Based on Brown and Levinson (1987: 61) “Face is derived from the notion of Goffman and English people which is related to the idea of being embarrassed or humiliated, or ‘loosing Face’.” Since Face is something that is emotionally invested, can be lost, maintained, or enhanced, a person has to pay attention to his interlocutor’s Face. In other words, the speaker and the hearer must cooperate in maintaining each other’s Face in interaction. The action of maintaining each other’s Face called ‘Face work’.
Moreover, Goffman in Renkema (1993: 13) introduces the concept of face as an image which is projected by a person in his social contacts with others. Face has the meaning as in the saying to loose fact. Based on the opinion of Goffman, every participant in the social process has the need to be appreciated by others and the need to be free and not to be disturbed. He calls the need to be appreciated as a ‘positive face’ and the need to be free or not to be disturbed is called as ‘negative face’.
While negative face is defined as the desire of every member that he has Freedom of Action as well as freedom of imposition (the desire to not to be disturbed). For example is a father who is in the middle of giving advice to his children expects that his children do not tend to interrupt his speech (freedom of imposition).
Face Threatening Acts (FTA)
Politeness strategies are developed for the main purpose of dealing with the FTA’s. We understand the notion of ‘face’ previously from the dramaturgical theories of Erving Goffman that individuals as social actors perform (present a public self) on the stage of everyday life. The acts that threaten either the negative or positive face of the hearer are called ‘Face Threatening Acts’ (FTA) (Brown and Levinson, 1987: 65). There are acts that threaten the H’s Negative Face such as order, request, suggestion, advice, reminding, threat, warning, offer, promise, compliment and expression of negative emotion. Here, the speaker does not intend to avoid impeding H’s Freedom of Action. For example, when you ask someone to lend you some money, you are considered threaten that person’s Negative Face. It happens since you have violated his want to be free from being imposed.
In contrast, there are acts that threaten the H’s Positive Face such as expression of dissatisfaction, criticisms, complaints, accusation, and insult, disagreement, out of control emotion, irreverence, and bringing bad news about H or boasting about S, raising divisive topics, and blatant non-cooperation in an activity. All these acts indicate that the speaker does not care about the addressee’s feeling or wants. For example, disagreeing with someone’s opinion also causes a threat to his Positive Face, as it means that you indicate that he is wrong about something.