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ERIC Number: ED524794
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 162
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1244-4768-1
Linguistic Politeness and Interpersonal Ties among Bengalis on the Social Network Site Orkut[R]: The Bulge Theory Revisited
Das, Anupam
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University
This study examined linguistic politeness behaviors and their relationship to social distance among members of a diasporic Bengali community on the social network site "Orkut"[R]. Using data from computer-mediated communication (CMC), specifically text messages posted on "Orkut"[R] "scrapbooks," it developed a method to test the claims of the bulge theory of politeness (Wolfson, 1988, 1989), which holds that dyads at the extremes of the social distance scale use fewer politeness acts than do dyads in the middle distance. The focus of the analysis was on "compliments," "expressions of gratitude," and "greetings." The results indicate that the bulge is not a typical characteristic of the Bengali "Orkut"[R] participants' linguistic politeness behavior. The distribution of the participants' politeness behaviors marginally resembles the bulge pattern only in a few cases. To better understand the participants' linguistic politeness practices (or the lack thereof) in relation to social distance, the study examined the degree of "intensity" of their politeness practices in relation to the participants' level of social proximity with their contacts. The results of this second analysis show that unmarked "greetings" and "expressions of gratitude" were most frequently used by the participants when interacting with their "acquaintances" overall, although the frequency gradually decreases as the level of intimacy with their contacts increases. Conversely, intensified "greetings" and "expressions of gratitude" were expressed more frequently when the participants interacted with their intimate friends, and the frequency of such politeness practices steadily decreases with the decrease in level of intimacy. Unmarked "compliments" exhibit a reverse pattern, however; that is, they decrease as social distance increases. Finally, a "bulge" shape emerged when the frequency of use of intensified "compliments" was mapped onto social distance. This suggests that each politeness practice interacts with the social distance scale differently, and thus that each of them needs to be examined in its own right. These results indicate that Wolfson's (1988, 1989) "bulge theory" does not always hold true; that is, that the "bulge theory" is not culturally neutral and should not be accepted as a universal theory of politeness behavior. In explaining the patterns of association found in the study, the contribution of the participants' cultural background and the computer-mediated nature of the data are also considered. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A