chapter  2
28 Pages


Importance of Face and Stance
WithGerrard Mugford

This theoretical chapter outlines how face and stance offer foreign-language users interpersonal choices regarding how they want to deal with, negotiate or confront uncomfortable, impolite and aggressive situations. Interactants may seek to collaborate with, or distance themselves from, others whilst still trying to project their individuality. An individual EFL user can interact in the target-language situation with the face of an anonymous language user, a capable anybody or a full-fledged somebody. At the same time, stance involves taking up a position and formulating the desired reaction.

The chapter explores Goffman’s concept of face which is constructed and is ‘on loan’ in each situation. Brown and Levinson’s positive and negative face can also help foreign-language learners emphasise distance/closeness. Meanwhile, Spencer-Oatey offers concrete face management goals (e.g. worth, dignity, honour, reputation and competence) which interactants may want to seek when confronted with confusion, impoliteness and hostility.

When projecting their face in problematic foreign-language situations, interactants develop a stance which involves assessment, action and accessing the necessary pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic resources.