Politeness and Solidarity

1. The Definition of Politeness 

In our daily life, we have the awareness about which one is polite action and which one is not. Politeness, thus, is an observable and social phenomenon. Whenever we want anybody else to respect and being good to us, we have to show our politeness. In turn, he/she will respond you politely either. We often say “hello! ” to others.All we want to do is to show our good feelings, our friendliness, and our intention to maintain harmonious relationships with them. In general, we act politely in order to show our wishes to start a friendly relation with someone, or to maintain it if it is already existing, or to fix it if it is being threatened for some reasons. To maintain such smooth, harmonious interpersonal relationships expected by every human in every society, politeness serves as an appropriate means. There are ideas by expert about what politeness is. Watts (2003, p. 39) had proposed four definitions of politeness. They are as follows: 1. Politeness is the ideal union between the character of an individual and his external actions (e.g. the language which that individual uses). 2. Politeness is the ability to please others through one’s external actions (e.g. through one’s language usage). 3. Politeness is the natural attribute of a ‘good’ character. 4. Politeness is a socially acquired state of mind that is adjudged to have reached a state of being ‘polished’ and of thereby being in conformity with a set of socially accepted forms of behavior  Kasper (1990) as cited in Huang (2008) said that “communication is seen as a fundamentally dangerous and antagonistic endeavor”. Politeness is therefore defined by Kasper as a term to refer to the strategies available to interactants to defuse the danger and to minimalise the antagonism. Similarly, Brown and Levinson (1978) as cited in Huang (2008) view politeness as ‘a complex system for softening face-threatening acts’. 2. Tu and Vous Talking about politeness and solidarity, there are two forms of pronominal which indicate distinction between the uses of ‘familiar’ and ‘polite’ forms. Those forms are Tu (T) and Vous (V). According to Brown and Gilman (1960) as cited in Wardhaugh (2002), originally in French, Tu refers to ‘singular you’ while Vous refers to ‘plural you’. Historically, plural vous was used to refer to the emperor. At that time, there were two emperors who ruled eastern and western empire. Even though, administratively they were unified. Addressing one emperor means refer to both emperors. Besides, philosophically, the emperor was also said to be plural because the emperor was seen as the summation of his people and could speak as the people representative. Wardhaugh (2002) assumed that “the consequence of this usage was that by medieval times the upper classes apparently began to use V form with each other to show mutual respect and politeness” (p. 260). In further he said that the T which still exists was used by the lower classes in the following time. The lower class used mutual T while the upper classes used mutual V. When they talked to different classes, the upper classes used T and received V. This asymmetrical T/V usage therefore symbolizes a power relationship. Wardhaugh noticed that lately the use of symmetrical V is used not only among the upper class. The polite V-V usage as the reflection of politeness is used spread downward in the society except the lowest class. Therefore, it happens that V-V is used between wife and husband, parent and children, and lovers. When V-V usage reflects respect and politeness, the T-T usage was said to reflect solidarity and intimacy. Wardhaugh had said that “mutual T for solidarity gradually come to replace the mutual V of politeness, since solidarity is often more important than politeness in personal relationship”. Even that today we still see the use of asymmetrical T/V uses, but solidarity is called to replace power that the use of mutual T is found quite often in relationships which previously has asymmetrical uses. A book published in France entitled Savoir-vivre en France (Vigner, 1978 in Wardhaugh, 2002) gives advices to foreigners on the use of tu and vous. They are as follows: 1. Tu should be use between spouses, between brothers and sisters regardless of age, between parents and children, between close relatives, between young people living or working closely together, and between adults who have friendship of long standing, particularly adults of the same gender 2. Vous should be used between strangers, between those who have no ties of any kind, and between inferior and superior. 3. Address Terms Politeness and solidarity are manifested also from the terms used in addressing other. There are some terms used to name or address another such as by title (T), by first name (FN), by last name (LN), by nick name, by some combination of these. There are factors influencing someone choice to address another. The address process goes symmetrically and asymmetrically. Different society has different naming practice. One example which is called to be different from what we are likely familiar with is address terms used by Nuer, Sudanese people. Every Nuer has his/her own personal or birth name, a name given by their parents after the birth. The maternal grandparents also usually give second personal name. Consequently, the child’s paternal kin may address the child by one personal name while the child’s maternal kin by other. There are also special personal names for twins. In the village, males are addressed by their personal names during their boyhood. This name is shift as the boy grows up to be adult that less senior males will address the more senior males by Gwa which means ‘father’. This naming practice is different across culture. According to a study in 1961 done by Brown and Ford, it was reported: a. The asymmetric use of title, last name and first name (TLN/FN) indicated inequality in power b. Mutual TLN indicated inequality and unfamiliarity c. Mutual FN indicated equality and familiarity. d. The switch from mutual TLN to FN is also usually initiated by the more powerful member of the relationship. There are options of addressing other besides the name. They are as follows: a. Addressing by the title alone (T), e.g. Professor, Doctor b. Last name alone (LN), e.g. Smith c. Multiple naming, e.g. variation between Mr Smith and Fred Address by title alone is least intimate form of address because it designates the ranks of occupations such as Colonel, Doctor, or Waiter. They are devoid of ‘personal’ content. We can say then that Dr. Smith is more intimate than Doctor alone that the other person’s name is known and can be mentioned. 