On Poetry and Culture Shock

Grice's Maxims 2: of politeness.

I willcontinue with the series of recommendations on how to apply Grice´s Maxims to the composition of dialogues in fiction. Grie's Maxims are four rules that we all follow (and expect others to follow!) in conversation.

Maxim 2 is: Be polite. This is culture-bound. For example, Americans say “Have a nice day” as a standard form of goodbye and it sounds terribly phoney to foreigners (it is impossible to translate into Spanish, it just doesn’t sound credible). Your characters can skip courtesy formulas, or overdo them. In Jane Austen’s Emma there’s a spinster that Emma considers an awful bore, and you get the impression that the poor old lady never stops speaking, but her problem is that she is overpolite, thanking people over and over again. At the other end, consider the power of someone walking in a room and starting to talk without saying hello: there will be a hostility plain to your reader. Agressiveness can be communicated like that, discreetly.

Politeness includes not interrupting people, and letting them speak. If you want a character to be overenthusiastic, rude, violent, anxious, or something like that, they can cut everyone else in the middle of a sentence.

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