L'Interprétation Comme Reparation et Comme acte Menaçant pour la Face (FTA): (Im)poli envers qui?
Keywords:Politeness, face-threatening acts (FrAs), hybrid politeness, collective face, colonial African literature
In this article, we use the theoretical frameworks proposed by Brown and
Levinson (1978) and by Kerbraat-Orecchioni (1996, 2002) to reveal hybrid
politeness strategies in the linguistic behaviour of African interpreters who figured in novels of the colonial period. The interpreters did not limit themselves
to translating remarks that threatened the face of their listeners. They did nol
hesitate to reprove those who offered rude responses, which they refused to translate in any case (reproval and refusal to translate both functioning as acts of linguistic impoliteness); nor did they hesitate to alter these remarks in order to make them more acceptable, less offensive, and less damaging for the face of their recipients (such transformation functioning as an act of "reparation" [Gaffman 1973], and equating to an act of politeness). That the same utterance is analyzed as an act of impoliteness (from the standpoint of the speaker) and as an act of politeness (from the standpoint of the hearer) reaffirms the nature of politeness, underscoring the role of point of view in the perception of the speech act. One might well ask: Polite (or impolite) for whom?