Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Journal of Politeness Research

Language, Behaviour, Culture

Ed. by Grainger, Karen


IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.652
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.667

CiteScore 2018: 1.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.785
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.150

Online
ISSN
1613-4877
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Routine politeness in American and British English requests: use and non-use of please

M. Lynne Murphy / Rachele De Felice
Published Online: 2019-02-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2016-0027

Abstract

This paper looks at the use and non-use of please in American and British English requests. The analysis is based on request data from two comparable workplace email corpora, which have been pragmatically annotated to enable retrieval of all request speech acts regardless of formulation. 675 requests are extracted from each of the two corpora; the behaviour of please is analyzed with regard to factors such as imposition level, sentence mood, and modal verb type. Differences in use of please between the two varieties of English can be accounted for by viewing this as a marker of conventional politeness rather than face-threat mitigation in British English and as a marker of relationship asymmetry in American English.

Keywords: politeness strategies; requests; pragmatic variation; English; please

References

  • Aijmer, Karin. 1996. Conversational routines in English: convention and creativity. London: Longman.Google Scholar

  • Akimoto, Minoji. 2000. The grammaticalization of the verb pray. In Olga Fischer, Anette Rosenbach & Dieter Stein (eds.), Pathways of change: grammaticalization in English. 67-84. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Anke, Luis Espinosa, José Camacho Collados & Emma Moreton. 2013. The development of COBEC: the Corpus of Business English Correspondence. Paper presented at the V Congreso Internacional de Lingüística de Corpus (CILC), Alicante, 14-16 March.Google Scholar

  • Anthony, Laurence. 2014. AntConc (Version 3.4.1w) [Computer Software]. Tokyo, Japan: Waseda University. Available from http://www.laurenceanthony.net/ (accessed 15 May 2016)Google Scholar

  • Biber, Douglas, Stig Johansson, Geoffrey Leech, Susan Conrad & Edward Finegan. 1999. Longman grammar of spoken and written English. Harlow: Pearson Education.Google Scholar

  • Biesenbach-Lucas, Sigrun. 2006. Making requests in email: Do cyber-consultations entail directness? Toward conventions in a new medium. In Kathleen Bardovi-Harlig, J. César Félix-Brasdefer & Alwiya S. Omar (eds.), Pragmatics and language learning, volume 11. 81-107. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.Google Scholar

  • Blum-Kulka, Shoshana. 1987. Indirectness and politeness in requests: same or different? Journal of Pragmatics 11. 131-146.Google Scholar

  • Blum-Kulka, Shoshana, Juliane House & Gabriele Kasper. 1989. The CCSARP coding manual. In Shoshana Blum-Kulka, Juliane House & Gabriele Kasper (eds.), Cross-cultural pragmatics: requests and apologies. 273-294. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar

  • Breuer, Anja & Ronald Geluykens. 2007. Variation in British and American English requests: a contrastive analysis. 107-125. In Bettina Kraft & Ronald Geluykens (eds.), Cross-cultural pragmatics and interlanguage English. Munich: Lincom.Google Scholar

  • Brown, Penelope & Stephen C. Levinson. 1987. Politeness: some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Curl, Traci S. & Paul Drew. 2008. Contingency and action: a comparison of two forms of requesting. Research on Language and Social Interaction 41. 129-153.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • De Felice, Rachele, Jeannique Darby, Anthony Fisher & David Peplow. 2013. A classification scheme for annotating speech acts in a business email corpus. ICAME Journal 37. 71-105.Google Scholar

  • De Felice, Rachele & Emma Moreton. 2014. The pragmatics of Business English: introducing the Corpus of Business English Correspondence (COBEC). Paper presented at the 7th IVACS Conference, Newcastle, 19-21 June.Google Scholar

  • De Felice, Rachele & Emma Moreton. 2015. Introducing the Corpus of Business English Correspondence (COBEC): a resource for the lexicon and pragmatics of Business English. Paper presented at the 36th ICAME Conference, Trier, 27-31 May.Google Scholar

  • Ervin-Tripp, Susan. 1976. Is Sybil there? the structure of some American English directives. Language and Society 5. 25-66.Google Scholar

  • Faya Cerqueiro, Fatima. 2013. Courtesy markers in requests: the case of pray and please In Late Modern English. Doctoral thesis, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela. Available at: http://hdl.handle.net/10347/9306Google Scholar

  • Félix-Brasdefer, J. César. 2012. Email requests to faculty. In Maria Economidou-Kogetsidis & Helen Woodfield (eds.), Interlanguage Request Modification. 87-118. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Firmin, Michael W., Janine M. Helmick, Brian A. Iezzi & Aaron Vaughn. 2004. Say please: the effect of the word “please” in compliance-seeking requests. Social Behavior and Personality 32. 67-72.Google Scholar

  • Flöck, Ilka. 2011. Suggestions in British and American English: a corpus-linguistic study. Bochumer Linguistische Arbeiten 3. 67-81.Google Scholar

  • Flöck, Ilka & Ronald Geluykens. 2015. Speech acts in corpus pragmatics: a quantitative contrastive study of directives in spontaneous and elicited discourse. In Jesús Romero-Trillo (ed.), Yearbook of Corpus Linguistics and Pragmatics 2015. 7-36. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar

  • Garner, Bryan. 2002. The Oxford dictionary of American usage and style [online edition]. New York: Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195135084.001.0001/acref-9780195135084 (accessed 16 June 2016)Google Scholar

  • Goddard, Cliff. 2012. Cultural scripts and communication style differences in three Anglo Englishes. In Barbara Kyrk-Kastovsky (ed.), Intercultural miscommunication: past and present. 101-120. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Haugh, Michael & Klaus Schneider (eds.). 2012. Special Issue: Im/politeness across Englishes. Journal of Pragmatics 44(9).Google Scholar

  • Holmes, Janet. 1984. Modifying illocutionary force. Journal of Pragmatics 8. 345-365.Google Scholar

  • House, Juliane. 1989. Politeness in English and German: the functions of please and bitte. In Shoshana Blum-Kulka, Juliane House & Gabriele Kasper (eds.), Cross-cultural pragmatics: requests and apologies. 96-119. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar

  • Leech, Geoffrey. 2014. The pragmatics of politeness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Leopold, Lisa. 2015. Request strategies in professional e-mail correspondence: insights from the United States workplace. TESL Canada Journal 32(2). 1-29.Google Scholar

  • Liz & Julie. 2007. You f’coffee sir?!! The real air hostesses’ handbook. Kindle edition. High Peak, Derbyshire: BingBong Ltd.Google Scholar

  • Mason, Frances Norton. 1968. John Norton and Sons, merchants of London & Virginia. Newton Abbot, Devon: David & Charles.Google Scholar

  • Murphy, M. Lynne (Lynneguist). 2012 (18 August). Saying please in restaurants. Separated by a Common Language (blog). http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/saying-please-in-restaurants.html (accessed 15 May 2016)Google Scholar

  • OED Online. 2016. please, adv. and int. Oxford University Press. (accessed 24 May 2016)Google Scholar

  • Piotrowski, Maryann V. 1989. Effective business writing, 2nd edn. New York: Collins Reference.Google Scholar

  • Pufahl Bax, Ingrid. 1986. How to assign work in an office: a comparison of spoken and written directives in American English. Journal of Pragmatics 10. 673-692.Google Scholar

  • Sato, Shie. 2008. Use of please in American and New Zealand English. Journal of Pragmatics 40. 1249-1278.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Schneider, Klaus P. 2012. Appropriate behaviour across varieties of English. Journal of Pragmatics 44. 1022-1037.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Scollon, Ron & Suzanne W. Scollon. 1981. Narrative, Literacy and Face in Inter-ethnic Communication. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar

  • Stewart, Edward C. & Milton J. Bennett. 1991. American cultural patterns: a cross-cultural perspective. Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.Google Scholar

  • Stross, B. 1964. Waiter-to-cook speech in restaurants. Unpublished term paper. Cited in Ervin-Tripp, Susan. 1976. Is Sybil there? the structure of some American English directives. Language and Society 5. 25-66.Google Scholar

  • Styler, Will. 2011. The EnronSent Corpus. Boulder: University of Colorado.Google Scholar

  • Terkourafi, Marina. 2015. Conventionalization: a new agenda for politeness research. Journal of Pragmatics 86. 11-18.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Tocqueville, Alexis de. 1840. Democracy in America, vol. 2. Project Gutenberg ebook edition. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/815/815-h/815-h.htm (accessed 15 May 2016)Google Scholar

  • Trawick-Smith, Ben. 2012 (13 May). Impolite “please”. Dialect Blog. http://dialectblog.com/2012/05/13/impolite-please/ (accessed 15 May 2016)Google Scholar

  • Vaughn, Aaron J., Michael W. Firmin & Chi-en Hwang. 2009. Efficacy of request presentation on compliance. Social Behavior and Personality 37(4). 441-450.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Vine, Bernadette. 2004. Getting things done at work: the discourse of power in workplace interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Watts, Richard J. 2003. Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Weis, Frederick Lewis. 1955. The colonial clergy of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina (2001 reprint). Baltimore: Clearfield.Google Scholar

  • Weseen, Maurice H. 1928. Crowell dictionary of English grammar and handbook of American usage. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Co.Google Scholar

  • White, Richard Grant. 1880. Every-day English: a sequel to Words and their uses. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar

  • Wichmann, Anne. 2004. The intonation of please-requests. Journal of Pragmatics 36. 1521-1549.Google Scholar

About the article

M. Lynne Murphy

Is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sussex, specializing in lexicology with a pragmatic bent. Her books include Semantic Relations and the Lexicon (Cambridge UP, 2003) and Lexical Meaning (Cambridge UP, 2010). Since 2006, she has written the Separated by a Common Language blog on the relationships between British and American English.

Rachele De Felice

Is a Senior Teaching Fellow at University College London. Her research focuses on corpus linguistics and pragmatics, and the intersection between these two disciplines. Particular areas of interest are speech act use across different varieties of English, and politeness behaviours in workplace communication.


Received: 2016-06-23

Accepted: 2017-01-25

Published Online: 2019-02-07

Published in Print: 2019-02-04


Citation Information: Journal of Politeness Research, Volume 15, Issue 1, Pages 77–100, ISSN (Online) 1613-4877, ISSN (Print) 1612-5681, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2016-0027.

Export Citation

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in