A Discourse-oriented Model for Analysing Power and Politeness in Negotiation Interaction: A Cross-linguistic Perspective

Shamala Paramasivam 1
Author Information & Copyright
1University Putra Malaysia

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


This paper draws on linguistic theories that have universal status— Locher’s (2004) approach to power, Brown and Levinson’s (1987) theory for politeness, Watts’ (1991) notion of social network and Goffman’s (1974, 1981) understanding of frame—in order to develop a model that enables power and politeness to be analysed through language use in negotiation interaction. The model forwards a theoretical framework as well as a method for analysis that enables the identification and delineation of power practices in negotiation discourse. Together, the theoretical framework and the method for analysis form a microscope that facilitates a discourse analysis of power and politeness in negotiation talk. Data from negotiation interaction between Malay and Japanese businessmen are presented to illustrate the model.

Keywords: qualitative research design; discourse analysis; power and politeness; negotiation discourse



Abdullah, A. 1996. Going Global: Cultural Dimensions in Malaysian Management. Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian Institute of Management.


Davis, K. 1988. Power under the Microscope. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.


Doi, T. 1976. The Japanese Patterns of Communication and the Concept of Amae. In L. Samovar & R. Porter (eds.), Intercultural Communication: A Reader 188-193. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.


Flick, U. 1998. An Introduction to Qualitative Research. London: Sage Publications.


Goffman, E. 1952. On Cooling the Mark out: Some Aspects of Adaptations to Failure. Psychiatry 15, 451-463.


Goffman, E. 1974. Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.


Goffman, E. 1981. Forms of Talk. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.


Hall, E. 1966. The Hidden Dimension. New York: Doubleday.


Hofstede, G. 1991. Management in a Multicultural Society. Malaysian Management Review 26.1, 3-12.


Janney, R. & H. Arndt. 1993. Universality and Relativity in Cross-cultural Politeness Research: A Historical Perspective. Multilingua 12.1, 13-50.


Locher, M. 2004. Power and Politeness in Action. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.


Mao, L. 1994. Beyond Politeness Theory: "Face" Revisited and Renewed. Journal of Pragmatics 21, 451-486.


Marriott, H. 1995. The Management of Discourse in International Seller- buyer Negotiations. In K. Ehlich & J. Wagner (Eds.), The Discourse of Business Negotiation 103-126. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.


Matsumoto, Y. 1989. Politeness and Conversational Universals: Observations from Japanese. Multilingua 8, 207-221.


Mulholland, J. 1991. The Language of Negotiation. London: Routledge.


Nakano, Y. 1995. Frame Analysis of a Japanese-American Contract Negotiation. Ph.D. Dissertation. Columbus, OH: A Bell & Howell.


Omar, A. 1995. Indirectness as a Rule of Speaking among the Malays. In Z. Majid & L. Baskaran (eds.), Rules of Speaking: Verbal Interactions of Play 47-60. Petaling Jaya: Pelanduk Publications.


Paramasivam, S. 2004. The Play of Power and Politeness in Negotiation Discourse: A Case Study. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bangi: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.


Paramasivam, S. 2006. Coming to Grips with the Analysis of Language and Power. Korean Journal of Applied Linguistics 22. 2, 1-25.


Rees, E., R. Cervero, L. Moshi, & A. Wilson. 1997. Language, Power, and the Construction of Adult Education Programs. Adult Education Quarterly 47. 2, 63-77.


Rehbein, J. 1995. International Sales Talk. In K. Ehlich & J. Wagner (eds.), The Discourse of Business Negotiation 67-102. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.


Savage, G., J. Blair, & R. Sorenson. 1999. Consider Both Relationships and Substance when Negotiating Strategically. In R. Lewicki, D. Saunders, & J. Minton (eds.), Negotiation: Readings, Exercises and Cases 32-49. Boston, MA: Irwin McGraw-Hill.


Watanabe, S. 1993. Cultural Differences in Framing: American and Japanese Group Discussions. In D. Tannen (ed.), Framing in Discourse 176-209. New York: Oxford University Press.


Watts, R. 1991. Power in Family Discourse. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.