This study explores local understandings of politeness and face in a modern religious order. Brown and Levinson’s (1978) model of politeness describes universals in language use. The data, taken from autobiographical material by a member of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO), suggests that a knowledge of local contexts of interaction may be invoked to account for apparent differences in the interpretation of what, in society at large, would certainly appear as verbal rudeness. Membership of social groups, in fact, frequently implies the acceptance of local understandings of language behaviour and group responses (Oakes 1994: 89). In the FWBO, a special understanding of the term ‘friendship’ allows more experienced members of the community to criticise less experienced, in the interest of the lattter’s spiritual development. Acceptance of this shows that the individual in question has internalised the group’s underlying philosophy, and is on the way to group membership. The paper explores these issues using data from a memoir published on the internet by a group member.

Inside the tower. Membership and face in a modern Buddhist group

PONTON, DOUGLAS
2014

Abstract

This study explores local understandings of politeness and face in a modern religious order. Brown and Levinson’s (1978) model of politeness describes universals in language use. The data, taken from autobiographical material by a member of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order (FWBO), suggests that a knowledge of local contexts of interaction may be invoked to account for apparent differences in the interpretation of what, in society at large, would certainly appear as verbal rudeness. Membership of social groups, in fact, frequently implies the acceptance of local understandings of language behaviour and group responses (Oakes 1994: 89). In the FWBO, a special understanding of the term ‘friendship’ allows more experienced members of the community to criticise less experienced, in the interest of the lattter’s spiritual development. Acceptance of this shows that the individual in question has internalised the group’s underlying philosophy, and is on the way to group membership. The paper explores these issues using data from a memoir published on the internet by a group member.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/15685
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