An attempt at a proxemic description of politeness from the ethological-evolutionary persepctive

Przemysław Żywiczyński

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/v10235-011-0005-2

Abstract


It should be admitted that the view on the development of linguistic politeness laid out in this article is couched in very hypothetical terms. To go beyond the postulative character of this proposal, it is necessary to further investigate politeness phenomena themselves as well as their relation to proxemic operations. First of all, the universality of sociofugal politeness should be demonstrated. Although there is some empirical evidence suggesting that the mechanisms of discourse dislocation, cognitive distancing, and personal distancing have a wide distribution across languages (see Żywiczyński 2010: 391–438), this thesis stands in want of a thorough verification, in particular with reference to an influence of socio-linguistic factors on the variability in the occurrence of particular strategies. Next, an exhaustive functional description of sociofugal politeness should be given. Here, the argument about its appeasing role was uniquely based on the study of dispreferred turns. Other studies indicate that in different contexts politeness serves the same purpose. For example, the accumulation of sociofugal strategies in an utterance seems to be proportional to the degree of imposition contained in it; hence, it can be concluded that an increased risk of an interaction taking an agonal course increases the intensity of appeasement displays.


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