Attitude and Its Situatedness in Linguistic Politeness
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For over thirty years, linguistic politeness has been constructed based upon the work of Lakoff (1975) and, particularly, Brown and Levinson (1978, 1987). Their seminal contributions, however, may elide other social constructions of linguistic politeness. Thus, this paper presents and represents a different positioning and experience that have not been previously attended to, especially the lived experiences of Black women in U.S. contexts. Key questions addressed are: How does politeness operate in the African American speech community? How does one linguistic practice, talking with an attitude, fit within that model of politeness? This work assesses one component of politeness based upon socially real engagements of African American women who situate themselves within the African American speech community, interrogating their own behavior. Using Afrocentric feminist epistemology as one theoretical frame, I conducted qualitative research, interviewing Black women in different communities of practice. From their words and lived experiences, the co-researchers construct attitude as a broad concept that can be displayed in language and/or kinesics. Its meanings and functions derive from social context and community norms.
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