Politeness principle: A comparative study of English and Moroccan Arabic requests, offers and thanks

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In the following paper I consider the various formats that politeness formula can exhibit in the following speech acts: requests, offers and thanks. I draw on material from English and Moroccan Arabic, making the point that these acts are rather complex, involving potential threat to the speaker and/or hearer's face. The analysis indicates that in both languages the speaker's primary goal is to minimise any threat to her/his face and to the face of the hearer; however, the method deployed to undertake this objective is different in the two languages. In English, the devices favoured are modals and questions whereas in Moroccan Arabic it is politeness markers and terms of address. Thus to mitigate the impact of the speech acts discussed in this paper, English seems to opt for syntactic downgraders, whereas MA inclines towards lexical downgraders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-15
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011



  • Face-threatening speech acts
  • Offers
  • Politeness principles
  • Requests
  • Speech acts
  • Thanks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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