An-Najah University Journal for Research - B (Humanities)


This qualitative study explores the politeness tendencies that result from attempts to pay bills in Palestinian Society. The significance of this paper rises from the fact that it attempts to highlight potential causes of pragmatic failure and breakdown that might occur in cross-cultural communication. Brown and Levinson's (1987) and Leech’s (1983) models of linguistic politeness are considered as a theoretical framework of the study. Naturally occurring data were collected ethnographically from four situations. Analysis of data shows that paying for meals by Palestinians is rooted in maintaining face which is oriented toward a person's public image. In Palestinian Arabic, it is necessary to preserve the interlocutors' face. The one who pays the bill finds it more important to make his/her addressee feel wanted, and to be considerate of his/her wants and feelings than it is to be honest or direct. Therefore, politeness battles that occur when paying bills in Palestinian society have taken on the pragmatic functions of minimizing the benefit of the self and maximizing the benefit of the others. Such battles are manifestations that aim at expressing intimacy and connectedness. These pragmatic functions of such battles of politeness reflect the role of politeness in Palestinian society as a device utilized by Palestinians to mark, establish, or assert social relationships including connectedness, generosity and solidarity.