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Politeness strategies thesis writing

Apr 4, 2018

The Negative Politeness And Hedging Strategies English Language Essay

Using the model of the politeness principle, Myers (1989) pioneers the application of Brown and Levinsons’s (1987) politeness strategies onto written text. Brown and Levinsons (1987) propose that negative politeness is the strategies assuring the readers that the writers do not intend to infringe on their wants, their freedom to act. Most of the features that are considered just conventional in scientific text-hedging, impersonal construction. The assertion of general rules, can be reinterpreted as negative politeness devices (Myers. 1989:12).

Hedging can be described as a strategy by which speakers mitigate and soften the force of their utterances (Nikula, 1997). Hedging is politeness strategy where it marks a claim, or any other statement, as being provisional, pending acceptance in the literature and by the community, in other words, its acceptance by the readers.

Hedging, which is a negative politeness strategy, considers to be a tool of scientific practice and a discursive strategy in academic and professional writing. It is a classic strategy in making claims and communicating ideology. Lakoff (1972) who defines this concepts explain hedging as "words whose jobs is to make things fuzzy or less fuzzy".

Many researchers agree that hedging is useful. Skelton (1988:38) for instance, cannot see how language can function without hedging, as "language without hedging is language without life". Salager-Meyer (1998:296) mentions that this linguistic manoeuvring has indeed contributed towards a richer and deeper understanding of the device. Myers (1989) discovers the use of hedging was reserved for representation when there was uncertainty, as in the following example.

E.g.1 . . . Perhaps most appropriately called precursor mRNA (Messenger Roboneuclid Acid) . . .

(Source Myers 1992: 11)

Myers also mentions that hedging in textbooks are used to indicate "remaining uncertainty", for example:

E.g. 2: . . . they appear never to leave the nucleus . . .

(Source Myers 1992: 11)

A research by Darian also claims that "hedges are probably the clearest indicators of hypotheses" since hypotheses by its very nature are tentative. He finds in his research that, four out of eight patterns of hypotheses are found to contain hedges. Multiple hedges are also found and the most frequently used normally come in twos, although threes and fours are also found in the corpus.

Bald on Record

It can be said that politeness in written communication has been generally seen as a strategy used to create and maintain a friendly atmosphere for relations, to close distance between speakers and hearers and to mitigate the impact of impositions. Brown and Levinson (1987) have developed a theory of politeness to explain the nature of politeness phenomena in language. "S wants to do the FTA with maximum efficiency more than he wants to satisfy H’s face…" (BL. 1978: 95)"

In scientific articles, Myers (1998) finds a parallel situation happened when the imposition on the reader is so small it can be ignored, or where the demands for efficiency are so great that they override the demands of politeness. Although it seems more polite when author(s) of the journal use this device, however, according to Myers (1989:21), the choice to use bald on record is made when writers feel that sometimes demands for efficiency may "override the demands of politeness". In general, the authors made the choice to baldly state their claims with the purpose to be efficient and clear.

Off Record

In scientific texts such as economic journals, one might not expect to find any example off "off record" strategy because it is very rare and this kind of strategy is made only by implications, not in literal sense of the statement The purpose of this strategy is to record claim and an explicit statement is usually required to establish priority. But claim can be made in this indirect way only in unusual circumstances in which careful attention to the article is guaranteed, so that there is no implication.

If in the text of the journals we found phrasing which assume that the writers and the audiences share the same power as an obvious implication with no need to claim priority by using a "coy" and echoic word or a word inside quotation, it can be considered as off record claim. Generally, off record means that the speakers are removing themselves from any imposition whatsoever (Myers, 1989).

The Author-Audiences relationship in scientific text

Hunt (1995: 33) mentions in his paper that "a good piece of writing creates a clear picture of an audience, a writer and a relationship between them". Therefore, a good writing could possess a general knowledge of the different types of audience.

In scientific texts such as journals as part of academic writing, the role of readers/audiences is crucial to the development of arguments made by writers. Myers (1989: 4) defines two groups of who the "real" audience of scientific articles is. He concludes that there are two groups immediate to the community, to whom a research report is supposed to be present: Exoteric, or wider scientific community, to whom a research report is supposed to be addressed, and the Esoteric, or "immediate audience of individual researchers doing the same works, who in a sense, "overhear".

The second group of immediate audience are the ones, according to Myers, who "overhear" this distinction between the two groups is important, as he says:

The distinction is important because politeness involves displaying to the exoteric group proper respect for the face of members of the esoteric group…In other hand writer of scientific article, were writes in two roles; firstly as writer whose voice is in the text, and as researcher describing the work carried out (1989: 3-4).

As mentioned by Myers above, there are two different authors in scientific texts. The first type is the voice we take as speaking and the second type is the researcher whose work is described to give a clear description about that. Good writers are those who constantly keep the image of readers to always be present "as necessary partner in the act of writing. Finally, the author(s) "meet" their audience when a piece of written work is read.

