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Journal of Politeness Research

Language, Behaviour, Culture

Ed. by Grainger, Karen

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“Mama Zimbi, pls help me!” – Gender differences in (im)politeness in Ghanaian English advice-giving on Facebook

Elisabeth Hampel
Published Online: 2015-02-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2015-0005


This paper explores (im)politeness and gender in a specific advice-giving practice of young Ghanaians online. The data is collected from the Facebook fan page of Mama Zimbi, a radio and TV personality from Ghana, and consists of a sample of 400 messages in response to two male and two female advice-seekers’ problem messages. The messages are analyzed according to form- and content-based categories, focussing on the directness and content of advice, the content of discursive moves other than advice, and address terms. The results indicate that very direct forms (i.e., imperatives) are the preferred way by both males and females to give advice. Directness, however, cannot be equated with impoliteness or politeness, which rather depends on a combination of the content of advice, further discursive moves and additional elements such as politeness markers. Although there are trends towards more cooperative advice by females and more negative responses directed at males, there are many exceptions to this and no clear gender differences are found. The high number of rude or sarcastic comments most probably serves the function of entertaining readers, while other users try to maintain politeness on the page by giving sincere advice and/or scolding those who insult advice-seekers.

Keywords: advice-giving; (im)politeness; gender; Ghanaian English; postcolonial pragmatics; computer-mediated communication

About the article

Published Online: 2015-02-02

Published in Print: 2015-02-01

Citation Information: Journal of Politeness Research, Volume 11, Issue 1, Pages 99–130, ISSN (Online) 1613-4877, ISSN (Print) 1612-5681, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2015-0005.

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©2015 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin Munich Boston. Copyright Clearance Center

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