EFFECTS OF FACE THREATENING ACTS IN FICTIONAL CONVERSATIONS: A STUDY OF AKACHI ADIMORA-EZEIGBO’S THE LAST OF THE STRONG ONES
This paper examined effects of face threatening acts (FTAs) in Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo’s The Last of the Strong Ones. This was done in order to find out the nature of FTAs used in the novel and how they contribute to breakdown of social relations among characters as well as to the development of the theme of the novel. The study adopted Brown & Levinson’s (1978, 1987) model of politeness theory and used excerpts from The Last of the Strong Ones as data. Both qualitative and quantitative analytical methods were adopted; face threatening texts identified in the novel were analysed in terms of the frequency of occurrence and types of illocutionary acts used to threaten face. A total of 157 FTAs were identified in the novel; 151 (96.2%) of them were verbal and only 6 (3.8%) were non-verbal. The findings revealed that hearers were threatened more than speakers in conversations; that the threats affected more of negative (58.6%) than positive (41.4%) face; that the face threatening speech acts vary, but consist mainly of ordering (19), reminding (18), and challenging (15); and that more than one speech act is assigned to an utterance in conversations in the novel. The study expanded the knowledge of FTAs in fictional conversations, confirmed Brown & Levinson’s assertion that FTAs are inevitable in interaction and concluded that unmitigated FTAs adversely affect social interactions among characters in fictional discourse. The study recommends that interactants should explore linguistic elements that carry the illocutionary force that will help to maintain their relationships instead of destroy them.
Face, politeness, mitigation, fictional conversations, speech acts, threatening acts