives of the Study

In recent years there has been a steady increase in interest and research into economics discourse by both economists and linguists which has spawned an expanding body of work. the present study undertakes the task of looking at the use of the politeness strategies employed in economic journal and compare between one local and one international economic journals by proposing the objectives below;

To investigate the use of politeness strategies in economics text

To compare the use of politeness strategies in a local and international economic journals

Research Questions

The present study aims to answer the following questions:

What kinds of politeness strategies are employed in economic text?

In what ways are the politeness strategies found to be similar or different in local or international economic journals?

The present study also proposes that it would be beneficial for the journal writers to know where they stand in the academic discourse community as this awareness can assists them in planning the strategies used to present their findings as new knowledge claims.

Significance of the study

Since the early 1980s, the discussion of various controversial issues in the economics discourse community has led to increasing debate among concerned economists about the ways that they communicate with each other, as well as with non-economists. In this exploratory study, the researcher chooses to focus on the existence of politeness strategies in economic journals. Hopefully this present study would contribute towards obtaining a set of politeness strategies in economic journals. The collection of strategies would encompass a sampling of strategies used by journal writer(s) within a span of six (6) years latest from the field of economy.

Moreover this present study hopes to enhance the understanding of academic researchers, who are interested in the area of politeness strategies, especially in the use of politeness strategies in economic journals and to show the kinds of politeness strategies employed in both local and international economic journals. Furthermore, understanding the kinds of politeness strategies in written texts, especially in economic journals, could be useful when politeness strategies are employed in other genres in order to fit with the demanding of formality and objectivity of the academic writing.

This study also hopes to clarify many ways that the economists use language to express themselves in a polite manner and to help the public to understand the politeness style of writing by the economist in written texts. In addition, the specific aim of this present study is also to show that there is an increasing awareness of the nature of economics discourse by both applied linguists and economists. To achieve the purposes above, this research studies two economic journals, one local and one international, published by Malaysian and American economic associations.

Scope and Limitation of The Study

This present study will limit its data from selected journals released by local and international economic associations to find out politeness strategies employed by the economists in two identified economic journals, namely Malaysia Journal of Economic Studies and Journal of Economic Growth, released by the Malaysian Economic Association and the American Economic Association respectively.

The articles from these journals were chosen from the six years latest issues, starting from 2004 to 2009. This study limits its scope only on the contents of the articles. The areas of mathematical languages, formula, as well as footnotes in the articles will be not included as parts of the analysis. This study also does not attempt to look at the differences in the style of writing choice of politeness strategies based on gender, age or ethnic background, and strategies used by journal writers over a period of time. This research also tries not to focus on particular specific areas where some economists and linguists often argue about, but more on general issues of economic content in these journals, that the researcher feels provide examples of the existence of politeness strategies

1.5 Summary

The focus of the present study is to investigate the use of politeness strategies in economic journals. It undertakes the task to identify and analyze politeness strategies employed in the articles and compares two economic journals local and international publication namely Malaysia Journal of Economic Studies and Journal of Economic Growth by using the theory of politeness from Brown & Levinson (1978) and Myers (1989).

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