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  1. Newbie
    Interested in Language
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Dutch
      • Home Country:
      • Netherlands
      • Current Location:
      • Netherlands

    • Join Date: Apr 2013
    • Posts: 1

    Post Politeness in English

    Hi everybody,

    For my study I'm very much interested in different (cultural) perceptions of politeness.
    What is polite in one culture, can be impolite in another. How do we perceive second language learners of English that are not familiar with the (cultural) norms and values, and therefore differ in their formulation of politeness from native speakers.

    Therefore, I'm doing cross-cultural research on politeness in English.
    I would very much appreciate it if you could find the time to fill out the questionnaire.
    The questionnaire will take approximately 5-10 minutes.

    Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

    Thanks in advance

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 59,252

    Re: Politeness in English

    Does this include native speakers?

  2. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134

    Re: Politeness in English

    I could not complete the questionnaire satisfactorily.

    It would have been better if the text had been available when I was trying to answer the questions - unless you are interested in residual impressions.

  3. konungursvia's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Mar 2009
    • Posts: 5,158

    Re: Politeness in English

    I did the questionnaire. But, I'm a little surprised a Dutch group might find English-speakers a useful category. English has no relatives closer than the Friesland dialect, and Dutch. England is separated from the Netherlands by a few short kilometres and the nations have been allies for centuries. The differences are rather small.

    Comparing European and East Asian notions of politeness would be a much more interesting proposition, in my view, particularly for business.

    After living in Hong Kong for 4 years, I noticed a few things about both the West and the East; maybe others like TDol and Ray could confirm whether they saw these things too.

    Waiters in the West
    1) In Europe it is polite to repeat the order bit by bit as it is given.
    2) The waiter maintains a medium distance from the speaker.
    3) The waiter notes which person, from which chair, orders which dish, or remembers this information.
    4) The waiter is expected to pay attention from a distance, observing when you need more water or beer and approaching when needed.

    Waiters in the Far East
    1) The waiter is polite when he moves his face very near to the speaker.
    2) The waiter is polite when he saves time by immediately turning his back and hurrying off to fulfill the order.
    3) The waiter is polite by making offers of more beer, water or food, but does not make these in terms of observations of the table.
    4) The waiter is not zoned, but helps all tables, so it is polite to serve/help any customer who flags you down.

    Strangers in the West
    1) When asking directions, accuracy is the key element of helpfulness.
    2) When you don't know, it is polite and appropriate to say you don't know.
    3) Giving someone incorrect directions is unkind and at times cruelly humorous.

    Strangers in the Far East
    1) When asking questions, appearing helpful is the key element of politeness.
    2) When you don't know, you just guess and give an answer to seem helpful.
    3) Giving someone incorrect directions is irrelevant, they can ask more people later.

    I could go on but this is less fun than I thought it would be. ;)

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