Title the study of contextual meaning. The study involves



Title Page

An analysis of Politeness Strategies used by the Harry Potter,
Hagrid and Dumbledore in the movie Harry Potter And the Chambers of Secret.

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Submitted by: Asma Ur Rahman

Submitted to: Dr. Fakhira Riaz

Submitted on: January 12, 2018

Department English at Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi



The research in
this proposal deals with the study in field of pragmatics which is a well
acknowledged area in the field of linguistics. There are different definition
of pragmatics depending upon different perspectives. Pragmatics is the study of
speaker meaning. The meaning as communicated by the speaker and as interpreted
by a listener, is the concern of Pragmatics. So, pragmatics has less to do with
what the utterances might mean and more with what is intended by the utterance.
So basically, the ones who produce the utterance are the focus of pragmatics. Pragmatics
is also the study of contextual meaning. The study involves the analysis of
what people mean by their utterances. Thus, it necessitates the study of the
interpretation of what people mean in a particular context and how context
influences what is said. It involves the consideration of how the speakers organize,
what they want to say in accordance to who they are saying it to, when, and
under what situations. The expression of relative distance is as well the focus
of Pragmatics. The perspective this study deals with is that what factor
determines the choice of what is said and what is unsaid. The answer of this
question is tied to the notion of distance. Closeness, which implies shared
experience, whether it is physical, social, or conceptual, is studied. While
communication or being a part of a social interaction, these considerations are
quite important to make the communication process successful. The speaker
determines what needs to be said depending on the assumption of how close or
distant the listener is. The advantage of this kind of study is, one becomes aware
about the intentions, assumptions, purposes or goals and the different sort of
actions they perform when people speak. Moreover, this leads one towards the
awareness of what strategies to use while communicating with other, or those in
the society.

            The proposed topic falls under the umbrella of pragmatics and it
deals with the paradigm of macro linguistics. The paradigm of macro linguistics
incorporates the study of language including the society as a part which
influence this study. The macro linguistics include the society and links it to
the aspects of language study. It falls under the paradigm of macro linguistics,
because it involves the analysis of the interactions made by the speaker in
accordance with the notion of the communication which occurs in the real world.
Moreover, it resembles the way people will have to communicate in a real world,
in a real society and community and as well in accordance to the real
situations. So, this research quite comprehensively lies under the paradigm of
macro linguistics.

proposed research, in this synopsis deals with the analysis of the politeness
strategies used in the movie Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. Mainly,
this research will observe politeness strategies employed by three characters
from the movie namely, Harry Potter (Protagonist), Hagrid (Professor), and
Dumbledore (Head Master). Politeness strategies are a crucial part of human
communication. This study of how to human being communication in a practical
situation and under what circumstance and in what manner, is the real deal in the
field of pragmatics. Politeness strategies have a great importance while
talking about human interaction and communication. Basically, the importance of
these strategies lies in the fact that they make the communication process
refine, smooth and successful. The new perspective, this research is going to
discover involves the idea that how do the people change their linguistic
choices while interacting from one person to another, how do they (people)
fulfil their purpose through these linguistic choices they make. This also
involves the study that in what way the character will manipulate these
linguistic choices. This also involves highlighting different sort of
politeness strategies and how frequently they are used by the characters
selected in the movie. What factors intervene in the communication process
leading to variation in the choice of strategies one makes. Including observation
of another aspect that how frequently the maxims are violated using these
strategies. This research will also find out that do the politeness strategies
necessarily violate the maxims of conversation or one can follow both while interacting
with other.        

Research statement:

            A qualitative analysis of politeness strategies used by the
selected characters in the movie Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets?

Aims and Objectives:

The aim of this
research is to find out:

actually, are these politeness strategies and how they are used while

many different types of strategies are there and how can they be used while

is the significance of using these strategies?

the role of these strategies, so important in the process of communication?

The objectives
of this research are given as follows:

politeness strategies applied by the characters will be observed and extracted.

situations or context in which the change in these strategies take place will
be highlighted.

are the factors other than context which influence the use and preference of
the strategies used by the characters?