4. Politeness of Balinnese Society Through the choice on the use of T/V form as well as address terms, we can show our feelings toward the others, whether it is solidarity, power, distance, respect, intimacy and our awareness of social customs. Such awareness is also shown through the general politeness with which we use language. Politeness itself is socially prescribed. It does not means that we have to be polite in all occasion. The concept of politeness is closely related to the work of Goffman 1955, 1967 on ‘face’ In social interaction we present a face to other and to others’ faces. In interaction, we need to protect both our own face and the face of others to the extent that ever time we meet each other we play a mini drama. Brown and Levinson (1987) in Wardhaugh (2002, p.275) differentiated positive and negative face. Positive face is the desire to gain the approval of others, ‘the positive consistent self-image’ or ‘personality’ …claimed by Interactants. Negative face is the desire to be unimpeded by others in one’s actions, ‘the basic claim to territories, personal preserves, and rights to non-distraction … freedom of action and freedom from imposition. Positive face looks for solidarity, while negative face requires the need to act without giving offense. When we interact with other, we have such a choice whether to use positive politeness or the negative one. Positive politeness is called will lead to moves to achieves solidarity through offers of friendship, the use of compliments, and informal language use. On the other hand, negative politeness leads to deference, apologizing, indirectness, and formality in language use. The example of positive and negative politeness is the use of symmetric and asymmetric pronominal. The concept of ‘politeness’ in language can be seen in balinnese cultures as follows: a. Balinnese culture Geertz studied Balinnese and found out that when Balinnese wants to say something, he/she needs to decide an appropriate speech style: high, middle, and low. The speaker needs to consider social relationship between the speaker and the listener in terms of status and familiarity. Such decision is needed because many words have different variants according to the style. For example: the equivalent to the English word I is titiang in high style, tiang in middle style, and iyang/icang in low style. Geertz as cited in Wardhaugh (2002, p.276) added some interesting observation. He said that “as you move from low to high style, you speak more slowly and softly and more evenly in terms of rhythm and pitch, so that the highest levels when spoken correctly have kind of stately pomp which can make the simplest conversation seem like a greater ceremony. There are factors determining the selection of a particular level which Geertz proposed as follows: 1) Qualitative characteristics of the speaker such as: a. Age b. Sex c. Kinship relation d. Occupation e. Wealth f. Education g. Religious commitment h. Family background 2) More general factors such as: a. Social setting. One would be likely to use the higher level to the same individual at a wedding than in the street. b. The content of the conversation. In general, one uses lower levels when speaking commercial matters, higher ones if speaking of religious or aesthetic matters. c. The history of social interaction between the speakers. One will tend to speak rather high, if one speaks at all, with someone with whom one has quarreled. d. The presence of the third person. One tends to speak higher to the same individual if others are listening. Wardhaugh (2002, p.278) stated three principles that seem to operate. They are: 1. Highest style is use among the old aristocrats or by anyone at the highest levels of society who wants to give the appearance of elegance. 2. Middle style is used by town-dwellers who are not close friends, or by peasants addressing superiors. Village-dwellers would also use this level whit very high superior since they cannot be expected to have any knowledge on the highest style. 3. Low style is the style all children learn first regardless of social class origin, and everyone uses it on some occasion, even close acquaintances of the highest classes. Men and woman are also required to speak differently. Women are expected to be more talkative than man and to err on the side of being over-polite in their words choices. On the other hand, men are required to be extremely careful in manipulating the style of speech because nuanced speech is highly prized. As Bali has modernized, certain changes have occurred. Bahasa Indonesia had spread and dominated the speech on political live since they do not need to use the speak level. It can be inferred that the choices of Balinnese on their language are determined by the need to maintain the existence of social arrangement, not to fulfill the individual’s need to address his/her momentary wants. 5. Considerable Items Related to Politeness. To achieve the goal of politeness, we should consider it from the following aspects proposed by Watts (2003): 1) Considering the social background of the communicator. Generally, the more educated a man is, the more he tendsto show his politeness to other people. The more he knows about the suitable ways to show politeness, the better he usesthem to be polite to others. Besides, the personality of the communicator is also very important here. Good-temperedperson prefers to use “face-saving act” while bad-tempered person prefers “face-threatening act” when they comeacross the “face-losing condition”. 2) According to the communicative circumstances. Communication is a very complicated process. In formal occasions,people tend to use formal expressions to show politeness, especially between the new acquaintances. While in informal states,people tend to be casual to show intimacy even if it is in the very moment they meet. And that doesn’t meanimpoliteness. We can see it through the following example: A man came into a bar and said to the waiter: “Hi! Buddy! Gimme some Whisky, would ya?”Although they have never met before, the man used very casual phrases to enclose their relationship. This is a usual wayto show friendliness to strangers. 