Cultural outsiders’ reported adherence to Finnish and French politeness norms

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Abstract

Given the contested notion of culture, intercultural (im)politeness represents an understudied area of research. Yet, (im)politeness research should examine broader social forces. Drawing upon data from five focus group discussions and their dialogical discourse analysis, my study relies on the discursive approach and relational work (Locher and Watts, 2005). My study shows that cultural outsiders reported adhering differently to cultural politeness norms as resources. As such, a reported low tolerance for pragmatic variation in the Finnish and French cultures appears to carry two consequences. First, Finnish and French participants reported changing their adherence to cultural politeness norms in order to follow behavior that better corresponds to the expectations framed by the target culture, and to avoid negatively marked behavior judged as impolite/inappropriate. Second, participants who reported adhering less to the politeness norms of their culture of origin found a better match between their behavior and the dominant politeness norms in the target culture, which carried positive consequences related to constructing their identity. Finally, the close link between relational work and identity construction demonstrated that although participants reported adhering to the politeness norms of the target culture, they emphasized teaching their children the politeness norms of their culture of origin.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Volume155
Pages (from-to)177–192
Number of pages16
ISSN0378-2166
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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