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)
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).
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