Sixth International Symposium on Linguistic Politeness , 2011-07-11

Title : ( An Analysis of the Realization of Politeness Markers in Official Letters: A Cross-cultural Study )

Authors: Reza Pishghadam ,

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The concept of politeness is understood differently by the speakers of various languages. Among other things, the strategies that English and Persian speakers adopt in writing the official letters are considered to display significant distinctions. The present study aims to be a contribution to scrutinizing some of those linguistic and culture-oriented differences. To our knowledge, several studies have dealt with these cross-cultural differences (e.g.,; Wierzbicka,1991; Kitao, 1990; Carrell & Konneker, 1987; Blum-Kulka & Olshtain, 1984); however, most of which have focused on concepts rather than the perception of politeness in official letter-writing. Yet another purpose of this study is to analyze the position of English and Iranian cultural systems with regard to politeness based on the category of Scollon and Scollon (2001). In order to conduct such an analysis, 100 business letters written by native English and Persian speakers were sampled randomly. First of all, following Halliday’s (1985) concept of lexical density, the lexical and grammatical words were computed and contrasted in Iranian and English official letters. Afterwards, in regard to clarification of the position of Iranian cultural system in comparison with that of English, the data was analyzed in quest of finding the power relations in the letters. Finally, the politeness strategies found in English and Persian official letters were compared and contrasted in accordance with the theoretical framework proposed by Brown and Levinson (1987). The analysis of the corpus indicated that the special density of lexical and grammatical words in English letters in addition to their enjoying of a mostly horizontal cultural system provided their focus on a special set of politeness strategies while a quite distinctive set of politeness aspects were favoured by Persian letter-writers. Further, the findings suggest that since certain principles govern the structure of official letters across different cultures, crucial aspects should be considered by letter-writers of both languages to avoid any misunderstanding and communication failures caused by the socio-cultural differences in using politeness strategies. Therefore, acknowledging the results can offer valuable suggestions for researchers, materials developers and teachers for preparing the class materials with respect to these politeness strategies differences.


, Politeness, Letters, Persian,
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author = {Pishghadam, Reza},
title = {An Analysis of the Realization of Politeness Markers in Official Letters: A Cross-cultural Study},
booktitle = {Sixth International Symposium on Linguistic Politeness},
year = {2011},
location = {آنکارا},
keywords = {Politeness; Letters; Persian; English},


%0 Conference Proceedings
%T An Analysis of the Realization of Politeness Markers in Official Letters: A Cross-cultural Study
%A Pishghadam, Reza
%J Sixth International Symposium on Linguistic Politeness
%D 2011