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Politeness in letters to the editor in Philippine English, American English, and Singaporean English

Sydney D. Gonzales

Date of publication:

December 31, 2002

Letters to the editor provide practice in the art of taking a stand
and defending it in order to bring a problem or an issue to the people or
institutions concerned Using Brown and Levinson's (1987) model, this study attempts to examine the differences in politeness strategies in three different cultures. It will investigate cross-cultural differences in
politeness strategies employed in writing letters to the editor in Philippine, Singaporean, and American English. Forty-five letters to the editor written in Philippine, Singaporean, and American English, from the leading newspapers published in seven days, were analyzed in terms of organizational patterns, politeness strategies, politeness markers, and cultural influence. 'Discourse bloc' was used as a method of identifying the organization patterns and politeness strategies and markers in each of the forty-five letters. Finally, an adaptation of Brown and Levinson's Politeness Theory to a written text revealed distinct types of 'politeness phenomena' in contrastive rhetoric. This study hopes to reveal the significance in applying politeness theory not only to spoken interaction, but also to written interaction.

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