Research questions:

kinds of positive and negative politeness strategies are employed by Harry
Potter, Hagrid and Dumbledore in the movie?

are those situations or contexts which lead the characters to use those kinds
of strategies?

is the purpose of those strategies used by characters, in terms of their
intention and function with the choices they made?

these strategies being used have their inclination towards the context or the
relationship more?     

what basis these strategies in the interaction between Harry Potter and
different characters change?


            Is the social relationship in comparison with the context or
situation, a strong factor which influence the choice strategy of politeness
between the addresser and addressee while communicating from the perspective of
the movie?


research will in steadfast manner assist the students to grasp the idea of the
politeness and its use accordingly. Not only they will be familiar to the
functioning of the strategies, but they will also understand how to use these
strategies and how they are used in the different situations

This research
provides a clear knowledge about the sorts of face threatening acts as well.
The knowledge of these strategies in communication will also enable them to
extract examples from their lives as well.

This will also
enable them to analyse the communication around them from the lens of these
strategies. The very same communication process happening around them will
appear to them as a complex and methodological phenomenon. They will also
understand and will be able to differentiate how people use and manipulate
these strategies. 


Literature Review

            In this world every human need to fulfil their needs, which they
accomplish through the communication. Societies are constructed, and people are
classified and identified on basis of the ways and manner they use to interact
and convey their ideas through language. Speaker and hearer constitute the two
parties who must accomplish their communication goals. The choice of language
they use, or the linguistic choices people are of an utmost importance in the
formation of communicative strategies. It would not be wrong if we say that the
type of linguistics choices made or used has led to the formation of the
principles and the strategies, and these strategies are originally constructed
and designed by the communicative practices in the societies and communities which
used them. Hence, there is a need to keep these strategies in view. Now these
strategies hold the value of code of conduct in a language. If not rightly used,
may lead to either failure in communicative process or misinterpretation. Communicative
process not only involves the correct use of certain strategies but also euphemism
has become an important part of everyday life communication. Faser (1983)
describes pragmatic competence as “the knowledge of how an addressee determines
what a speaker is saying and recognizes intended illocutionary force conveyed
through subtle attitudes” (p.30). Without the knowledge, there are cases where
interlocutors cannot understand each other and failure in communication occurs.
One important aspect of pragmatic competence is politeness. Politeness is “the
expression of the speaker’s intention to mitigate face threats carried by
certain face threatening acts towards another” (Mills, 2003, p.6). There are
strategies which the threats can be mitigated by the interlocutors, are called
politeness strategies.

(2003) defined politeness as the ability to please others through external
actions. Moreover, Foley (1997) referred to politeness as “a battery of social
skills whose goal is to ensure that everyone feels affirmed in a social
interaction” (p.270). Politeness has been addressed by different researchers
applying different approaches, as an important aspect if pragmatic competence
and consequently communicative competence. The conversational-maxim view is
derived from Grice’s (1975) theory of meaning and Cooperative Principle (CP) which
explains that you should “make your conversational contribution such as is
required, at the stage which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of
talk exchange in which it you are engaged”. (p. 45). The theory of meaning also
focuses on speaker’s intended meaning and the inferential ability of the
listener, and it states how people use the language. Grice proposed four
conversational maxims including maxim of quality, quantity, relevance and
manner. He insisted that these rules govern conversation. Although Grice’s
maxim didn’t address the notion of politeness directly, they became the basis
of subsequent studies investigating politeness.

the main components of Grice’s approach, Leech (1983) proposed the principle of
including a set of politeness maxims as forms of behaviour that establish and
maintain respect and friendship. Fraser argued that politeness maxims “minimize
the expression of beliefs which are unfavourable to the hearer and at the same
time (but less important) maximum the expression of beliefs which are
favourable to the hearer” (1990, p.225).

(1983) maxims are: Tact (Minimize cost to other; maximize benefit to other),
Generosity (Minimize benefit to self; maximize cost to self), Approbation
(Minimize dispraise of other; maximize praise of other), Modesty (Minimize
praise of self; maximize dispraise of self), Agreement (Minimize disagreement
between self and other) and sympathy (Minimize antipathy between self and

number of studies have also attempted to apply another theory called relevance
theory to the study of politeness (Escandell-Vidal, 1996; Jary, 1998).
Relevance theory is essentially a theory of utterance comprehension from the
perspective of the hearer. The main point of this theory is that all
communication is constrained by the principle of relevance. The principle of
relevance as explained by Sperber and Wilson (1968) is an “every act of
ostensive communication communicates the presumption of its own optimal
relevance” (p. 260). The hearer infers the preferred meaning of an utterance
from among several possible ones relying on the expectation of relevance
created in his/her mind by the utterance based on the clues and
context-mediated information. Relevance theory has been criticized as an
inherently asocial pragmatic theory (Mey & Talbot, 1988).