The writers’ stance refer to the way they position themselves rhetorically when they communicate with their audience, that is, the readers. The image they project as writers are the result of the stance they take and the total impression that readers get from reading. The following elements help to determine the image projected by writers:

Writing Style




Spacing of text

Visual used

(Mayberry and Golden, 1990:7)

The above elements are related to the language, format and supports used by writers. Apart from these elements, writers improve their character by demonstrating that they made conscientious efforts to refer to the best authorities before presenting their arguments (Rotenberg, 1991: 15-16). Furthermore, they may identify themselves with the audience and share similar view. They would have also taken into consideration the interest and needs of others besides their own (Gong and Dragga, 1995: 404).

In the process of writing journals such as economics, writers act as their own internal readers while the editorial board judge the appropriate language and arguments for a particular audience. Winkler and McCuen (1994: 7) define this ability as the "basic aim of any instruction in rhetoric", in which writers are trained to developed a sixth sense in choosing the most appropriate and effective way to address a target audience. An ideal internal reader cum editor is one who is able to tailor a written text in format that the intended audience is "willing to hear out" (Winkler and McCuen, 1994:9).

In conclusion, readers or audiences play an important role in writers’ attempt to present a good piece of written discourse. The choice of language, the support used as well as the development of an argument rest on whom the writers are addressing whereas the success of a comprehensive argument is determined by the readers. Furthermore, this study also concludes that the writers need to be aware of who the intended audience are, and in the case, the readers. The outcome of this awareness is the selection of appropriate language and comprehensive strategies used to present their findings, claim or arguments.

Format of Academic Journal

The term "academic journal" applies to scholarly publications in all fields; this article discusses the aspects common to all academic field journals. Scientific journals and journals of the quantitative social sciences vary in form and function from journals of the humanities and qualitative social sciences. The function of a journal is to distribute knowledge.

Academic journal is a peer-reviewed periodical in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Academic journals serve as forums for the introduction and presentation for scrutiny of new research, and the critique of existing research. Content typically takes the form of articles presenting original research, article reviews and book reviews.

In academia, professional scholars typically make unsolicited submissions of their articles to academic journals. Upon receipt of a submitted article manuscript, the journal editor or editors determine whether to reject the submission outright or begin the process of peer-review. In the latter case, the submission becomes subject to anonymous peer-review by external scholars of the editor's choosing. The editors use the reviewers' opinions in determining whether to publish the article, return it to the author(s) for revision or to reject it. Even accepted articles are subjected to further, sometimes considerable, editing by journal’s editorial staff before they appear in printed or online media. Typically, because the process is lengthy, an accepted article will not be published and read by the audience immediately as the process might extend for several months after its initial submission.

The journal audience can be grouped into two main categories, which are before and after published. The first category is the primary audience, who is the editorial board. They do the first screening on mostly on the body and the language of the paper, not its content. The editorial board or the journal staff has to ensure that certain criteria or requirements are met before it is sent to the expert or consulting editors for peer-review. In general, the editorial board only checks the completeness of the requirement based on the guideline.

The other group of individuals is the peer-reviewers or consulting editors who act as "referees", and they vary according to each journal's editorial practice. Typically, they are no fewer than two and usually there are at least three external peer-reviewers for an article. As stated earlier, they are specialists in their field and it is their evaluation that will determine the outcome of the research. The main options suggested after consultation are:

Accepted with minor correction

Accepted with major correction


( Journal of Bernas’s Guideline)

Accepted with minor correction means that the paper successfully pass the assessment and qualified to be printed out, while the second option which is accepted with major correction means that the paper will be returned back to the author to be corrected as soon as possible and examine again by the consulting boards. The last option, which is rejected means that the paper is not qualified to be printed with particular reasons.

The second category of audience is the public. It can be categorized into three; the first category, general audience, is made up of people with different age groups, sex and ethnic origin who have a variety of tastes, interest, political affiliations and religious beliefs. The second category is defined as special audiences and it is grouped according to the type of reading materials that cater for specific topics. The third category is the specific audience, who may actually be one or few people intended as target audience of written texts, such as letters, memos or journal.

Similar categorization may be applied to the audiences of written text, that is the readers. Therefore, based on these categories, consulting editors or the "referees" may be identified as specific audience since they form the key readers of this genre.

2.5 Summary

In this chapter, the researcher started this section with explanation of discourse and discourse analysis as the approaches. This study concludes that, the term "discourse" analysis is a mammoth-like interpretation. Thus, it mainly refers to the linguistic of language usage in social context, specifically on the analysis of occurring connected speech or written discourse.

The next section in this chapter is the discussion of politeness theory which covers the concept of politeness itself and the claims for universality. Also, there are diverse criticism or modification of one of the elements of the model, focusing on Myers’s room of thinking in his study "Politeness in Scientific Text" (1989) adapted from Brown and Levinson’s theory in their book "Politeness, Some Universals in Language Usage" (1978). They have developed a theory of politeness to explain the nature of politeness phenomena in various languages. Furthermore, in the last part of this chapter, it discusses about author-audience relationship in scientific journal or to whom a research report is supposed to be presented.

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