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In this paper, I first look at how the notions of “politeness” and “impoliteness” have been discussed in the literature including my own ideas of relating universal levels of impoliteness to culture and language-specific levels. Given this framework and my earlier postulation of a set of dimensions along which German speakers were found to prefer expressions that are more direct than indirect, more explicit than implicit, and generally more content-oriented than addressee-oriented, I provide several examples of German speakers interacting with members of other cultures in everyday talk and academic advising sessions. In interpreting the results of the analyses of these interactions, I attempt to relate them to the concept of impoliteness, to German speakers' communicative preferences and to the distinction between an emic and an etic perspective.
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