Rattananukool, Piyanoot (2015) Politeness in Diplomatic Talk: A Thai Case Study. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This research starts from the assumption that there are goal-oriented politeness strategies in diplomatic talk. The case study analyses Thai-foreign diplomatic events during Thailand’s national crisis, the massive demonstrations across the country in the years of
2009-2011, in which the colours of the protesters’ clothing signified divergent political allegiances (so-called “colorized politics”). The research aims are threefold: firstly, to characterise politeness strategies in the Thai-foreign diplomatic talks conducted in English; secondly, to examine the extent to which culture-specific values inform the conversational performance of Thai speakers; and thirdly, to explore potential causes of misunderstandings arising from cross-cultural mismatches which occur during these social interactions. The research data are real-time conversations in courtesy calls and international meetings between foreign diplomatic representatives and the leaders of the Thai state and government agencies. My study is influenced by Brown and evinson’s theory along with intercultural communication theories for analysing the ethnographically observed talk-in-action events and transcribed conversational discourse. The research frames a conclusive argument that the diplomatic speakers use both conventional politeness and
unconventional politeness strategies. The latter includes what I term ‘lexical politeness’, ‘interactive politeness’, and ‘intercultural politeness’. The Thai party’s politeness strategies in pursuit of diplomatic goals carry an implication of Thai cultural values, specifically: fun-orientation, interdependence, and non-confrontation. Potential pragmatic failures in Thai cultural-oriented politeness are intimacy and directness. The research reveals the suppositions and entailments of English utterances by non-native speakers (Thais) and develops linguistic politeness strategies from the evidence of the diplomatic conversations.

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