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Title: Ritual refusals and face-work: A Cross-Cultural Pragmatic Investigation
Authors: Eshreteh, Mahmood
Keywords: Refusal, Ritual, Politeness, Face, Pragmatics.
Issue Date: 1-Jan-2016
Publisher: Hebron University Research Journal B
Citation: Eshreteh, M. (2016). Ritual refusals and face-work: A Cross-Cultural Pragmatic Investigation. Hebron University Research Journal B, 11 (2). 210-221.
Abstract: This qualitative study explores the pragmatic functions of ritual refusal as used in Palestinian Society. The significance of this paper rises from the fact that it attempts to highlight potential causes of pragmatic failure and breakdown in cross-cultural communication. Brown and Levinson’s (1987) and Leech’s (1983) models of linguistic politeness are considered as a theoretical framework of the study. Naturally occurring data were collected ethnographically from two situations. Analysis of data shows that ritual refusals by Palestinians are rooted in maintaining face which is oriented toward a person’s public image. In Palestinian Arabic, it is necessary to preserve the interlocutor’s face and to leave a way out for the refuser him/herself. In Palestinian society, the refuser finds it more important to make his/her addressee feel wanted, and to be considerate of his/her wants and feelings than it is to be honest or direct, whereas the opposite is the case in the USA where honesty is a sign of friendship. Therefore, ritual refusal in Palestinian Arabic has taken on the pragmatic functions of minimizing imposition and expressing intimacy and connectedness. The refusal is thus used both accompanied by a positive politeness strategy, establishing a friendly context for the interaction, and by a negative politeness strategy aimed at minimizing imposition and softening negative statements. These pragmatic functions reflect the role of ritual refusal in Palestinian colloquial discourse as a device utilized by Palestinians to mark, establish, or assert social relationships including connectedness and solidarity.
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