Face-Threatening Speech Acts and Face-Invading Speech Acts: An Interpretation of Politeness Phenomena

José María Gil


P. Brown and S. Levinson state, in their foundational works on politeness, that only some communicative acts intrinsically threaten the speaker’s and the hearer’s face. Therefore, when performing these ‘face-threatening acts’, speakers use strategies aiming at minimizing face threat.
The purpose of this paper is to suggest that all speech acts, i.e., all utterances, inevitably affect both the speaker’s and the hearer’s face. This thesis leads us to the distinction between non-impolite and rude speech acts. Non-impolite speech acts (which are polite when involving at least one politeness strategy) always threaten the speaker’s and the hearer’s face. On the other hand, rude speech acts always invade the hearer’s face and, consequently, the speaker’s face. This analysis enables us to suggest that there are three general principles that take part in verbal communication.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v4i2.1858

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