• Cross-cultural Politeness Research


    Supervising Investigators

    Aida Jalanesh, MA

    Prof. Dr. Ulrike Altendorf

    Webdesign and Translation

    Hanna Häßlein, MA

    Project Description

    This research project is a collaborative effort involving Master students working on politeness as part of their research conducted in the context of their Master's theses. The notion of politeness is claimed to be a universal phenomenon in human interaction. Politeness strategies are used to communicate sensitivity, to show consideration for others and to avoid social offences and ultimately communication breakdowns. Depending on the speech act performed, speakers will employ different strategies for different effects. At this stage of the project, graduate researchers will be focussing on requests and the politeness strategies employed by speakers of a wide range of languages to mitigate the face-threatening act that they entail. Following Cultural Organization Theory as proposed by Hofstede, Hofstede and Minkov (2010), they will investigate whether different cultural and societal norms can account for speakers' sociopragmatic choices in their native languages and also for sociopragmatic preferences in their performance of english as a foreign language. We aim at including a wide range of native languages, including Western as well as Eastern languages, thus moving away from the "Anglo-cultural ethnocentricity" (Ghavamnia, Tavakoli & Rezazadeh 2012, 105) often deplored in the current literature on the topic.

    (Aida Jalanesh, 4th March 2021)

    Project Status


    American English

    British English



    Brazilian Portuguese


    Table 1: Languages investigated so far or in the process of being investigated


    Hofstede, Geert, Gert Jan Hofstede, and Michael Minkov (2010).Cultures and Organizations: Software of theMind : Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance for Survival. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    Ghavamnia Maedeh, Mansoor Tavakoli, and Mosehn Rezazadeh (2012). "A comparative study of requests among L2 English, L1 Persian, and L1 English speakers." Revista Electrónica de Lingüística Aplicada Vol. 10, 105-123.


    Jalanesh, Aida and Ulrike Altendorf (2020). "Politeness Strategies across Cultures: How L1 speakers of English, German and Persian encode politeness in English." In: Hadrian Lankiewicz, Gabriele Blell and Ulrike Altendorf (eds). Cultural Issues in the Matrix of Applied Linguistics. Gdansk: Gdansk University Press, 99-134.

    Master Theses Completed

    Jalanesh, Aida (2017). A Study of Politeness Strategies in the Interlanguage of Male and Female Persian and German Learners of English as a Foreign Language. MA Thesis. Leibniz Universität Hannover.

    Reis de Souza, Marina (2021). How do native speakers and learners of English encode politeness in their L1 and their L2? Requests in American English, Brazilian Portuguese and German. Leibniz Universität Hannover.

    Troitzschel, Yasmin (2021). How Do Native Speakers and Learners Encode Politeness in their L1 and in English? Evidence from Requests in English, German and Serbian. Unpublished MA Thesis. Leibniz Universität Hannover.