A Tentative Study of the Impoliteness Phenomenon in Computer-mediated Communication

Shuang-shuang LU


This article examines the politeness phenomenon in one particular computer-mediated communication (CMC) situation in China: synchronous private on-line chat. With the popularization of the internet, CMC has drawn the attention of many linguists and communication theorists. Some previous studies have compared computer-mediated communication (CMC) with face-to-face communication (FTF); findings reveal that CMC bears some resemblance and displays some differences from FTF communication in terms of the communication characteristics and linguistic features. Yet the politeness strategies have not received much attention in CMC. The present study aims to see whether the politeness principles based on FTF communication can be applied to CMC. The study finds that traditional politeness principles and maxims based on FTF are often violated and readapted in synchronous on-line chat; but instead of hindering the on-line communication, the violation and adaptation are found to fulfill different social and interpersonal functions in CMC, including fostering solidarity between the participants, venting one’s emotions, improving the efficiency of communication etc..
Key words: politeness; computer-mediated communication; interpersonal function; social function; QQ.

Résumé: Cet article examine le phénomène de politesse dans une situation particulière de communication médiatiée par ordinateur (CMO) en Chine: le chat privé instantané en ligne. Avec la popularisation de l'Internet, la CMO a attiré l'attention de beaucoup de linguistes et des théoriciens de la communication. Plusieurs études antérieures ont comparé la communication médiatisée par ordinateur (CMO) avec la communicatin en face-à-face(FàF), dont les conclusions révèlent que le CMO montre une certaine ressemblance et affiche certaines différences par rapport à la communication FàF en termes de caractéristiques de communication et des caractéristiques linguistiques. Pourtant, les stratégies de politesse n'ont pas reçu beaucoup d'attention dans la CMO. La présente étude vise à déterminer si les principes de politesse basés sur la communication FàF peuvent être appliqués à la CMO. L'étude conclut que les principes de politesse et les maximes traditionnelles fondés sur la communication FàF sont souvent enfreints et réadaptés au chat instantané en ligne, mais au lieu d'entraver la communication en ligne, la violation et l'adaptation semblent pouvoir remplir de différentes fonctions sociales et interpersonnelles dans la CMO, y compris la solidarité encouragée entre les participants, le déchargement des émotions, l'amélioration de l'efficacité de la communication etc.
Mots-Clés: politesse; communication médiatisée par ordinateur; fonction interpersonnelle; fonction sociale; QQ

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/j.ccc.1923670020100601.011


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Copyright (c) 2010 Shuang-shuang LU

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