An exploratory study of discourse conventions in the European Parliament: Thanking in Spanish, French and Dutch

Patrick Goethals, Babette Blancke

Abstract

In this paper, we analyze a small-scale corpus with Spanish, French and Dutch interventions in the plenary debates in the European Parliament, in order to verify whether there exist cultural differences in the use and the expression of the particular politeness strategy of thanking somebody. We find that thanking is more frequent in Spanish and French than in Dutch. In addition, it plays a more prominent role, e.g. because the acknowledgements are longer and receive more emphasis. Previous studies found that Dutch speakers tend to use many routine acknowledgements in contexts where there may be a threat to the negative face of one of the speech participants. Our study shows that French and Spanish speakers use more acknowledgements than Dutch when public positive face is at stake. The data also show the relevance of the concept of valuating politeness, as opposed to mitigating politeness, in order to describe the Spanish data.

Keywords

Politeness; Thanking; Parliamentary discourse; Spanish; French; Dutch

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