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Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1459 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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1.0 Background of the study

Over the last three decades, politeness has become one of the central discussions in pragmatic and sociolinguistic research. A large number of theoretical, empirical books and articles about linguistic politeness have been published, shows that politeness has become one of the most active areas of research in language use.

Interest in politeness, both as a social and linguistic phenomenon, has increased significantly in the past two decades. However, many studies have drawn on spoken data. Only a few scholars have studied politeness in written texts such as scientific written materials. Myers (1989) initiated in his study the model proposed by Brown and Levinson (1987) onto written data, namely that of scientific journal articles, and had found this theory to applicable to investigate and categorise politeness strategies in scientific writing.

The researcher hopes that this study is able to contribute to the existing pool of knowledge on politeness strategies used in academic writing, particularly that in the writing of economic journal articles of two identified economic journals.

1.1 Statement of the Problem

The main purpose of this study is to indentify the politeness strategies employed by the economists and analyze the politeness kinds of strategies in economic journals.

1.2 Objective of the Study

The objective of this study is:

1. To investigate how economists use language to present findings in polite way

2. To investigates the use of politeness strategies in economics text

3. To compare the use of politeness strategies in a local and international economic journals

1.3 Research Questions

1) What kinds of politeness strategies are employed by writers in local and international economic journal articles?

2) In what ways are local and international journals similar or different in the use of politeness strategies?

1.4 Scope and Limitation of The Study

This present study is limited to two identified journals, namely, Malaysia Journal of Economic Studies and the Journal of Economic Growth

2. Review of Related Literature

It is possible to define generic types of politeness strategies to explain and predict the adoption of politeness in oral or written discourse. Brown and Levinson (1978), Myers (1989)

2.1. Politeness and Scientific Articles an Overview

Brown and Levinson’s (1987) theory of politeness has become the “model against which most research on politeness defines itself”. Brown and Levinson categorize politeness as either positive politeness or negative politeness and tie both strategies to the importance of face in every culture. They define ‘face’ as “the public self-image that every member wants to claim for himself” roughly the want to be unimpeded and the want to be approved in certain respects. Politeness strategies are developed for the main purpose of dealing with FTA.

Myers (1989) discovered that politeness strategies are employed explicitly in scientific articles, used to create and maintain a friendly atmosphere for relations, to close distance between authors and audiences and to mitigate the impact of impositions.

Most of the scholars that had studied politeness in different perspectives shares the same opinion that linguistic politeness is generally associated with social behaviour as a strategic conflict avoidance, and the politeness strategies is an arrangement of behave strategies along a continuum from least polite to most polite, also allows them to engage in conflict- free communication,

2.2 Academic Journal as a Genre

An academic journal is a peer-reviewed periodical in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Academic journals serve as forums for the introduction and presentation for scrutiny of new research, and the critique of existing research. Content typically takes the form of articles presenting original research, review articles, and book reviews. The function of a journal is to distribute knowledge.

The Language of Economists in Journal

Donald McCloskey, (1986:5) asserts that economists have two attitudes to their discourse, termed the official and unofficial, the explicit and implicit. He argues that economists in practice don’t follow the rules as laid down by this official methodology, but in reality argue using the unofficial, implicit rhetoric of economics.

3.1. Methodology

Since the present study tries to focus on the analyzing the use of politeness strategies in written texts, the categories used by Myers (1989) adapted from Brown and Levinson (1987) proposed in their book “Politeness; Some Universal in language Usage’ as underlying theoretical structure. According to them, it is possible to define generic types of politeness strategies to explain and predict the adoption of politeness in oral or written discourse.

3.2 Corpus

Corpus will consist of selected articles from local economic journals, namely, Malaysia Journal of Economic Studies published by University Malaya/Malaysian Economic Association and the Journal of Economic Growth by American Economic Association.

These journals were chosen on recommendation by two University Malaya lecturers, Associate Profesor Dr. Rohana Abd. Jani and Dr. Rodia Talib, who are presently the two head of departments from the Faculty of Economics. They have assisted in identifying journals which are considered to be reputable and used frequently as references in the economic field.

3.3 Sample Size

The total number of articles will be 10 articles, that is, five (5) from each of the selected economics journals. A minimum of 50,000 words is expected from the total number of articles.

Systematic sampling technique will be employed in which the first article of every first issue of every year from 2004 to 2008 will be selected as corpus from all the identified local and international economic journals.

3.4 Data Analysis

Discourse analysis will be the main qualitative tool in this study. The study will focus on analyzing the politeness strategies of the selected articles as described earlier. The patterns of politeness strategies identified by Myers (1989) based on Brown and Levinson (1987) politeness framework will be the underlying theoretical structure.

The corpus will be analysed and categorised as positive politeness, negative politeness, bald on record, off record strategies. The tactics employed will be identified such as the use of passives, nominalizations, hedges, acknowledgements, etc.

All the politeness features will be coded and classification. The frequency of these strategies will be included in the presentation of the findings. The strategies found in both local and international journals will be compared to identify which politeness strategies are more predominant and used more frequently.

4.0 Gantt Chart


Aug 08

















Literature Review




Data Collection


Data Analysis




Writing the report











Brown, H.D. 2000. Principles of language learning and teaching (4th ed.), Longman, NY

Brown, P., & Levinson, S.C. 1978. Politeness. Some universals in language usage (2nd ed. 1987). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dudley-Evans and Henderson. 1990. The language of Economics: The Aanalysis of Economic Discourse. University of Birmingham. Macmillan publishers and the British Council.

Gino Eelen. 2001. A Critique of Politeness Theories, St. Jerome Publishing, Manchester

Goffman Erving. 1967. Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face to Face Behavior, Aldine Publishing Company, Chicago, IL

Myers, Greg. 1989. The Pragmatics of Politeness in Scientific Articles. Jurnal of Applied Linguistics, vol.10. no. 1. Oxford University Press.

Mc.Closkey, Donald.1986. The Rhetoric of Economics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Ron Scollon and Suzanne W. Scollon. 2001. Intercultural Communication (second ed.), Blackwell, Malden, MA

Rubinstein, Ariel. 2000. Economic and Languages. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Watts, R.J. 2003. Politeness, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.


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