This paper is a critical review of the article, “Gu, Y.G. (1990). Politeness Phenomena in Modern Chinese. Journal of Pragmatics, 14 (2), 237-257.” Over the recent years, politeness has been one of the highly debated aspects in pragmatic and sociolinguistic studies. Conceptual and empirical studies in various key languages and cultures have shown the socio-cultural differences in regard to how to interpret politeness. The Chinese language is one of such languages that have differing views on politeness (Guangwu, 2007).
The objective of the article is to offer a description of politeness phenomena in contemporary Chinese. This is because the topic has many different dimensions which will be better understood through the analysis of this paper. The audience of the article is language linguists and the general public who use modern Chinese since these will help in better understanding how to use appropriately in conversation and relating to people (Haugh, 2006). The article falls in the Journal of Pragmatics and fits well in the category since the journal addresses issues that are fundamental to the understanding of the manner in which language works in communication. Gu’s article is conceptual rather than empirical since is based on reasoning by use of logic and persuasion instead of providing empirical evidence to support the claim of the author (Bousfield, 2007). The article provides a presentation of story of politeness in the current Chinese language. It describes the concept of politeness and the historical background of the phenomena. The article further compares western understanding of face and courteousness and those of the Chinese. There are four politeness precepts that are established and described.