Changing perspectives

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The paper explores politeness dynamics through a qualitative analysis of three interpreted encounters in the fields of health care, primary education, and the social services. The overall framework involves a three-fold shift in perspective: contextually, cooperative conversations replace adversarial ones; theoretically, face-flattering is considered as a fundamental aspect of face-work alongside the more traditional face-threatening and face-saving ones; interactionally, different viewpoints are accounted for concerning the impact of politeness moves on the faces of interacting (and even absent) parties. The analysis shows how the interpreters’ face-work correlates with their understanding of the institutional goals being pursued during the interactions, their identification of power relations among participants, and their personal and professional status. Such a complex interplay of factors reveals all the richness of newly discovered interpreting landscapes.


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