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Politeness Phenomena across Chinese Genres

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This volume looks at politeness phenomena in a culture and country that is becoming the most influential in the world. It is the first book to survey politeness variations across different genres in Chinese and fills a gap in both politeness research in general and in Chinese politeness research in particular.

Unlike existing studies which treat Chinese politeness phenomena as non-varying this study provides systemic evidence for how linguistic polite behaviour varies across genres in China. These intracultural variations which are investigated in the volume include addressing, backchanneling, identity construction and rapport management which are subject to the influence of genre differences such as formality of occasion, media and channel of communication, presence or absence of interlocutor or third party and role-configurations. The volume offers those who read or write Chinese texts or engage in Chinese conversation an enriched knowledge of how politeness as the most important type of interpersonal meaning is communicated in different genres in that language.

Published: Oct 27, 2017

Book Contributors


Section Chapter Authors
Contributors Xinren Chen
Foreword Yuling Pan
Acknowledgment Xinren Chen
1. Introduction Xinren Chen
Part I: Politeness in Various Chinese Introduction/Response Settings
2. Guest Introductions and Responses at Chinese Dinner Tables Xueyu Wang
3. Hosts' Introductions and Visiting Professors' Responses in Lecture Openings Xinren Chen
4. Celebrity Introductions and Responses in the Openings of Chinese TV Celebrity Interview Programmes Yonghong Qian
Part II: Identity Construction and Politeness in Various Chinese Interactions
5. Identity Construction in Responses to Radio-mediated Call-in Complaints Wei Ren
6. Relational Acts and Identity Construction by Chinese Celebrities on Weibo Doreen Wu, Minfen Lin
7. Experts' Identity Construction and Rapport Management in the Chinese Context of PhD Oral Defences Yongping Ran, Qian Chen
Part III: Politeness in Various Conflictive Chinese Situations
8. Rapport Orientations of Women Guests when Making Refusals and Obligations of the Host on Chinese Reality TV Dating Shows Tzu-Wei Hsiang, Victoria Rau
9. Panelists’ Rapport Management in Expressing Disagreement at Conference Discussions Liyin Zhang, Xiaoyan Wang
10. Politeness and Disagreement in Hong Kong Internet Discussion Forums Cynthia Lee, Winnie Shum
Part IV: Backchanneling and Politeness in Various Chinese Interactions
11. Backchanneling for Positive Politeness in Chinese TV Interviews Chunmei Hu, Rong Chen
12. Backchanneling and Politeness in the Interaction of Medical Consultations Yansheng Mao, Kun Yang
13. Backchanneling in Internet Interactions: Implications for Netiquette Xiyun Zhong
End Matter
Index Xinren Chen


A much welcome addition to the ongoing exploration of Chinese politeness, as well as politeness research in general. It also has significant implications to cross-cultural pragmatics, and intercultural communication.
From the Foreword by Yuling Pan

This volume is well-structured and functions as a comprehensive survey of research in Chinese politeness. It revisits a pervasive phenomenon in language – politeness, which has been studied in depth in the past three decades. Filling a gap in politeness research, in particular in Chinese languages, this volume has several strengths. First of all, it is the first collection of articles to focus on how linguistic behaviours towards politeness vary across genres in contemporary Chinese languages, covering not only face-to-face and written forms of communication but also those in computer-mediated contexts. Furthermore, the volume focuses on intracultural variations in discursive strategies across different types of interaction, including introduction, identity construction, rapport management and backchannelling. The volume is also innovative, as it embraces diverse approaches to politeness and a range of naturally occurring data. Rather than adhering to a single model or paradigm, this volume adopts theoretical modules of Leech’s (2014) GSP, Brown and Levinson’s (1987) Face Theory (FT), Spencer-Oatey’s (2000) Rapport Management Model (RMM) and Constructivists’ views of politeness (Arundale, 1999; Haugh, 2007; Kádár and Haugh, 2013; Watts, 2003).
Discourse and Communication