Use of Politeness Strategies by the Teachers of Karachi University
A Gender-Based Study
Keywords:politeness; impoliteness, face, gender, cross-cultural communication
Politeness in discourse is the desired goal in every culture but the notion of politeness varies from one culture to the other, which reinforces the influence of linguistic relativity in shaping our world view. Just as the notion of politeness varies across cultures, its notion also varies across gender. The current study aims to explore the use of politeness strategies employed by the male and female teachers of the University of Karachi to see if any gender differences exist in the nature of politeness strategies they employ. Rooted in Qualitative paradigm, case study design was employed by focusing exclusively on the teachers of the Faculty of Science and Social Sciences. The data for the study were gathered from the teachers of both the faculties using convenience and stratified sampling techniques. The data were based on 40 teachers’ responses to the Discourse Completion Task (DCT) which was designed by keeping in mind commonly occurring classroom situations at the University of Karachi. In order to cross-check the validity of the teachers’ responses on the DCT, some teachers’ classes were also observed. The teachers’ responses to the situations given in the DCT were analyzed using the Politeness theory proposed by Brown and Levinson (1987), while the data gathered through classroom observation were also evaluated by employing discursive approach to see if any gender differences exist in the nature of politeness in the classroom discourse. The results of the study reveal obvious gender differences in the use of politeness strategies irrespective of the teachers’ age, designation and the subject they teach. However, there are reservations in assigning the tag ‘polite’ or ‘impolite’ to any specific gender unless the students’ notion of politeness is taken into consideration.
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