3) Considering the social distance or closeness. In situations of social distance or closeness, showing awareness for another person’s face when that other seemssocially distant is often described in terms of respect or deference. Showing the equivalent awareness when the other issocially close is often described in terms of friendliness or solidarity. Even though, there are exceptions. For example, people often use family names to call their close friends, and when these peoplespeak to each other, they will use direct offer or request. But sometimes they use very formal expressions in their speech.Look at the following example:eg.2. Husband to his wife: “ Would you be so kind as to hand the bread over to me?”Surely we know that the wife has just quarreled with the husband and the husband is trying to amuse her in a certainway. Besides all the aspects discussed above, there’s another important point to concern with that is the cultural differences. 4) Cultural Differences Different culture causes different views of values, which affects the criteria of politeness and leads to differences invarious aspects. a. Ways to greet each others and farewells The westerners often greet others with a cheerful “Hello!” or something like “How are you?” If they are talking with astranger, they tend to talk about the weather as a way of greeting. But to Chinese people, they like to ask “ Have youeaten?”,“where are you going ?” , “ What brings you here?” or “ What are you doing here?” All these would beconsidered as interferences to privacy for westerners. When parting, Chinese seldom say “goodbye” as farewells that would be too formal or somewhat distant. Before theyleave, Chinese guests like to say “I have to go now.” “I am going.” or “Stay where you are”, and the hosts are used tosay “Go slowly”, “Come again.” to see them off. While two friends departing after they meet on the road, one of themmay say “ I’ve got to leave.” and the other may say “ Let’ s chat next time”, “ Come to see me when you are free.” Or“I would visit you if I can.” As for westerners, they often say “Goodbye!”,“See you!” when they part. (Deng Yanchang and Liu Runqing 1989 in Leech, 2005) b. Ways to praise others Look at this dialogue below: (Seeing a beautiful curtain in an American family, the Chinese wants to praise the room settings) Chinese: “How beautiful the curtain is!” Hostess: “I made it on my own.” Chinese: “Really? I can’t believe it!” The Chinese used surprising tone to show he really liked the curtain, this strategy works well in China, but the hostessfelt insulted. We know the Americans are very confident about themselves. Imagine what they may feel when theirself-esteems are being hurt. The hostess thought the Chinese didn’t believe she was capable of doing it, and her abilitywas doubted. c. Ways to express thanks The ways to express thanks are different in China from western countries. Westerners prefer to convey their thanksdirectly while Chinese like to minimize themselves to achieve the same goal. See the following example: 1) When you praise them, “ How beautiful your dress is! Westerners: “Thanks a lot!” Chinese: “Really? It” s just an ordinary dress.” 2) When they appreciate your help, Westerners: “ You” re really a great help to me.” Or “I can” t imagines how I can manage it without you! Or “Thank you for enduring so much trouble I brought to you!” “I really appreciate your help!” … Chinese: “Sorry to have wasted your time.” Or “Sorry for having taken up your precious time.” Or “I” m not at ease for bringing your so much trouble.” The westerner is trying to maximize the communicator’s help to be polite while the Chinese humbles himself to showgratitude. So it happens when a foreigner praises a Chinese woman for her beautiful dress, if the Chinese woman uses aChinese way to show politeness, her answer might be considered as minimizing the westerner’ s ability toappreciate for he had shown great surprise over such an ordinary dress. 6. Politeness and Solidarity in EFL Teaching Different culture causes different views of values. It affects the criteria of politeness and leads to differences in various aspects.Since there are different views of criteria of politeness in different situation in different culture, it is necessary to serve the language learners the knowledge of different kind of politeness appropriate in certain culture. It enables the students see how people express their intention to build, maintain, or fix certain relationships. Serving the language learners with knowledge of the criteria of politeness which exists in English is more to be emphasized in English Foreign Language Teaching. English Foreign Language learners should have the knowledge of politeness in English itself since it would be different with those in another language. It is to say that certain language has its own politeness criteria. Therefore, students who are learning English whose aim is to communicating the language correctly and appropriately should learn the criteria of language use in their target language. CONCLUSION Politeness is very important principle in language use because it determines the relationship that is going to build up between the speaker and the hearer. Different societies may have different view about the way of being polite. In using French, we cannot avoid to use tu and vous distinction. In communicating in English, we must refer to others and address them on occasion. In speaking in Javanese and Japanese, we must observe the convention having to do with the correct choice of speech level and honorifics. Since there are different views of criteria of politeness in different situation in different culture, it is necessary to serve the language learners the knowledge of different kind of politeness appropriate in certain culture. Even though, serving the language learners with knowledge of the criteria of politeness which exists in English is more to be emphasized in English Foreign Language Teaching. REFERENCES Wardhaugh, Ronald. 2002. An introduction to sociolinguistics. United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing. Richard J. Watts.2003. Politeness. New York: Cambridge University Press Yongliang Huang. 2008. Politeness Principle in Cross-Cultural Communication(Available in Journal on English Language Teaching, Vol.1 No.1. June 2008) Geoffrey Leech. 2005. Politeness: Is there an East-West Divide? ( Available in Journal of Foreign Languages,General Serial No.160. No.6, November 2005

1 komentar:

agues shaliem mengatakan...

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