International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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Volume 5 Issue 1 (June 1995), Pages 3-150

Do we need to be silent to be extremely polite? Silence and FTAs (pages 95-110)

This paper attempts to investigate the relationship between silence and politeness. More specifically, it focuses on Brown and Levinson's ([1978] 1987) superstrategy don't do the FTA (face‐threatening act) ‐ remain silent. It explores the nature of this superstrategy and the extent to which silence can realise the other major strategies for dealing with FTAs. It is claimed that this strategy is of restricted applicability and different in nature from all the others. It is suggested that the function of silence in the framework of this theory could be better understood as a realisation of the other superstrategies. Moreover, close examination of this strategy casts further doubts on the claimed hierarchy of the strategies and the universal applicability of the model.

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