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Politeness strategies in Saudi ESL computer-mediated communication

, Arizona State University, United States

Arizona State University . Awarded


This study investigates certain crucial aspects of politeness used by Saudi male students using English as a Second Language (ESL) in their discourse through electronic mail (e-mail). There are two purposes in this study: (1) to examine the politeness strategies used by ESL students to mitigate their disagreements in e-mail discussion, and (2) to evaluate the applicability of Brown and Levinson's theory of politeness and face to these e-mail data.

The data were collected in a three-month period (June, July, and August, 1999) from three list serves in the United States and analyzed for the ways politeness strategies were employed by Saudi students to mitigate their disagreements. Definitions of politeness strategies were taken from Brown and Levinson's theories regarding “negative face” and “positive face.”

Brown and Levinson's concept of “face” as dichotomous, either “positive” or “negative,” were ambiguous in interpreting many of the politeness acts in the data. The researcher argues that, instead of a dichotomy concept, there is a continuum between positive and negative face and politeness strategies.

The politeness strategies used by Saudis in this study to mitigate their disagreements are important and essential to the successful use of a second language. Finally, the study proposes an alternative and significant modification of Brown and Levinson's theories of politeness and face.


Al-Shalawi, H.G. Politeness strategies in Saudi ESL computer-mediated communication. Ph.D. thesis, Arizona State University. Retrieved November 29, 2023 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.

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