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Impoliteness and Entertainment in the Television Quiz Show: The Weakest Link Jonathan Culpepper Becky Raymond Mariame Bagaté. Overview. Define Impoliteness Model of Impoliteness Impoliteness and Entertainment The Weakest Link Implication for Second Language Learning.
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Impoliteness and Entertainment in the Television Quiz Show: The Weakest Link Jonathan Culpepper Becky Raymond Mariame Bagaté
Overview • Define Impoliteness • Model of Impoliteness • Impoliteness and Entertainment • The Weakest Link • Implication for Second Language Learning
The phenomenon of impoliteness – how offense is communicated and taken What impoliteness is not • Impoliteness is not incidental offenses • Impoliteness is not unintentional. • Impoliteness is not banter. Banter or mock impoliteness remains on the surface because it is understood in particular contexts not to be true • Impoliteness is not bald on record (BOR) politeness (direct and occurs in specific contexts)
The Notion of Face • Face =the positive social value a person claims for him/herself, reputation; dignity; prestige; self-worth • Face attacks are communicative acts perceived by members of a social community (and often intended by speakers) to be purposefully offensive.
First Definition • Culpepper defined impoliteness in collaboration with other researchers. They went beyond the single speaker’s utterance lexically and grammatically defined, and restated impoliteness as “communicative strategies designed to attack face, and thereby cause social conflict and disharmony” (1996, 2003) • However, per Culpepper this definition fails to take adequately into account what the hearer is doing
Revised Definition of Impoliteness Impoliteness comes about when: (1) the speaker communicates face-attack intentionally or (2) the hearer perceives and/or constructs behavior as intentionally face-attacking or a combination of (1) and (2).
Impoliteness The key aspect of this definition is that it makes clear that impoliteness is constructed in the interaction between the speaker and the hearer. Perhaps the prototypical instance of impoliteness involves both (1) and (2), the speaker communicating face attack intentionally and the hearer perceiving/constructing it as such.
Impoliteness (continued) • Notion of intention • Notion of offense Impoliteness has two layers: the offensive information being expressed by the utterance and that the information is being expressed intentionally.
Revising the notion of face: Components of “rapport management” Face • Quality face: our personal qualities, e.g., our confidence, abilities, appearance etc. • Social identity face: uphold our social identities or roles, e. g., as group leader, valued customer, close friend. Sociality rights:(defined as fundamental personal/social entitlements that a person effectively claims for him/herself in his/her interactions with others • Equity rights- right to be treated fairly • Association rights- entitled to associate with others
Model of Impoliteness Culpepper’s model of impoliteness stresses • Context-impoliteness comes about in the interaction between linguistic and nonlinguistic signals and the context, and so context must be fully factored in. • Super strategies that are revised to fit Spencer-Oatey’s categorization of face or “rapport management”
Impoliteness as Entertainment- 4 Factors Intrinsic Pleasure Something is engaging about argument for its own sake The thrill is in the potential for violence Voyeuristic pleasure These shows trade in the exploitation of human weakness for the sake of voyeuristic pleasure
Continued Audience is superior There is self-reflexive pleasure in observing someone in a worse state than oneself Audience is safe
Standard chat shows vs. exploitative chat shows • Standard shows treat guests with a degree of deference • Exploitative chat shows seem more intent on humiliating the “guests” • Subversion of the politeness norms of standard shows • Face damage • Use of formulae and clever use of language – ritualized banter
The Weakest Link • Game show aired on BBC since 14 August 2000 • Licensed version in many other countries • Contestants take turn answering general knowledge questions • Create a chain of correct answers to earn an increasing amount of money • End of each round contestants vote one player out of the game
Host: Anne Robinson Famous for verbal put downs which work by “devaluing” the personal attributes of the target contestants - they attack quality face • Who isn’t performing? • Who is a waste of rations? • Who is several sandwiches short of a picnic? • Whose train fare could have been better spent? • Did you go to school? • Lost the plot? • Running on empty? The questions achieve their impoliteness by implication
Mimicry When a speaker attempts an absolute (near perfect) match with another person’s prosody Mimicry is a distortion – a caricature Equal Rights impoliteness – casts judgment down from a position of power, attacks social identity face – implies that a speaker’s identity characteristic (accent, etc) is odd or unpleasant
Sarcasm Is insincere off-record politeness: not a genuine attempt to avoid causing offense Anne: Shaun, you’re a traffic management operative. What do you actually do? Shaun: Er, put traffic cones in the road Anne: You don’t Shaun: I do Anne: Well, what an interesting person you turned out to be Anne’s surprise implicates Shaun’s job is extremely mundane – she attacks his Social Identity Face
Catchphrases You are the weakest link, good-bye! gfhfghgf good-bye! • You leave with You leave with nothing!
Clips Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JbO2kgOuts Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSuWn3JAM7g
Question? Is there really impoliteness in The Weakest Link?
Is there really impoliteness in the Weakest Link? Is offense really communicated and taken by the participants? Impoliteness is not inherent in the particular linguistic strategies which we have discussed Politic behavior – perceived to be appropriate to the social constraints of the ongoing interaction Politeness – perceived to go beyond what is expectable, i.e. salient behavior
If politic behavior is “missing” it tends to lead to an evaluation of a participant’s behavior as ‘impolite’, ‘brash’, ‘inconsiderate’, ‘rude’ Does the Weakest Link sanction or neutralize face-threat or impolite behavior? Even if behavior is “neutralized” it doesn’t mean that the target won’t take offense at the perceived face attack
Culpepper – impoliteness only exists when it is classified as such by certain, usually dominant, community members and/or when it leads to a breakdown in relations. “It is in the ear of the hearer” • The impoliteness value of an utterance is partly determined by the activity of which it is a part • The high salience of impoliteness behaviors makes it very difficult for targets to neutralize them by factoring in context.
Questions to the class • What have you experienced as impoliteness while living in the United States? Were these experiences due to linguistic misunderstanding or cultural misunderstanding? • Do you think English language teachers should teach impoliteness? • How?