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ERIC Number: ED377704
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994-Apr-2
Pages: 14
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Empowerment of Discourse Management.
Buck, R. A.
In a study published in 1987, Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson proposed that an abstract sociolinguistic principle guides and constrains a speaker's choice of language, and that this principle explains the politeness phenomenon in conversation. Moreover, central to this principle is the concept of "face," or personal self-image, implying that any given conversation begins with two conflicting "face wants," one negative, i.e., the desire to act unimpeded by others; and the other positive, i.e., the desire to be liked and respected by others. In the resulting "balancing act," the legitimate pursuit of a speaker's face needs often leads him/her to perform linguistic acts that threaten the face needs of others, necessitating the use of various strategies to overcome the problem. A major criticism of this model is its failure to reveal how face-threatening acts and politeness strategies interact sequentially with other areas of extended discourse and fit in with a larger social framework. This criticism is the paper's central concern, and the second and greater part of it illustrates this point through close analysis of a dialogue taken from E. M. Forster's novel, "Howard's End." The analysis is designed to show that verbal acts are only small pieces of larger social actions constructed through the succeeding moves of each participant. Forster's characters, it is suggested, seek continuously to empower themselves through the language they use, and in his dialogue, as in all socially contextualized speech, power is a matter for negotiation, something lost and regained with each shift and turn of the conversation. (LR)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A