Positive and Negative Politeness: A Cross-Cultural Study of Responding to Apologies by British and Pakistani Speakers

  •  Tahir Saleem    
  •  Uzma Anjum    


Speech etiquette is an essential part of culture, behavior and human communication. Based upon a theoretical framework of politeness and face-threatening acts (FTAs), this study investigates cultural differences in apology responses (ARs) moderated by the threatened face type and the relationship between participants. A discourse completion test, consists of twelve situations is used for data collection. The data was collected from 150 Pakistani Urdu speakers (teachers, doctors, army personals, lawyers, journalists and academicians) working in different institutions and 30 British English speakers (faculty members of English Department, Coventry University, UK, Leeds University, UK and British Association of Applied Linguistics members). The findings reveal that Pakistanis are found using more positive face threatening apology responses (Acceptance and Acknowledgment) including Absolution, Dismissal, Intensifiers, and Acknowledgement with Thanking, Advice, and Suggestion, than British speakers who tend to use both positive FTAs (Acceptance) based on Absolution “That’s Okay”, and Dismissal “no worries at all but be careful next time” and negative FTAs based on Evasion with Deflection and Evasion with Thanking. The findings further illustrate that the understanding and demonstration of politeness and face in conversation functions are susceptible to cultural and sociolinguistic variations.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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