theory used in the present study is the model of politeness strategy offered by
Brown and Levinson (1987). Most of the research into politeness may be
characterized as somehow related to Brown and Levinson’s theory (Watts, 2003). It
has been preferred model focusing on politeness although different aspects of
this theory have been criticized by many researchers. As the assumptions of the
model were based mainly on just three languages of English, Tzeltal, and Tamil,
the critics mainly the researchers from Asia challenged the university.
According to Ogiermann (2009), “Brown and Levinson’s face is something that
individuals claim for themselves” (p. 13). Asian researchers in their criticism
explained that such an individualistic notion of face couldn’t be applied to
collectivist cultures (Gu, 1990; Mao, 1994; Matsumoto, 1988; Yu, 2001).

and Levinson’s politeness model is founded on the notion of face which was
explained by Goffman as the “positive social value a person effectively claims
for himself by his or her self-presentation” (1967, p. 5). Additionally,
Deutsch (1961) referred to face as “one of an individual’s most sacred
possessions” (p. 897) and insisted that maintaining this possession is
necessary to sustain one’s self-esteem. Brown and Levinson (1987) sought to
develop an explicit model of politeness based on what is to be a human being.

and Levinson (1987) outline four main types of politeness strategies including
bald on-record, positive politeness, negative politeness, and off-record
(indirect). The main idea is realising various strategies used by various
people in their interactional behaviour to satisfy specific wants of face.

Bald on-record

The aim of bald on-record strategies
is to directly address the other person to express his/her needs, not
minimizing the threat to the hearer’s face. Using imperative forms like in the
phrase, give me the book is an example of bald on-record. Using
mitigating devices such as ‘please’ in this phrase please give me the
book can be seen to soften the command in the phrase. There should also be
added that for instance, a command such as don’t touch the switch in an
emergency situation, it has no politeness function.

Furthermore, Culpepur (1996) says
that bald on-record politeness strategy is used when threat to hearer’s face is
very small (e.g., in phrase such as come in and sit down) or in a situation
when the speaker is more powerful than the hearer as in the interaction between
a parent and a child when the parent says: stop complaining.

Positive Politeness

politeness strategies are used to reduce the threat to the hearer’s positive
face (Brown & Levinson, 1987).

Brown and Levinson’s theory (1987) expressed fifteen strategies that can be
used to indicated positive politeness. These strategies include following ones:

and attending to the hearer,

by giving different intonation, tone and other prosodic features or
exaggerating by using intensifying modifier,

interest to hearer,

in-group identity markers,

agreement by the addressee’s statements through using specific statements or

disagreement by using false agreement, by expressing pseudo-agreement, by using
hedge or by making white lies,

common grounds,


the speaker’s concern for the hearer’s wants,

and promising,


both the speaker and the hearer in the activity,

or asking the reason,


gift to the hearer in the form of sympathy, understanding and cooperation in
the conversation,


      Negative politeness strategies refer to
the avoidance of imposition on the hearer and can be considered as is the
desire to remain autonomous using distancing styles like using nodal verbs or
hesitation, apologizing for imposition, asking for permission to ask a
question. Koike (1992) defined negative politeness as “consideration of the
listener’s wish to be unimpeded in taking action and having attention” (p. 21).

