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    Comparison on Making Polite Requests in English an Essay

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    d in ChineseAbstract: Polite requests play an important role in daily communication. Different culture has various ways of making request. In order to get ridof misunderstanding, it is necessary to clarify the different politeexpression of making request in diverse culture. This paper chooses tocompare English and Chinese polite request making.

    Key words: Politeness; Request; English; ChineseIntroduction With the development of mass media andinformationtechnology,communicative borders are removed and people become closer and closer. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the different lifestyles ofvarious cultural community. However, the main reasons ofsuccessfulcommunication does not only include how well a language is spoken, but alsosome personal and cultural elements. When considering social context, non-verbal communication plays an important role in language learning. A veryinteresting topic in this large field is politeness, since forms ofpoliteness are often misinterpreted and lead to misunderstandings. So Ichose to have a closer look at the differences between politeness inChinese and English.

    Politeness is known as a courteous manner that displays respects, showdeference in society where people live and communicate together (OEDonline). Furthermore, according to Brown and Levinson (1978), politenesstheory is the speaker’s expressions use toward receiver in soft manner ofFace Threaten Acts (FTAs) to saving face of addressees. There are four mainstrategies in politeness theory as: bald-on record, positive politeness,negative politeness and off record. Bald- on record, a type is commonlywith people known each other very well and very comfortable in theirenvironment, is reduce the impact of FTAs. Off record is removing thespeakers from any imposition whatsoever (Zhan, 1992).

    “Positive politenessis redress directed to addressee’s positive face” (Brown and Levinson,1978, p. 101), while negative politeness is making a request less intrudeinto a person’s private. Alternatively, request is a type of speech of act where the speaker askor demand from the hearer to perform an act which is for the benefit of thespeaker. A request has two parts: head act and modifiers. Head act is themain utterance which conveys a complete request and can stand by itselfwithout any modifiers for express demand. The head act is follow bymodifiers that moderate or exaggerate the impact of the request on theaddressee.

    For example, “Could I borrow your dictionary, please?” where”Could I borrow your dictionary” is head act and “please” is modifier. So, every culture, every language has different ways to making requestsin politeness. Therefore, the scope in this research is compared thedifferences expression of politeness requesting in two languages: Englishand Chinese. Following to House and Kasper (1981), their research claimedthat speakers prefer to choose negative politeness strategies than positivepoliteness because when the relative face threat is high because negativepoliteness strategies are easily compensation than positive politenessstrategies. To evaluate the difference of politeness in making request intwo languages English and Chinese, the research will analysethreedifference situations in classroom, at restaurant and at home.

    Discussion In English grammar, in order to make a polite request, people usuallyuse the modal verbs like can, could, will, would to allow the speaker toask their need by asking for or giving permission, and so on. The formationof making a polite request is: (Leech, Cruickhank, Ivanic, 2001)Modal Verb (Could/ Can/ Will/ Would) + Subject + Base Verb +. . .

    . ?For example, Can you give a book’so, in this sentence, “can” is a modal verb, “you” is subject and “give”is base verb. In Chinese grammar as like as English grammar, speakers useoptatives verbs (e. g.

    ?,??,?)to express wishes, making a request, and havepermissions. Follow to the grammar rule, the optatives verb put before themain verb and add”?” – question particle at the end of the sentence: (Wang,1996)S + Opt. Verb + Main Verb + Obj. + ??(e. g.

    ??????????????) Or in an affirmative-negative question, the negative adverb should beput between the optatives verb instead of the main verb: (Wang, 1996)S + Opt. Verb + ? (Negative Adv. ) + Opt. verb + Main Verb + Obj. ?(e. g.

    ??????????????) Additionally, in imperative sentences or interrogative sentences Englishis adding the conventional expression “please” to make their requests morepolite and to make soften their utterance text (E. g. Please give me a book!or Could you give a book, please?) (Leech, Cruickhank, Ivanic, 2001)On the other hand, Chinese grammar has many strategies to making a requestin politeness by using reduplication of verbs, using particle, usingstructure “verb+ ??”. Most of these strategies have one purpose which ismake the soften tone of speech of act (Zhan, 1992).

