The Sociolinguistic Analysis of Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” in terms of Brown and Levinson’s Politeness Theory

Biook Behnam, Sepideh Rafiei Sakhaei, Nesa Nabifar

Abstract


This paper reports a comprehensive study of the politeness phenomenon in Pinter’s well-known play, “The Birthday party”. It aims at figuring out how politeness strategies are used by the characters and how the variables of power and distance influence the choice of politeness levels. In order to analyze the play’s text Brown and Levinson’s (1987) universal model of politeness was used. The model is characterized by three variables which are power, distance and rank extremity. Careful screening of the dialogues demonstrates that a good many of politeness strategies were used in the drama. However, different preferences were found in the use of the strategies towards the positive pole. Regarding the social distance the findings are consistent with Brown and Levinson’s theory predictions. The findings of this study suggest that the assertion of power is a complicated process which can not merely be explained by the high frequency of the use of certain strategies and an interlocutor’s power depends upon many factors like the role of the interlocutor and his/her status in the particular interaction, and in relation to the addressee.

 


Keywords


Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory, Distance, Face work, Politeness strategies, Power, “The Birthday party” play

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.3n.4p.80

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