Document Type

Conference Paper or Presentation


This paper combines two conference presentations of 2019: “The Virtuous Politeness” at the 29th Christian Association of World Languages (CAWL) Conference at Baylor University and “When One Size Does Not Fit All: Teaching Variation in the Use of Politeness” at the Kuyers/International Network for Christian Higher Education (INCHE) Conference at Calvin University. In light of studies of politeness as a social practice and a virtue, the author conducted a small survey of adults at institutions of higher education in and around two places: Orange City, Iowa, USA and Bahía Blanca, Argentina. The survey results not only reinforce already-existing evidence that politeness is present in everyday life, affecting the way we relate to others, it is also situational and culturally dependent. Politeness is applied and interpreted according to norms and conventions that vary not only between English- and Spanish-speaking cultures but even within the Spanish-speaking world. Gonzalez concludes that it is important to offer United States students of the Spanish language a wider view of politeness that will better prepare them for encountering diverse forms and expressions that could be interpreted as polite or impolite when studying or living abroad.

About the Author

Dr. Diana Gonzalez' main interests revolve around how languages function and behave, especially in fields related to language in society and meaning. She has presented on those topics at national conferences of the North American Christian Foreign Language Association. Prior to joining Northwestern's faculty, Dr. Gonzalez served with Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics, teaching at the Ricardo Palma University in Lima, Perú. Originally from Argentina, she also taught Spanish and German at Dordt College, as well as graduate and undergraduate linguistic courses at the universities of Chihuahua and Zacatecas in Mexico, and worked as an editor for a publishing ministry in Costa Rica.



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