Language and Power

  • Created by: Ellie
  • Created on: 26-05-14 16:41

Types of Power

Influential vs Instrumental:

  • Influential - power to persuade someone e.g. persuading a friend, celebs in ads
  • Instrumental - power to make somebody do something, even if they don't really want to e.g. police officer / boss

4 more types:

  • Practical power: physical actions, violence, skills, money, goods, services, objects
  • Position power: position in society or at work or any other hierarchal system
  • Personal power: personality, nurturing, caring
  • Knowledge and ideas power: ... self explanatory
1 of 5

Grice's Maxims

  • Quantity: give as much detail as necessary with out giving more than was asked for
  • Quality: be truthful and do not give information which you doubt or do not have evidence for
  • Manner: be polite, be orderly
  • Relevance: what you say should be relevant to the conversation
2 of 5

Leech's Maxims (Politeness Principle)

  • Tact: minimise expression of cost to other e.g. 'can I talk to you for a second?'
  • Generosity: minimise expression of benefit to self, maximise expression of cost to self, focuses on speaker putting others before themselves e.g. 'you relax I'll do all the dishes'
  • Approbation: maximises expression of praising other e.g. 'you were great at kareoke'
  • Modesty: minimise praise and maximise dispraise of self e.g. 'I'm so stupid I forgot your book'
  • Agreement: minimise expression of disagreement, maximise agreement 
  • Sympathy: minimise antipathy, maximise sympathy. This can include congratulations, commiserations and condolonces.
3 of 5

Brown and Levinson: Politeness theory

Negative politeness focuses on the speaker's negative face: the desire not to be impeded upon. Britain is a culture that stresses negative politness. Features often include:

  • Hedges
  • Modal auxiliaries
  • Questions
  • First person plural pronouns
  • Pessimism
  • Apologies

Positive politeness focuses on the speaker's positive face: the desire to be liked. Features often include:

  • Compliments
  • Jokes
  • In-group markers such as 'mate'
  • Exaggerated interest
  • Optimism
  • Agreement

Bald on record: no regard for another's face (how they want to be perceived) and not trying to avoid a face threatening act

4 of 5

Norman Fairclough: Synthetic Personalisation

Addressing mass audiences as if they were individuals through inclusive language, normally pronouns such as second person pronouns or first person plural pronouns. 

5 of 5


Adam Kirkbride


While the power of knowledge and ideas may be self-explanatory, I think it is still important to include the definition

Similar English Language resources:

See all English Language resources »See all Language and power resources »