Nigeria Nigerian, the concept politeness cannot be detached

Nigeria is a multilingual nation- a country which speaks over 513 languages and practices as many cultures as possible, (Eka 2000). This culturally diverse posture of Nigeria makes it easy for similar manifestations of politeness at the various levels and forms of human interactions by the people of the various socio-cultural groups. The manifestations of politeness referred here, could either be verbal or non-verbal.  From the viewpoint of verbal manifestations, we have greetings, terms of address, use of honorific, indirectness, use of “can”, “would”, use and repetition of “please”,  hedges, undue apologies, use of pre-sequences to minimize imposition, phrasing expressions as questions  rather than assertions and statements (Jowitt, 2005), and choice of even how to make requests. With regard to nonverbal manifestations, we have gestures, eye contacts and movement, use of right or left or both hands, etc. Across the various cultural groups in Nigeria, there is no provision for accommodation from a young person to an older a face threatening act a (FTAs), as this would be frowned at and considered an aberration or a taboo. But on the other hand, the older or socially superior person may threaten the face of a subordinate without much room for redress by the recipient usually, in this case, the subordinate. For the Nigerian, the concept politeness cannot be detached from social and cultural convention. This explication is buttressed by Nanda (1984, p.115) who reaffirms that:  Language does more than just reflect culture. It is the way in which the individual is introduced to the order of physical and social environment.            The Nigerian child learns to appreciate the speech tradition of its people as an essential substance for survival and acceptance. For instance, a child in Nigeria across all the ethnic formations is meant to be seen and not heard, a woman’s role is spelt out, the norms of addressing are clearly defined. These are some of the aspects of socialization that control the Nigerian world-view and a Nigerian child on his part grows up to accept them as his global aggregate of understanding of what politeness entails. Greetings (elderly and young).According to Olaniyi (2017), people who are aged are expected to be highly respected. He went further to show key distinction in the greetings of both the aged and the young in Yoruba; a major ethnic group in Nigeria. He states that this key difference is in the use of pronominals. The pronominal /?u/ and /é/ are interchangeably used for both young and aged, respectively. Below is an example: Mr. A. (Old): Epèlé Mr. A. (Young): Pèlé The differentiation amid the two words above is in the removal of the “E” to pèlé while the initial /?/ is added to the greeting of an elder. This aligns with Lakoff’s (1987) thought that the suitable politeness rule is a key aspect in a cooperative principle.Also related to greeting, Eka (2000, p.35) stated that “the Sapir- Whorf hypothesis is quite valid in the Nigeria (English) situation. The linguistic variability is immense For instance if someone is engaged in a piece of work, Nigerians from many linguistic groups will say things which may be interpreted thus – you have done well’, ‘You doing well’, I recognize your effort’, I greet you ‘or’ ‘well done’  The above however shows the degree to which politeness strategies are evident in the cultures of a variety of groups in Nigeria.  Obinus (2015) stated that it is in the character of a lot of Nigerians to make use of, and reiterate titles and honorifics at both opening and ending of statements in order to exhibit politeness. It is very common to hear addresses such as  “ma, sir, Mr. & Mrs., uncle, madam, oga, aunty, His Excellency, Her Royal Highness, Doctor, honourable” In a Nigerian’s conversation; mostly among two individuals from/of diverse social status . The one with the lower social status says the the titles of the elite individual over and over again. Unlike the Americans and British people, in Nigeria’s culture, it is seen as ill-mannered and very disrespectful to use the bare names of the elderly people, therefore reflecting this cultural character of Nigerians’ expression of politeness in the manner in which they use English.  Below is an example; Mrs A: Ma, will you be going out tomorrow Ma? Mrs B: You can come over tomorrow.Mrs A: ok Ma, thanks a lot Ma.From the above conversation, it can be insinuated that Mrs A either requires to find out if Mrs B would be home, or rather Mrs A is circuitously requesting to go pay Mrs B a visit in her house. Nonetheless, from the above state of affairs, Mrs B makes the second assumption (that Mrs A wants to come see her at home) of Mrs A’s question, which is also very correct. Therefore she tells Mrs A that she can come see her at home.  It is stated in the work of Obinus (2015) that the explanation for the actions of Mrs B is solely to show a high level of politeness, and that if Mrs B had only replied Mrs A with just “Yes”, and then her response or actions would be seen as impolite or that she, Mrs B doesn’t want to have a conversation with Mrs A, or may even mean that Mrs B sees and thinks of Mrs A as a lesser person compared to herself that’s why she uses both brief and one-word reply.Loss of life, and property.When a person dies, there are particular words, statements or speeches that is expected to be heard. We will be looking at an example based on a Yoruba (a major tribe in Nigeria) conversation. The background of the conversation is that of the death or loss of a child and the atmosphere is overwrought, uptight, and sober; ” Mr. A.: Epèlé fa (sorry indeed) Mrs. B.: Eseun (thank you) Mr. A. ekú orò omo, esì kú ìrójú (I salute your motherly patience and courage) Mrs. B.: àwa nùuni (Here we are) Mr. A.: aònírí irú è món lólá ànánbì. (May this not repeat