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Impoliteness Strategies in ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’: A Gender-based Study

A seminar on “Impoliteness Strategies in ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’: A Gender-based Study” was hosted by Miss Noor Al-Yasin, an Academic Faculty Member in the Department of English Language, on November 8, 2017. Its main aim was to present her MA thesis to a number of faculty members in the Department of English which was followed by a brief discussion. The presenter highlighted the main points in her thesis, as follows.
Al-Yasin discussed the aim of her study and how the research questions were answered. Below are the questions the study answered.
  1. What are the impoliteness strategies used by the characters in ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ to enact humor?
  2. What are the impoliteness strategies that the characters use to respond to impoliteness?
  3. Are there any differences in the use of impoliteness strategies and their offensive responses due to gender?
The presenter discussed the significance of her study and how it contributes to previous literature on discourse analysis and pragmatics. In addition, the methodology and framework adopted were briefly discussed. Finally, the presenter highlighted her main findings, as seen below. A few recommendations were made by the Head of the Department, Professor Al-Atari, for future research in the same field by studying the same issue tackled in Al-Yasin’s MA thesis on natural speech in teaching/learning sessions at University of Petra.
-Findings
  1. Negative impoliteness and sarcasm or mock impoliteness were the most frequently used major strategies by the characters.
  2. Primarily, the characters were disinterested, unconcerned, or unsympathetic to attack other characters’ positive faces by showing lack of sympathy and care.
  3. In negative impoliteness, African American characters preferred to undermine the others by personalizing them with negative characteristics.
  4. Regardless of gender, attacking the hearer’s negative face was more preferred by African American characters than attacking the positive face.
  5. Both male and female characters tended to damage the hearer’s positive face by showing disinterest and lack of sympathy.
  6. Males and females differed significantly in initiating negative impoliteness and sarcasm or mock impoliteness.