An Investigation of the Use of politeness strategies in refusal among Characters with different power relations in English and Farsi Novels

Farahman Farrokhi, Mina Arghami


One of the important concerns of communicative way of learning is to be able to convey meaning and not just physical words in a language. The study of speech acts could possibly help achieve this. When using speech acts, one should take into consideration the conversational rules of the language and in order to establish a safe and harmonious conversation, it is better to use certain strategies to eliminate their possible threatening effects. Attempt is made in the present study using a mixed-method design, to investigate the employment of politeness strategies proposed by Brown and Levinson (1987), among the interlocutors with different power relations in English and Farsi novels, when using the speech act of refusal. The speech act of refusal addressed in this study is a face threatening act (FTA) (Brown & Levinson, 1987), which may be used differently by speakers of different languages, with different power relations, in different situations. The materials used are five English and five Farsi novels written by native speakers of English and Farsi. The taxonomy of Beebe, Takahashi and Uliss-Weltz (1990) were employed in order to categories different types of refusal. The frequency of their use and their percentages were calculated manually. The results indicated that even though reflecting two different cultures, the similarities among the English and Farsi novels regarding the use of both speech acts, were more than the differences. The differences were more obvious in the employment of politeness strategies. The findings of this study will probably give insights into the pragmatic and conversational rules of both languages.


Pragmatics, Politeness strategies, Power relation, Refusal, Individualistic and Collectivistic culture

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