    Firstly, reduplicated verbs are be used to express short and informalactions, and to soften the tone of speakers in imperative sentences. For amonosyllabic verbs, “?” is often inserted between the verb and itsreduplication, and for the disyllable verbs, the formation is follow ABABpattern (Wang, Yihua, 1996). For example,. ?????,??????(Please wait for me, I am coming immediately. ).

    ????????????????(Is that magazine good? Can you introduce it to me?) Following the Chinese grammar rule, only actionverbscanbereduplicated because action verb can be continued and be replaced again andagain (Wang, 1996). However, some verbs cannot be reduplicated such as?,?,?, ?,?,? (Zhan, 1992). Secondly, using particles is another way to make the tone of requestersofter. There are many particles in Chinese language such as: ?,?,?,?,soon. These particles express different tone of speech and different functionwhen they are placed in different position in sentence (Zhan, 1992). Particles “?and ?” will be scoped when they play an important role formaking the tone of speech more softening.

    Therefore, the requester is used?after a vocative with the purpose of softening the speech (e. g. ???,??? ???? ????- Lily, you see my pen on the table, don’t you?). Apart from particle?, there is the modal particle? which is often placed at the end ofimperative sentences in order to make a request or to give a command,advice to hear the sound softer (e.

    g. ??????,??????!- Can you bring a dishof fried peanut, and two bottles of beer, please!) Thirdly, the structure formation “verb+ ??” is also used in imperativesentences to imitate the voice of requester. Its role indicates a tentativeaction (Zhan, 1992). For example,.

    ?????!( Can you come out for a little while?) (Zhan, 1992). ???????!(You should go to sleep a while! ) In conclusion, to compare Chinese and English languages in makingpolite request in soften the tone of speech, Chinese people most use verbreduplicated, particles “?” “?”, “verb+ ??” ; while in English, people use”kind of”, “sort of”, “. . .

    if you can” or ” could you mind. . . ” instead ofChinese strategies (Zhan, 1992). Besides different from some strategiesgrammar, making a politeness request in English and Chinese is alsoinvolved in culture.

    Because of cross-linguistic and cross -culturaldifferences; therefore, English and Chinese have different in addressingterms at starting request. Addressees in English according to the “title ofgender/ professional + surname” for strangers such as: Mr. (for adultmales) Banki, Mrs. (for married women) Arrol, Miss (for unmarried women)Lee,andMs. (forunknownmarriedwomen)Politis(Yin,lu,2009). Additionally, English people are often addressed their names rathertheir social title in close relationship.

    Conversely, in Chinese peoplelike to addressed “surnames + title or occupation” to show respect informal or informal occasions, such as: ???,???,???,???, ???. . . (Wu,zhongwei, 2003).

    Moreover, Chinese people use family term to addresseestrangers or people elder than speakers. For instance, children call toadults who they meet at first time with “??-aunty” or “??/??-uncle”, to oldpeoplewith”??-grandpa”or”??-grandma”. Fortheirfriends/schoolmates/colleagues, they use term “?/?+ name” (e. g.

    ??, ? ?), orkinship term in “??/??” (Kane, 2006). Additionally, Chinese people also usethe honorific word “?-you” to show their respect to addressee, whereas inEnglish do not have this form. After all, in classroom, at restaurant and at home are three differentsituations examples that are discussing to demonstrate the using ofstrategies to make politeness requests. In classroom: (Wu zhongwen, 2003)Chinese English??:??,??,????????????:?,??????:???????????:???????,???????:???????????:????? Mary: Excuse-me, Mr. Zhang,is this your dictionary?Mr.

    Zhang: Yes, it’s mine. Mary: What do you think of this dictionary?Mr. Zhang: It’s very good and very useful. Mary: May I use it for a moment?Mr. Zhang: Of course.

    In this situation, the Chinese speaker gives his deference to histeacher by using the honorific form “?”. By starting the conversation, headdresses the occupation of listener and then keeps using the conventionalpolite expression “??” to ask a question. Moreover, he uses the optativesverb “?” in negative and the “verb+ ??” for asking the permission using theteacher’s dictionary. As well as in Chinese, Mary also use “Excuse-me” asthe conventional polite expression to start communicating. She use socialtitle “Mr.

