Positive and Negative Face

When we attempt to save another’s face, we can pay attention to their negative face wants or their positive face wants. A person’s negative face is the need to be independent, to have freedom of action, and not to be imposed on by others. The world “negative” here doesn’t mean “bad”, it’s just the opposite pole from “positive”. A person’s positive face is the need to be accepted, even liked, by others, to be treated as a member of the same group, and to know that his or her wants are shared by others. In simple terms, negative face is the need to be independent and positive face is the need to be connected.

So, a face saving act which is oriented to the person’s negative face will the tend to show deference, emphasize the importance of the other’s time or concerns, and even include an apology for the imposition or interruption. This is also called negative politeness. A face saving act will is concerned with the person’s positive face will tend to show solidarity, emphasize that both speakers want the same thing, and that they have a common goal. This is also called positive politeness. Figure; How to get a pen from someone else (following Brown and Levinson 1987)

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Say Nothing For example, you arrive at an impotant lecture, pull out your notebook to take notes, but discover that you don’t have anything to write with. You think that the person sitting next to you may provide the solution. In this scenario, you are going to be ‘Self’ and the person next to you is going to be ‘Other’. You may be choose to be silent or do not say any word, but you start to rummage in your bag, search rather obviously through your pockets, go back into your bag, and go on. That’s what we called ‘Say Nothing’.

This approach may or may not work, but if it does, it’s because the other offers and not because the self asks, as in: Self: (look in bag) Other: (offers pen) Here, you can use this. Say Something Sometimes, when you were in that situation, you decided to say something to convey what is happening to you. Such as after you lost your pen, and you realize there are other people there, either directly or indirectly, you want them to know what was going on. Thus we would like to remark to represent. This kind of action can be divided into two ways, the first is ‘Off Record’ and the second is ‘On Record’.

Off Record and On Record Even if you decide to say something, you don’t actually have to ask for anything. You can simply produce a statement of the type in a or b: a. Uh, I think i lose my pen. b. Hmm, I wonder where I put my pen last time. These, or other similar types of statement, are not directly addressed to the other. The other can act as if the statement have not even been heard. They are technically described as being off record. But even so, an off record statement may or may not succeed, but if it does, it will be because more has been communicated than was said.

In contrast to such off record statements, you can directly address the other as a means of expressing your needs. These direct address forms are technically described as being on record. Bald On Record Clear examples: a. Give me a pen or something. b. Lend me your pen. Some people is directly asked for something they need. The most direct approach, using imperative forms such as those examples above, is known as bald on record. But sometimes, these bald on record forms may be followed by expressions like ‘please’ and ‘would you? ’ which serve to soften the demand and are called mitigating devices, as in: a.

Give a pen or something please… b. Would you like to lend me your pen a few minutes? However, generally speaking, bald on record expressions are associated with speech events where the speaker assumes that he or she power over the other and can control the other’s behavior with words. In everyday interaction between social equals, such bald on record behavior would potentially represent a threat to the other’s face and would generally be avoided. Avoiding a face threatening act is accomplished by face saving acts which use positive or negative politeness strategies.

Face Saving Act: Positive and Negative Politeness Within people’s everyday social interactions, people generally behave as if their expections concerning their public self-image, or their face wants, will be respected. If a speaker says something that represents a threat to another individual’s expectations regarding self-image, it is described as a face threatening act. Alternatively, given the possibility that some actions might be interpreted as a threat to another’s face, the speaker can say something to lessen the possible threat. This is called a face saving act.

A positive politeness strategy leads the requester to appeal to a common goal, and even friendship, via expressions such as: a. How about letting me use your pen? b. Hey, princess, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me use your beautiful pen like your beautifulness today. These on record expressions do represent a greater risk for the speaker os suffering a refusal and may be preceded by some ‘getting to know you’ talk, of the kind presented in the example below, designed to astablish the necessary common ground for this strategy. Hi. How’s it going? Okay if I sit here?

We must be intersted in the same crazy stuff. You take a lot of notes too, huh? Say, do me a big favor and let me use one of your cool pens. However, in most English-speaking contexts, a face saving act is more commonly performed via a negative politeness strategy. The most typical form used is a question containing a modal verb such as: a. Could you lend me a pen? b. I’m sorry to bother you, but can I ask you for a pen or something? Conversation Analysis (Schegloff, Sacks, Jefferson). Rigorous, atheoretical, inductive, empirical examination of conversational structure.

Some results demonstrate sequential patterning of face-work (authors would disagree with face management interpretation). For example, pre-sequences (specifically, pre-requests) 1) A: Doing anything? 2) B: Nah, 3) A: Want to look at my computer now? 4) B: Sure Analysis (following Levinson): (1) check on potential obstacles; will request succeed? Can avoid making request if likely to not succeed. B can offer following (1), request is avoided altogether Many other examples: moves to avoid/lessen disagreement; self-disclosure, etc.

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Positive and Negative Face. (2016, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/positive-and-negative-face/