Competitive and Co-operative Strategies II: Directives
This chapter examines the use of directives — those speech acts by which a speaker tries to make an addressee do as he or she proposes. Sometimes speakers will use unambiguous imperatives; at others, exhibiting what Penelope Brown calls ‘negative politeness’, they will allow some degree of ‘interactional leeway’. Three categories of directive have been identified for study in the epics: imperatives, mitigated forms, and oblique directives and hints. The study concludes that although men and women understand the advantages of mitigated forms, and use them, there is a very high tolerance of imperative forms, whether voiced by men or by women. Young people addressing their elders, however, choose mitigated forms rather than bald imperatives. It is in this category alone that we find interesting reflections on status.
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