Face threatening acts and politeness strategies by the Kenyan televangelists
Kithure, Amalia Kabugi
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The focus of the study is politeness in televangelism. It aimed at finding out the face threatening acts inherent in the televangelists' discourse, the politeness strategies employed by the televangelists and the factors that influence their choice of politeness strategies. Despite the fact that many politeness studies have been carried out in the western countries and locally, no study specifically focuses on the Face Threatening Acts and Politeness Strategies employed by the Kenyan televangelists. The study made use of politeness theory developed by Brown and Levinson (1978, 1983 and 1987) and Speech Act theory by Austin (1962) as the basis of its theoretical framework. The background of the study and the literature review shed light on some major studies done on politeness both locally and internationally. The impetus to carry out this study was the fact that the Kenyan TLVs have been criticized in social media for being impolite. The data was collected by viewing and listening to video-recorded discourse of five Kenyan televangelists on a television set. The time taken by each of the televangelists was about 30 minutes, and the total duration was about two and half hours. The data was then transcribed on paper and the FTAs, Politeness Strategies and the factors influencing the choice of politeness strategies elicited, and then presented on frequency tables according to their categories. They were then analysed qualitatively and then summarised using descriptive statistics. The sampling methods used were purposive and random sampling. The sample was composed of two female and three male televangelists who telecast their sermons on four Kenyan TV channels: (KEC, NTV, KTN, and Citizen TV).The topics covered by the five televangelists were: 'Midnight Prayer', 'Ingredients for Victorious Living', 'Lameness', 'Unity' and 'The Tabernacle'. The findings revealed that the televangelists are polite. Though they used many face threatening acts, they also employed many politeness strategies that mitigate the face threats and create cordial relations with the hearers. Orders, requests, challenges, advice, promises, criticisms, accusations and reminders occurred in the TLVs' discourse. However, the televangelists employed all the four politeness strategies: positive, negative, bald-on-record and off-record. The factors that influenced the televangelists' choice of politeness strategies were the pay-offs, relative power, social distance and social ranking.