Nov 022018
positive and negative politeness

When I moved to the US from the UK, I had to adjust some of the vocabulary I was using and learn some new expressions, but it was fun. And of course the grammar was much the same, so that was easy. The tricky thing for me was learning a new style of politeness. Really! The US and UK have rather different styles of politeness.

In American English it’s often important to show warmth and friendliness. That’s true in British English too, but in the UK we sometimes place more emphasis on not intruding or interfering.

It’s not that one style of politeness is better than the other, but it can lead to some funny differences when it comes to when we give compliments and how we receive them.

There’s a branch of linguistics called pragmatics which studies the hidden or secret meanings behind the words we choose. It looks at the intentions behind the things we say, and as a result, it has prompted a lot of research and discussion about linguistic politeness.

In this video we look at some ways that face issues impact politeness when it comes to compliments.

We haven’t tried to go into the technicalities of positive and negative politeness, but we show some issues in action that we think will be useful for English learners.

If you’ve enjoyed this video, here are two more we’ve made on some pragmatic features of English.
Why it’s hard to understand English speakers:
3 ways to get what you want in English:

 Posted by at 8:22 pm

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