itself by the grace of Prophet  Mohammad, S. A. W) Mr. B.: àmín (amen) Mr. A.: ?l?run yio se àrò padà olóore (God will replace the baby with a better one) “The “Epèlé fa” is a speech act that carries out the first term or idiom of sympathy. Hence, Mr A expresses sympathy to Mrs B. The Nigerian community as a whole recognizes that individuals should make time to go visit whoever loses a relation as a way of showing compassion and support. Doing this conveys assistance to the bereaved as well as show respect to the dead.The culture of greetings maximises the strength of the common connection amongst the citizens of the one cultural society. This culture is passed down from one generation to another that the loss of one native is considered a loss to all the other natives. They mourn, prepare and share foods and other items, and may have other ceremonies depending on their religion. Politeness In The Western And Asian CountriesJust like in the case of Nigeria above, the way in which a Westerner and an Asian expresses politeness is different too.  As stated above, politeness is a common occurrence in every societal group, but each of these cultural groups has got its specific principles as well as standards. Hence, individuals from distinct cultural upbringings are expected to show politeness in various ways.Compliment and response. Compliments are a kind of social speech act that has got various roles and purposes. This simply means that it could achieve diverse tasks in various societal settings of a day to day interaction, and Conferring to quite a few investigations carried out by scholars both home and abroad, other than expressing gratitude, the ruling goal of English complimentary speech is to organize the reliability in the interaction of speakers. While the elements of Chinese complimentary speech concentrate on: initially, influencing the listener to rest easy; then, communicating thankfulness; and thirdly, making utilization of others. The third capacity of Chinese complimentary discourse is not quite the same as those of the western culture. In the part of element of complimentary discourse, there are likewise social contrasts.As seen in the work of Deng (1997, p.76), the Chinese chooses to seek or look for something they have in common with someone; hence the compliment on changes and sorts is not really common. Unlike the Chinese, the Westerners would rather seek character and behaviour which is why they are always ready to give compliments on new changes, hairstyle, dress sense, or even great ideas.  Luo (2000) says that when it comes to the response to compliments from people, the difference is clear. For example, a non-Chinese person may compliment a Chinese woman with “your dress is very nice” and get a response from the lady saying, “no, it is just a simple dress” because in their culture, it is common for people to say some self-dispraise things like “you praise me so much” or “I feel shy to hear that” because they see it as a way of being modest in some kind of way, and modesty is considered as a kind of traditional virtue. Whereas in the Western countries, people tend to respond to praises and compliments with things like “thank you” or “I am glad to hear that”, because to them, being honest is the best policy. He also stated that in the above situation of the Chinese lady and foreigner, the communication may not be a progressive one as the foreigner may get offended thinking that the Chinese lady was implying that he/she has got a lack of good taste in clothes and sorts. In both the Western country and China, various strategies of politeness are used when it comes to reacting to a complimentary speech. When it comes to English and American, the reception of a compliment is seen as a sort of respect to the counterpart, and is able to dodge showing any threat to the positive face of the counterpart. However the self-depreciation of the Chinese is a way of showing self-humbling and respect to the counterpart.Another difference is in the area of who can and cannot be complimented. In the American and Western culture, it is seen as normal for a wife to rain praises on either or husband or kids for a job well done or their looks, because it is acceptable to compliment a member of your family. Whereas in the Chinese culture, it is hard to find family members complement each other in the presence of other people. This is because the Chinese people are considered as polite, rather than honest and direct like the Western people. A last difference is “what can and cannot be complimented”. It is common for a Westerner to compliment a lady on her good looks, but raining praises on a Chinese man on his wife’s looks will be seen as being rude or even a taboo. Addressing a person.In English, people are typically addressed either based on their gender: Mr, Mrs, Miss, Ms. (this is used for a lady whose marital status is unknown) with surname, however in Asian people are addressed by their surname as well as their title or occupation such as “wang xiao zhang” (Principal Wang) and “li yi sheng” (Doctor Li). Sometimes, “tong zhi” (comrade) and “shi fu” (master) could be made use of autonomously in addressing strangers. Or used with surnames to address friends. Children in Asia regularly use “shushu” (uncle), “a yi” (aunt) to generally address adults. English speakers sometimes use “sir” or “madam” to address strangers. The kinship languages are used by both English and Chinese people, but terms of family relationships are only used for relatives in English. Whereas when it comes to Chinese language, they are not only used for relatives, but also for non-relatives. Also, the Asian kinship terms are way complex than the ones used by the English people. For instance, in Chinese, “da bo” (eldest brother of father), “er jie” (second elder sister), “san ge” (third elder brother) are often used, while in English, “sister”, “uncle”, “grandma” are used alone or even before their first names (Yin, 2009).  