Lesson 1: Terms and Scope

Face-Threatening Acts

People in all cultures have an awareness of self-image, or "face", as they communicate. Protecting face is important for communicating and behaving successfully with others, even though it may not be accomplished consciously by talk participants. A "face-threatening act" (FTA) is one that would make someone possibly lose face, or damage it in some way.


Defining face-threatening acts.

Duration: 01:05

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FTAs, which occur regularly in everyday interaction, are often softened by means of politeness. Politeness can be expressed through "positive politeness" (e.g., "please", to try to make the other person like you) or "negative politeness" (e.g., "I know this is a terrible imposition", to try to give the other person some space and not impose).

Of the following three choices that could occur when a guest came to your home to visit, which would you believe would be most likely to cause a threat to your face or that of your guest?

a. Can I have a glass of water?

b. Could you take your feet off my table?

c. Make yourself at home.


The class discusses the example of FTA.

Duration: 00:38

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