Huu Phuc Tran
Modality markers and politeness strategies in British and American ambassadorial speeches: A corpus-based approach
Tran, Huu Phuc
This study investigates modality markers used as expressions of politeness in British and American ambassadorial speeches via a corpus-based method. Results of the research reflect the semantic and pragmatic perspectives of modality markers on the theories of modality and politeness. Although modality and politeness are the central topics in a wide range of studies, the two domains have been discussed separately and their relationship has not been empirically investigated. Moreover, there has been no study on modality markers in British and American discourse, nor has the use of modality markers in British and American ambassadorial speeches been examined. Therefore, this research examines the relation of modality to politeness via the use of British and American ambassadorial speeches. The research contributes to the practice of the discourse community with the analysis of modality markers as politeness strategies in ambassadorial speeches. The results of a comparative analysis of modality markers as speakers’ politeness strategies collected in ambassadorial speeches reveal that American and British ambassadors are strikingly different in their frequency of modality markers expressing particular politeness categories. American ambassadors use more modality markers expressing positive politeness strategies such as paying attention to hearers, expressing strong commitment, hedging on hearers’ positive face, expressing optimism, complimenting to mitigate the force of comments, making claims and minimising the imposition of face-threatening acts. British ambassadors, however, employ more modality markers expressing negative politeness strategies such as hedging on negative face-threatening acts, expressing hypotheses, expressing humbleness and mitigating the force of obligation. Therefore, this thesis claims that American ambassadors use more modality markers expressing positive politeness in terms of personal emotions and directness, while British ambassadors prefer modality markers expressing negative politeness such as tentativeness, indirectness and mitigation. It is noted that modality is represented in a range of syntactic structures and patterns other than single modal auxiliary verbs. In addition, since modality markers as expressions of politeness are culture-specific, the use of modality markers differs from one culture to another. Moreover, modality markers cannot totally be treated as hedges in intercultural communication since some modality markers which seem to be semantically similar between languages are actually different in their pragmatic functions among different cultures.
Tran, H. P. Modality markers and politeness strategies in British and American ambassadorial speeches: A corpus-based approach. (Thesis). University of the West of England
|Keywords||modality, politeness, British, American, ambassadorial speeches|
1HUU PHUC TRAN_Modified copy_EThOS Submitted_6.2014.pdf