A pragmatic analysis of politeness in Gichuka Request Expressions
Miriti, Emise Kageni
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Gichuka is a dialect of the Kimeru language - a Bantu language of the Niger Congo family- spoken by the Chuka people of Tharaka-Nithi County, Chuka Igamba- Ng’ombe Constituency. Chuka people reside in the Eastern slopes of Mount Kenya. The aim of this study was to analyze the politeness strategies used in Gichuka request expressions. Politeness is a social norm that is expected in any society and is important in maintaining cordial relationships in everyday life, especially in an aspect such as requests. Requests are imposive in nature and speakers attach much importance in protecting face from such imposition but such importance varies from culture to culture. The objectives of this study were: to describe the forms of Gichuka request expressions; to analyze the politeness strategies used in Gichuka request expressions and to discuss how the prevailing social and situational factors influence the choice of the politeness strategies in Gichuka requests. The study was guided by the Politeness Theory by Brown and Levinson; Relevance Theory by Sperber and Wilson and Blum-Kulka classification of request strategies. It utilized the descriptive research design to study social events conducted in Gichuka. Six Gichuka social events, which were purposively sampled, were recorded using a voice recorder and transcribed into guiding cards while contextual information was recorded using an observation schedule. The communicative principle of relevance by Sperber and Wilson guided the researcher in identifying one hundred and twenty eight request expressions from the Gichuka communicative events. The study established three things: that Gichuka request expressions mostly assume the mood derivable form; that Gichuka request expressions conform to Brown and Levinson Theory of Politeness and the most commonly employed strategies are the negative and positive politeness strategies and that power and distance influence the choice of politeness strategies in Gichuka requests. This study significantly enhances the analysis of the Gichuka language variety and adds to the existing knowledge on pragmatic analysis of politeness in requests in various languages of the world, and other Bantu languages.