On the universality of the politeness concept of ‘face’: Evaluation strategies for construing ‘good face’ across writing cultures: writers’ voice in academic book reviews
Área de conocimiento
Datos de la obra
International Workshop on the Evaluative Function of Language: Evaluation across Text Types and Cultures, October 6 – 8, 2011, UNED, Madrid, Spain
One important academic writing skill is the ability of writers to construe an appropriate representation of themselves and their work through their textual voice. One way in which writers achieve this is by intruding into their text in order to explicitly signal or conceal their personal responsibility for the ideas referenced in it. However, writers’ decisions in this respect have shown to be highly problematic in English for Academic Purposes (EAP), especially for non-native English speakers. Our paper hypothesizes that a part of this problem might be related to differing crosscultural notions of good face, partly reflected in the ways and the extent to which writers typically intrude into their texts by means of a specific type of evaluation device: writers’ visibility and invisibility strategies. We explore this hypothesis by comparing the actual practices followed by writers from two different but comparable writing cultures to express one specific type of claim (a critical comment on a book under review) in one specific genre (an academic book review) and one disciplinary field (literature). Our comparison is based on two corpora consisting of 20 texts in British & American English and 20 in Castilian Spanish. The results show that reviewers from these two comparable reviewing writing cultures differ greatly in their preferences for reaffirming or suppressing their personal identity when expressing critical comments on a book under review. In particular, the preferred choice by British and American scholars is to create a textual voice for themselves that presents itself as speaking on behalf of other readers, thus creating a perspectivizing face-saving effect. By contrast, Castilian Spanish literary scholars prefer to create an objectivizing face-saving effect by speaking on behalf of an impersonal entity. This conclusion has implications for Politeness Theory since it indicates that the notion of good face is culturally determined in this respect. We discuss our results in the light of information obtained through a pilot e-mail interview with relevant informants.This presentation is Ana I. Moreno’s short version of the full-length paper published as Moreno and Suárez (2011) (see full details below) with a greater emphasis on the concept of good face (drawn from O’Driscoll, 1996) for its usefulness and relevance in crosscultural studies of academic writing. The paper was presented under the title ‘Evaluation across reviewing writing cultures: writers’ intrusion into the expression of critical comments on academic books under review’ at the Int-Eval: International Workshop on the Evaluative Function of Language: Evaluation across Text Types and Cultures, October 6 – 8, 2011, UNED, Madrid, Spain.
Academic Book Reviews
Academic Book Reviews