According to Tillit & Bruder (1993, p. 15), in the case of an American, it is likely to switch from a formal address to an informal one, but the superior in either position or age has to be the one to give permission to this. Greetings.According to Marsih (2010), in various cultures, questions like “how are you”, “were are you going”, “have you eaten”, and so many others can and are commonly used to greet people, but these questions are not necessarily  real questions as the answers to them are considered to be ritualistic. It is called ritualistic because for instance someone asks how you are doing, you do not have to share all your feelings to him/her. A simple “I am fine” is all that is needed, an a little small talk. In most Western or English speaking countries, talking about politics or the weather is considered as small talk. The way people greet and their consideration of small talks may be different in each language.  For example, in some Asian countries like China and Indonesia, the expression “where are you going” is considered as a way of greeting, but a German or most Westerners may see this as being overly curious (Mulyana 2004, p. 132). Acceptance/ refusal of offers.This also differs in various cultures and countries.  Most European or Westerners would accept or refuse an offer with a “yes/no, thank you”, whereas some Asian countries like Indonesia are likely to say something rather than yes/no since they find it difficult to use a direct response like the Westerners. Whereas in Chinese, it is their culture for a guest to refuse an offer for at least thrice before accepting it just to be seen as polite, and if they happen to be the host, they would make an offer severally just to sure if the guest really doesn’t want what is been offered (Mulyana, 2004, p. 133-134).It could be concluded from the above that the Chinese see it as being impolite or greedy if they accept an offer at once.  Similarly, in India, Taiwan and some parts of the Arabic-speaking countries, it is seen as impolite to hurriedly accept when food is offered (Holmes 2001, p. 276).Reprimand.To reprimand simply means to caution someone, or to call them to order. This, just like the previous sub-headings also differs in various cultures. In Thailand and probably some other Asia countries, it is considered rude and impolite to caution or reprimand a person publicly as it leads to face loss, whereas it is accepted in some Western countries like Germany.  Talking about business.Preferable times to have a business meeting are different in most cultures. The British people do not mind talking about their business deals while having lunch or having a drink, whereas the Japanese consider lunch to be a time for resting, and for this would rather not have any business meetings during this time. The Germans prefer to have business meetings and talks just before dinner, whereas the French would rather be well fed before any talks of business and meetings (Marsih, 2010). Western business people are often very relaxed while disagreeing with each other because they believe that it is possible for them to quickly resolve whatever the problem may be simply by appealing to principles. It is therefore, it is alright to criticise each other if they believe that they have the ability and accurate reasons for it. The other party is however likely to push down whatever pride that they have got and listen. For the Westerners are to subdue their emotions, and abstract principles in this way, they need to believe in the legitimacy of these principles.  However, Chinese people, do not.  They believe that in order to get along with each other, they must continue to sustain peace by regarding the feelings and pride of their partners, as well as honouring their superiors. Apologies. Apologies are similar in cultures, with just a few differences. The English people are very good at saying “I am sorry”, “excuse me please”, or “pardon me” so frequently. The Asians also say this but not as much as the English man. They say it when they need to take a call, push through a crowd, leave a gathering to go use the toilet, stop a person to ask questions, or sneeze. The Chinese however just say “I am sorry”, or “excuse me” only when they need to bother a person or feel pity for a person.  Taboos.This refers to the “Don’ts” of any culture, and is common in all cultures. The Westerners have got quite a long list of Don’ts as they consider themselves as adults who are able to take care of themselves, and be independent.  They highly cherish their privacy, and so put an “X” on some topics and conversations. For instance, they consider it as being impolite to as about their marital status, age, income, or their religion. They also find it kind of insulting when a person says things like “you should cover yourself better, go have more rest, or drink more water”. They would rather prefer to hear “please look after yourself, or get well soon”.  Whereas the Chinese people commonly talk about their health ad voice out their worries about a person, as well as give them some advice (Yin, 2009).  It is also a taboo to just talk about death or plainly mention ‘mental illness’ or any other deadly disease to a patient, and in China, it is a taboo to give someone a clock as a present because according to their superstition, it signifies death.  Words used to mention deadly sicknesses or death are similar in both Asia and Western world because we all have ‘human feelings’ which leads us to feel some kind of horror when death or deadly ailment is been talked about. Therefore, both the Chinese and English people put up with similar “Refinement Maxim”.  This is just to say that there should be use of cultured language instead of a prohibited and tainted language. ?


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