Please : a politeness formula viewed in a translation perspective

Title: Please : a politeness formula viewed in a translation perspective
Author: Aijmer, Karin
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2009, vol. 35, iss. 2, pp. [63]-77
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
Many languages have a marker of politeness such as please associated with the making of a request (e.g. German bitte, French s'il vous plaît). Swedish on the other hand does not have a routinised politeness marker corresponding to please. The present paper studies the correspondences of please in Swedish in order to get a closer picture of its different functions in English and its translation correspondences. It is shown on the basis of translations that please is used both as a standardised strategy in social situations and as a way of avoiding conflict by being tactful. When please is associated with social politeness it is translated by var så god. The tactful or strategic please signals intensity, emphasis and power and has emotional side-effects. It is never translated as var så god. It is shown that the functions of please depend both on the social situation and on the patterns where it occurs (e.g. position in the utterance and the grammatical context).
[1] Aijmer, Karin (1996) Conversational Routines in English: Convention and Creativity. London: Longman.

[2] Altenberg, Bengt and Karin Aijmer (2000) 'The English-Swedish Parallel Corpus: A resource for contrastive research and translation studies'. In: Mair, Christian and Marianne Hundt (eds.) Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory. Papers from the 20th International Conference on English Language Research on Computerized Corpora (ICAME 20) Freiburg im Breisgau, 1999. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Rodopi, 15–33.

[3] Brown, Penelope and Stephen C. Levinson (1987) Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[4] Fraser, Bruce (1996) 'Pragmatic markers'. Pragmatics, 167–190. | DOI 10.1075/prag.6.2.03fra

[5] House, Juliane (1989) 'The functions of please and bitte'. In: Blum-Kulka, Shoshana, Juliane House, and Gabriele Kasper (eds.) Cross-cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. Norwood: Ablex, 96–119.

[6] Janney, Richard W. and Horst Arndt (2005) 'Intracultural tact versus intercultural tact'. In: Watts, Richard J., Sachiko Ide, and Konrad Ehlich (eds.) Politeness in Language. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 21–41.

[7] Johansson, Stig (2007) Seeing through Multilingual Corpora. On the use of Corpora in Contrastive Studies. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

[8] Ohlander, Sölve (1985) '"Snälla ta med brickan!" Om ett nytt uttryck för hövlighet i svenskan'. Språkvård 3, 4–15.

[9] Sato, Shie (2008) 'Use of 'please' in American and New Zealand English'. Journal of Pragmatics 40, 1249–1278.

[10] Wichmann, Anne (2004) 'The intonation of please-requests: a corpus-based study'. Journal of Pragmatics 36, 1521–1549. | DOI 10.1016/j.pragma.2004.03.003