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Fatima Zohra Boubendir

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
February 2012
To my beloved parents
For their unconditional love and support
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.