To claim or not to claim? An analysis of the politeness of self-evaluation in a corpus of French corporate brochures

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    Abstract

    Although numerous studies have examined the way in which politeness operates in spoken exchanges, relatively few have focused on politeness in written language. This study adopts an interactional view of written texts and, drawing on Brown and Levinson's (1978, 1987) model, investigates the pragmatics of politeness in a corpus of French-language corporate brochures. One of the most important categories of face-threatening act (FTA) in such brochures is the making by the writer (the company) of self-evaluative claims - claims which praise the company's abilities, qualities, products, etc. To commit such an FTA 'politely', the writer may opt either for an off-record strategy or an on-record strategy with appropriate face redress. In the corpus there is evidence that his/her choice may be influenced by the position of the claim within the text, since this, it is suggested, affects the 'weightiness' of the claim. This is explained in terms of the evolving writer-reader relationship, particularly the variables of power and distance. The evolution of the text user relationship would appear, therefore, to be one of the key factors influencing the writer's choice of politeness strategy and hence the way in which s/he makes strategically important claims. © Walter de Gruyter.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)171-190
    Number of pages20
    JournalMultilingua
    Volume20
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

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