    ” to address Zhang teacher; and by asking a permission borrowinga dictionary, she use interrogative sentence with modal verb “may”. At home: (Huang Zhengcheng, 1996)Chinese??:??,????????????????:??????????:?????:?????:??,???????????:??????:?????,? ?????”????”????:?!EnglishDavid: Dad, I ‘m going to post office to send a letter. Do you want to buyanything?Chen: Please give me some stamps. David: How many do you want?Chen: Five.

    Lili: David, could you buy for me some envelopes?David: How many do you want?Lili: Ten. Please, can you get me a copy of China Pictorial as well?David: O. K For this situation, the speaker speak to his family members to tell themwhere he going. He shows his respect to his father by using honorific form””?”, while in English, the speaker just address “you”. The father reply byusing imperative sentence to demand his wants.

    In Chinese, the elder peopleor high status, or the close relationship has more power; therefore theyoften command to the youth or powerless people via imperative sentences,such as” ???????”. However, English people useindirectformviainterrogative sentences tends for more polite like “Please, can you get mea copy of China Pictorial as well?”At restaurant: (Wu zhongwei, 2003)Chinese??1: ???, ???!???: ??, ???????1: ?? ????. ???: ????,??????? 2: ????????:???,?????3:????????,??????:?,?????,??????????1:??!EnglishCustomer 1: waiter!Waiter: Yes, sir! Are you ready to order?Customer 1: I’d like a bottle of beer. Waiter: Excuse-me, Madam, what do you want to drink.

    Customer 2: I’ll have a cup of coffee. Waiter: And you?Customer 3: A glass of coke, please. Thank you. Waiter: O. K. please wait a while, your order will be ready in a minute.

    . . . Customer 1: Can I pay the bill, please? The difference between Chinese and English in this situation is usingaddresses. The service boy uses “??, ??, ???” to address the elderly peopleand children; whereas in English way the waiter uses social status “sir,madam” for respect the customer. To reply polite the asking of waiter’sorder, customers add conventional polite expression “please” or “I’d like/I’ll have”.

    In other words, Chinese customers use verbs “?, ?” to suggesttheir requests. Besides some verbs, Chinese people also use “?”, theparticle “?”, “???”, reduplicated verb “???” to give an order. Because ofinfluenced of Chinese culture, customers have more power, so they give acommand through the imperative sentence “??!” without the conventionalpolite expression. Conclusion To sum up, the goal is to compare different expression of Chinese andEnglish languages in order to have polite requests or orders to addressee.

    After researching and comparing two languages, even though English andChinese request can be used with interrogative and imperative sentences,but there are many strategies of politeness in the Chinese language becauseChinese are affected in Chinese culture and grammar. Chinese people applydirect request form in the small size of face-threatening act, whileEnglish speakers use indirect form in either small or big of facethreatening act. Although Chinese and English have some different way toexpress the politeness in making request, but both two languages have onepurpose that is softening the tone of speech between requesters andaddressees by keeping a proper distance, since politeness is an importantrole in the smoothly and efficiently communication. Reference List:Brown, P. ; S, Levinson. (1978).

    Politeness: Some Universals in LanguageUsage. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press. House, J. ; Kasper, G.

    (1981). Politeness Markets in English and German inConversationRoutine. The Hague: Mouton de Gruyter. Huang, Z. C.

    (1996). Chinese for today, book 1 2nd ed. HongKong: theCommercial Press Ltd. Kane, D.

    (2006). The Chinese Language: Its History and Current Usage. Singapore: TuttlePublising. Lu, Y. (2009).

    Cultural Differences of Politeness in English and Chinese. Asian Social Science56 154-1156. Leech, G. ;Cruickshank, B. ; Ivanic, R.

    (2001). An A-Z of English Grammar ;Usage. Malaysia: Longman. Wang, Y.

    (1996). Practical Chinese Reader Companion. United States ofAmerica: Cheng ;Tsui Company. Zhan, K. (1992).

    The Strategies of Politeness in the Chinese Language.

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