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How and why are women more polite: Some evidence from a Mayan community

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Published in S. McConnell-Ginet, R. Borker, and F. Furman (Eds), 1980 Women and
language in literature and society, Preager Publishers. Reprinted in J. Coates (ed)
Language and gender. Oxford: Blackwell.
... The first two parts, 'Foundations' and 'Developments' concern theoretical aspects of the research. Seven chapters in 'Foundations' show how researchers who are inspired by Brown andLevinson (1978/1987), who were in turn inspired by Goffman (1967), as well as Lakoff (1973) and Leech (1983), have been cultivating the research field of (im)politeness for more than 20 years. They have focused on the issues of face, power, ideology, indexicality and convention, and have contributed to pragmatic theory and sociocultural studies. ...
... The first chapter of the section of 'Foundations,' 'Pragmatic Approaches (Im)politeness' (Jonathan Culpeper and Marina Terkourafi) describes the pragmatic character of the classic theory of politeness. The concept of Face Threating Acts (FTA) (Brown andLevinson 1978/1987) is based on the speech act theory (Austin [1962, Searle 1969: FTAs are speech acts that threaten the face of the speaker or the hearer. Politeness is explained as the principle (Lakoff 1973and Leech 1983 by which the conversational maxims (Grice 1975) are ratified. ...
... 'Sociocultural Approaches to (Im)politeness' (Sara Mills) introduces an interactive sociocultural model of (im)politeness. Brown andLevinson (1978/1987) developed a model of politeness which focuses on the individual speaker who aims to achieve her/his goal in a conversation. Sociocultural approaches, on the other hand, concern the role that society and social norms play in the production and understanding of politeness. ...
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The present paper accentuates the importance of holistic views of the world that is relevant for text studies. The purpose of the study is to establish what language means representing emotions which are attributed to God by biblical characters are utilized, and, subsequently provide their classification. Based on the study of the theological interpretation of the antinomy ‘“the immutability of God” - the emotions of God”, the paper 1) introduces the concept of ‘attribution of emotions’ into the conceptual and terminological apparatus of emotiology thus explicating the specificity of biblical emotive meanings; 2) provides the analysis of the depicted biblical space in the emotive aspect; 3) gives the interpretation of biblical characters’ activity as a cause of emotions attributed to God. Central to the text analysis is the notion of the emotional script. This notion is instrumental in presenting the systemic description of emotion development, i.e. the cause of its origin and the corresponding reaction. The language material of the present study is taken from King James Bible. The methods employed in the study include the definitional, contextual, emotive, and lingua-stylistic analyses with references to the historical and cultural context. The outcomes of the present study include the identification of the lexical means of emotions and the following typology of such lexical units: 1) lexemes denoting the cause of emotions attributed to God; 2) lexemes denoting the emotions attributed to God; and 3) lexemes denoting the biblical space perceived by characters as a ‘reaction’ to emotions attributed to God. Given the theandric nature of Jesus Christ, the depicted emotions of His are treated as manifestations of His human nature. The results obtained have made it possible to fill in linguistic content into one of the antinomies of Christian understanding of God and to outline the prospect of further linguistic research on Christian dogmata from the perspective of emotivity.
... The first two parts, 'Foundations' and 'Developments' concern theoretical aspects of the research. Seven chapters in 'Foundations' show how researchers who are inspired by Brown andLevinson (1978/1987), who were in turn inspired by Goffman (1967), as well as Lakoff (1973) and Leech (1983), have been cultivating the research field of (im)politeness for more than 20 years. They have focused on the issues of face, power, ideology, indexicality and convention, and have contributed to pragmatic theory and sociocultural studies. ...
... The first chapter of the section of 'Foundations,' 'Pragmatic Approaches (Im)politeness' (Jonathan Culpeper and Marina Terkourafi) describes the pragmatic character of the classic theory of politeness. The concept of Face Threating Acts (FTA) (Brown andLevinson 1978/1987) is based on the speech act theory (Austin [1962, Searle 1969: FTAs are speech acts that threaten the face of the speaker or the hearer. Politeness is explained as the principle (Lakoff 1973, Brown and Levinson 1978/1987and Leech 1983 by which the conversational maxims (Grice 1975) are ratified. ...
... 'Sociocultural Approaches to (Im)politeness' (Sara Mills) introduces an interactive sociocultural model of (im)politeness. Brown andLevinson (1978/1987) developed a model of politeness which focuses on the individual speaker who aims to achieve her/his goal in a conversation. Sociocultural approaches, on the other hand, concern the role that society and social norms play in the production and understanding of politeness. ...
... Gender differences have been proposed in a wide range of speech characteristics, including word choice, sentence struc-ture, topic choice, and utterance length (Newman et al., 2008). In particular, Lakoff (1973) also proposed that women's speech is more "polite" than men's, and this has been discussed and studied extensively (Holmes, 1997;Brown, 1980;Newman et al., 2008). ...
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The use of euphemisms is a known driver of language change. It has been proposed that women use euphemisms more than men. Although there have been several studies investigating gender differences in language, the claim about euphemism usage has not been tested comprehensively through time. If women do use euphemisms more, this could mean that women also lead the formation of new euphemisms and language change over time. Using four large diachronic text corpora of English, we evaluate the claim that women use euphemisms more than men through a quantitative analysis. We assembled a list of 106 euphemism-taboo pairs to analyze their relative use through time by each gender in the corpora. Contrary to the existing belief, our results show that women do not use euphemisms with a higher proportion than men. We repeated the analysis using different subsets of the euphemism-taboo pairs list and found that our result was robust. Our study indicates that in a broad range of settings involving both speech and writing, and with varying degrees of formality, women do not use or form euphemisms more than men.
... Gender differences have been proposed in a wide range of speech characteristics, including word choice, sentence struc-ture, topic choice, and utterance length (Newman et al., 2008). In particular, Lakoff (1973) also proposed that women's speech is more "polite" than men's, and this has been discussed and studied extensively (Holmes, 1997;Brown, 1980;Newman et al., 2008). ...
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The use of euphemisms is a known driver of language change. It has been proposed that women use euphemisms more than men. Although there have been several studies investigating gender differences in language, the claim about euphemism usage has not been tested comprehensively through time. If women do use euphemisms more, this could mean that women also lead the formation of new euphemisms and language change over time. Using four large diachronic text corpora of English, we evaluate the claim that women use euphemisms more than men through a quantitative analysis. We assembled a list of 106 euphemism-taboo pairs to analyze their relative use through time by each gender in the corpora. Contrary to the existing belief, our results show that women do not use euphemisms with a higher proportion than men. We repeated the analysis using different subsets of the euphemism-taboo pairs list and found that our result was robust. Our study indicates that in a broad range of settings involving both speech and writing, and with varying degrees of formality, women do not use or form euphemisms more than men.
... Furthermore, Figure 3 shows that women's 'Rejection' rate is slightly higher than that of men, which is again somewhat unexpected and challenges the established stereotype that women are more polite than men (e.g. Brown 1980;Holmes 1989Holmes , 1995Coates 2013). Nevertheless, a caveat should be mentioned, i.e. neither the gender differences found in this study nor those reported in Holmes (1995) are statistically significant. ...
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... as uncertain, weak, and excessively polite, relying on hedges, tag questions, emphatic stress, and hypercorrect grammar. Consequently, women are oftentimes presented as inferior language users or a silenced group (e.g., Brown 1980 ;Bradley 1988 ;Lakoff 1975 ). ...
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