Strategiese linguistiese beleefdheid en institusionele beeld :'n ondersoek na die invloed van beleefdheidstrategieë op institusionele beeld deur gepaarde waarnemings

Du Plessis, Philip (2007-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Afrikaans and Dutch))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


In this study, students’ reactions towards linguistic politeness and the lack thereof in letters distributed by Stellenbosch University (SU), is tested. The aim of the research is to determine the answers to mainly two questions: Does letters which lack linguistic politeness influence institutional image negatively? Is linguistic politeness considered a vital component in institutional letters? SU is currently engaged in establishing the institution’s proposed image in letters directed to students. For that reason, male and female students from the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Natural Sciences were chosen as respondents. The pioneers in the field of pragmatic politeness, Penelope Brown and Stephen C. Levinson, identified approximately 40 politeness strategies utilised in social interaction. According to Brown and Levinson, these strategies protect two intrinsic aspects of the human personality: positive face (roughly, the want to be respected by others) and negative face (roughly, the want not to be impeded by others). Consequently, two official letters from SU were tested to establish senior students’ interpretation of the letters’ contribution to face loss. One letter, incorporating no politeness strategies, and a manipulated version comprising appropriate strategies was employed. The research was accomplished by means of pared observations in which fifteen analogous politeness concepts were tested. Senior students responded to comparable questions that assessed the letters’ effect on their positive and negative face. Despite this, the respondents were never fully aware of the fact that their opinion of politeness was tested. The next step entailed the statistical processing of the answers that were ultimately featured on comparable histograms. The results prove that the writer (as a representative of SU) of the letter in which politeness strategies lack, shows no respect for the student (she/the letter generates positive face loss). However, this letter is mainly responsible for negative face loss which means the writer is excessively prescriptive. Interestingly enough, the student respondents were more sensitive towards linguistic politeness in the manipulated text than the lack thereof in the original version. Alternatively, the students are more appreciative towards the institutional letter which employs positive and negative politeness strategies. The results prove the high probability of linguistic politeness promoting institutional image and white, Afrikaans speaking students’ regard for linguistic politeness in institutional letters.

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