Cooperative Principle and Politeness Principle in English-speaking and Chinese Cultures

Abstract: The Cooperative Principle and Politeness Principle are widely known pragmatic principles used to interpret the literal sense and pragmatic force of utterances, and there exists a "trade-off relationship between them. However, they are not universal when different cultures are taken into account. Therefore, this thesis seeks to provide insight into the universality, specificity and relationship between CP and PP from the cultural angle, in the hope of broadening the field of contrastive study and helping people to communicate appropriately in cross-cultural communication.This paper falls into four chapters.The first chapter reviews the major research done by Chinese scholars, and points out the objects and significance of this study.Chapter Two examines the application of CP in English-speaking and Chinese cultures, especially examining the cultural aspects which have been used to explain why Chinese behavior does not necessarily conform to the CP. Generally, there are five aspects are highlighted. First of all, it is concerned with the concept of high-context culture. In high-context culture, most information lies either in the setting or in thepeople who are conversing. Therefore, much information can be sensed, and does not have to be conveyed. The second aspect is finial piety. Because pan-clanism is valued in China, a person is not a separate and independent entity and is subject to the dictates of family and community. Consequently, he must keep his behavior in check, comply with the doctrines of mean, and when he speaks, he must usually conform to the Maxims of Tact and Agreement of PP. On the other hand, Chinese frequently violate the Maxims of Quantity, Quality, and Manner of CP, for the sake of harmony. The third aspect is connected with hierarchy. In hierarchical society, the giving of information is uneven. Fourth, because China is a land of ceremony and etiquette with a long history, people tend to express emotions indirectly for the sake of politeness and frequently sacrifice the Maxim of Quality. The final aspect lies in the structure of Chinese language, a loose structure that promotes ambiguity.Chapter Three contrastively studies different politeness phenomena, compares Leech's PP and Gu's PP, and tentatively rectifies and complements Gu's PP based on the Chinese cultural background. The cultural roots that underlie the formulation of English PP and Chinese PP have also been examined. In English-speaking culture, individualism, privacy, equality, and assertiveness are valued most, while in Chinese culture, collectivism, large-power distance, harmony, the doctrines of mean, and Confucius' Li and Ren are highlighted.Chapter Four rounds off the discussion by reviewing the general idea of this paper: (1) Chinese violate or sacrifice the CP except in certain proscribed situations; (2) Chinese culture gives PP a higher value and gives precedence to the Modesty Maxim realized by self-depreciation; (3) both English-speakers and Chinese are politeness-loving people, but each group possesses its own unique way of showing politeness; (4) through rectification and complement, Gu's PP is made more convincing…
Key words: idiom; culture vacancy; translation; pragmatic equivalence; adaptability theory

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