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The Polite Speech and Unspoken Societal Expectation

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Having a polite tone when speaking is considered an unspoken societal expectation in order to function in today’s world. Everyday we initiate each conversation with a simple but polite greeting and end it with a mannerly farewell. Those who use polite speech say they use it to imply intent or to use as filler words but as the anthropologist gathered, polite sayings are used to communicate politeness rather than literal intent. Polite speech plays a greater role in everyday life than to fill in gaps, it is used to create a good first impression, to relay respect towards superiors, and to persuade the listener of those words to take side with the speaker.


Firstly, the use of polite speech is to help the speaker create a good first impression. Polite speech gives the receiving party the idea that the person talking possesses proper manners which creates a strong connection between the speaker and the listener. In a country where a majority of business heavily relies on the communication skills of a person, the importance of notable first impression is unparalleled. A person who does not practice polite speech will not create a connection as strong nor an impression as notable compared to one who practices polite speech. In an environment like an interview or a business meeting, the listener will not remember everything that the speaker says, the listener only recalls memorable moments that defines the characteristics of the speaker. By speaking in a polite manner, the listener will form a rough idea that the speaker is well mannered and knows who to properly converse with people by recalling those memorable moments. The use of polite speech is especially important in creating a notable first impression with whoever you are speaking to, which will open more opportunities for a better future.

Secondly, polite speech is present whenever we address a person with elevated credentials in the form of honorifics. Honorifics such as doctor, professor, and judge are used whenever people address doctors, professors, and judges, respectively. It is not necessary to use these honorifics when talking to them, but it is an unspoken courtesy to call them by the title that they have worked hard to earn. By using such honorifics, people are acknowledging the work that the doctors or judges have invested into themselves to earn such a respectable job and title. Moreover, this doesn’t stop with just people who have respectable job titles, polite speech is used to relay respect with elders as well. Starting from a young age, children are taught to speak with respect to anyone older than them in a majority of cultures. Especially in Asian cultures, the idea of speaking and treating elders with respect is ingrained into family tradition as it is common for younger generations to care and interact with the older generations in a much more polite manner compared to when people of the same generation speak towards each other. As a method of relaying respect to elders and reputable people, polite speech is practiced whenever people interact with them, and therefore, is much more than just filler words.

Finally, although some who use polite speech may say that polite speech only serves as filler speech with little to no actual use, in fact, polite speech is a necessity in our first world society. For example, polite speech is an expectation in an environment such as an office. It is an unspoken rule to speak as such to a supervisor, manager and even your coworkers. It can be inferred that no work would be accomplished as the workers requests and questions would go unanswered if they don’t display politeness and courtesy towards the people surrounding them. Polite speech gives the speaker a sense of credibility and of possession of mannerly behavior, which in turn targets the human weakness towards ethos to sway the receiver of such speech to help the speaker with anything. Polite speech in a workplace does not only help get work done, but it also cheers the office up with the spread of politeness around the office. By using polite speech in a work environment or any other environment, you are triggering the spread of politeness as the person you displayed politeness to will in turn display politeness to another person and so on. The use of polite speech is crucial in an environment like an office in promoting positive manners, politeness and work.


In conclusion, polite speech is more than just words that fill in the empty pauses when we speak, they serve an important, yet hidden, purpose. The use of polite speech is seen in all types of environments and towards all kinds of people. As humans, we are weak towards credible and mannerly speech; therefore, it is clear that polite speech could not play a lesser role like filler words. Polite speech functions in building connections and relationships (which is a necessity in today’s world), to express respect to any elder or respectable person that we interact with and as a method of persuasion to the recipients of those words to assist the person speaking.       

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The Polite Speech And Unspoken Societal Expectation. (2021, October 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from
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