Linguistic Politeness in English and Arabic
And its Implications for Translation
Fatima Zohra Boubendir
A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Translation
Supervisor: Dr. Nafez Shammas
To my beloved parents
For their unconditional love and support
First, I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Nafez Shammas, for all his guidance, encouragement, support, and patience. He has been a great inspiration to me. He provided me with extensive guidance and taught me a great deal about scientific research. He has taught me more than I could ever give him credit for here.
I would also like to thank all the staff of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Petra University for their instructions and assistance in the various courses.
Special thanks are due to the respondents, without whom I would not have been able to get appropriate findings. I do heartily appreciate their time and effort.
Nobody has been more important to me in the pursuit of this project than the members of my family back home in Algeria; I would like to thank my parents, whose love and guidance have been with me in whatever I pursued. They are the ultimate role models. I want to thank my sisters and brother for always standing by my side and cheering me up.
I also wish to thank my second family here in Jordan, my fiancé Mohammad, Mama Souad and Baba Yousef. They have been loving, supportive and made my journey here enjoyable and memorable.
Special thanks go to my friends for their help and support through all the stages of this dissertation; they have made my life easier.
This study investigates the area of linguistic politeness and the translatability of politeness formulas in English and Arabic. Expressions of linguistic politeness in Arabic are attempted for translation into English and the concept of politeness as a reflection of both normative and linguistic behavior is defined and discussed.
Both qualitative, i.e. analytical, and quantitative, i.e. statistical, methods are used in this research. The data consists of questionnaires that were given to Arabic native speakers and English native speakers. All the results are tabulated and the differences in both normative and linguistic polite (or impolite) behavior are tackled in a way that reflects the variance in social values and socio-cultural structures of the two groups under study.
The findings reveal that Arabic native speakers have difficulties trying to translate Arabic culture-specific i.e. „lingua-pragmatic‟ polite formulas into English. English native speakers could not provide any translation for Arabic polite formulas because of their little knowledge of Arabic. However, the study shows that the social values incarnating politeness in both societies under study were getting closer despite the noticeable differences. The study also showed that Arabs use fixed expressions more than Britons and Americans do. The Britons and Americans resort more to syntactic structures to avoid imposition and conflict that can lead to possible confrontation.