Social Context, Values and Cultural Identity: A Method for Assessment of Arab and American Attitude to Politeness

Shammas, Nafez Antonious
March 2013
International Journal of Humanities & Social Science;Mar2013, Vol. 3 Issue 5, p132
Academic Journal
This paper investigated the degree of variance in American and Arab attitude to politeness, as based on social values and beliefs. In spite of a general framework of universality, it was revealed that politeness, whether linguistic or normative, rested on the relevant social values of a given speech community. It was only comprehended in its social context and cultural relevance. Arab respondents differed from their American counterparts mainly in matters related to conservativeness, family ties and obligations as a result of social consensus and hierarchy. American respondents reflected more a culture of individualism. However, there was a reasonably unexpected degree of overlap in the values and beliefs of the two parties. The linguistic representation of politeness in Arabic relied mainly on fixed forms as opposed to indirect questions in English. However, because of constant change in our social identity, more research should be conducted on a wider population every decade.


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