Based on the
theory of politeness by Brown and Levinson (1987), strategies can be used to
show negative politeness including the following ones:


questions and hedges,

pessimistic (i.e. being pessimistic whether the hearer wants to do what we ask
or not),

the imposition,

deferent to the hearer,


speaker and hearer by making your addressee unmentioned,

expression rather than mentioning the addressee directly,


on record as incurring a debt, or as not indebting the hearer,


      Off-record strategy was explained by Brown
and Levinson (1987) as the use of indirect language to remove the speaker from
the potential to be imposing. There are fifteen strategies indicating
off-record politeness as is explained by Brown and Levinson’s theory (1987).
These strategies are the following:


association clues,


or saying less than is required,

or giving information more than what is needed,

tautologies (uttering patent and necessary truth),




rhetorical questions that do not require any answer,



and not naming the hearer or addressing him directly,


 Being incomplete by using ellipsis,


As politeness
relates to the concept of appropriateness, thus the language users must use
language appropriately. For a smooth social interaction, politeness is a
requirement. According to Wardaugh, politeness is the most crucial aspect in
language use as we must consider other people’s feeling. Robin Lakoff, as
quoted by Fukushima, argues that politeness is prioritize to avoid offence than
to achieve clarity. Hence, to make social relations to go well, politeness is a
crucial to language use. Consideration and awareness of interlocutor’s face is
related to the social relations, going well.

When certain
act run in adverse to the face wants of the addresser or addressee in
communication, they can threaten their face. In other words, these are face
threatening acts. A speaker can use positive and negative politeness to avoid
threat to hearer’s face. This is in fact, a fair strategy to reduce the face
threatening act based in the parameters of Power, Distance and the Rate of
imposition. therefore, a friction in the social interaction will occur if an
addresser without an effort to maintain addressee’s face performs a FTA.  

Research Methodology

            The methodology applies in this research is qualitative. This
involves is no statistical process. The researcher will analyse and describe
the politeness strategies used in the movies by the three character which she
has selected.

Data analysis

researcher will use the movie ‘Harry Potter And the Chambers of Secret’ and it’s
screenplay written by Steven Kloves as the unit of its analysis. The technique
of data analysis used by the researcher is descriptive. This technique employs
noting, separating, and classifying the utterances in the film’s dialogues into
appropriate politeness strategies. Then, by using Brown and Levinson’s theory
chiefly Face Threatening Act (FTAs) and as well politeness strategies.  





            The present study will investigate the use of politeness strategies
in the movie with respect to the three characters selected to observe. This
research will highlight the role of politeness strategies used by the
characters in the movies in greater and deeper understanding of the
distribution and construction of power relations through these strategies. This
study will also highlight the role of factors other than context which affects
the choice of strategies including the rank of imposition/ relative power or
the social distance. This study thus reveals that how these strategies make the
communication a unique, complex and just phenomenon.

coming researchers will be more interested in undertaking researches which
analyse pragmatic strategies through the medium of movies. This will as well
enhance their interest and as well a knowledge in the relevant field in a quite
attractive and indulging manner   


Adel, S. R., Davoudi, M., &
Ramezanzadeh, A. (2016). A qualitative study of politeness strategies used by
the Iranian EFL learners in a class blog. Iranian Journal of Language Teaching
and Research, 4(1), 47-62. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1127416.pdf

Aning, A. (2007). A n analysis of
positive politeness strategy in the film entitled “in good company” (a
pramatics analysis). Faculty of Letters and Fine Arts Sebeles Maret University Surayakarta.
Retrieved from https://eprints.uns.ac.id/2888/1/57511106200903091.pdf

Fauzi, M. (2010). A Politeness
Strategy Analysis on the Main Charater’s of the Movie Pirates Caribbean: Dead
Man’s Chest. Syarif Hidayatullah, Islamic State University Jakarta.  Retrieved from http://repository.uinjkt.ac.id/dspace/bitstream/123456789/3182/1/91729-MUHAMMAD%20IHSAN%20FAUZI-FAH.pdf

Grundy, P. (1995). Doing Pragmatics.
London: Hodder Headline Group 

Kurniawan, N. (2015). An Analysis of
Positive and Negative Politeness Strategies in an Interview of Mark Rutte Metro
TV’s Face to Face Desi Anwar Program. English Letters Department Syarif
Hidayatullah Islamic State University Jakarta. Retrieved from http://repository.uinjkt.ac.id/dspace/bitstream/123456789/30600/1/NURDY%20KURNIAWAN%20-%20FAH.pdf

Noviani, Q. (2014). A Pragmatic Analysis
of Politeness Strategies and Politeness Principles Up Town Girls. English Education
Department Faculty of Language and Arts, Yogyakarta State University. Retrieved
from http://eprints.uny.ac.id/19418/1/Qolidina%20Noviani%2009211141005.pdf