Politeness in Thesis Consultation by WhatsApp: Do Lecturers and Students Apply Different Strategies?

Keywords: Politeness Strategies, Lecturer-student Interaction, WhatsApp


The study of politeness in education setting interaction has increased in last decades. However, the investigation of politeness strategies in lecturer-student interaction using WhatsApp is relatively unexplored. Therefore, this study aims to explore politeness strategies used by a lecturer and students in virtual communication using WhatsApp during thesis consultation.  The researcher applied a mixed method: qualitative and quantitative research to discover the politeness phenomena in WhatsApp interaction. The participants of the study were 10 undergraduate students of English Department, University of HKBP Nommensen, and a lecturer as their thesis consultant. The data of the study consist of 50 screenshots of WhatsApp chats  thesis consultation. The results show that all four types of politeness strategies were found in lecture-students interaction. The politeness strategies used by the lecturer and students differ greatly. The lecturer dominantly employed bald on-record (30. 93%) with the most imperative sentences realization; on the other hand, the students tend to use positive politeness strategy (23.20%) with the most greetings realization. This demonstrates that lecturers keep their distance when communicating, whereas students attempt to “get closer” during the interaction. The different politeness strategy choices are caused by the different power and social status (position) factors between lecturers and students. The findings of this study also show that the politeness strategies chosen by lecturers and students are not always consistent with previous similar studies.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Arsen Nahum Pasaribu, Universitas HKBP Nommensen, Medan, Indonesia

Arsen Nahum Pasaribu is a senior lecturer in English Department, Faculty of Language and Arts, University of HKBP Nommensen Medan. He obtained his Doctoral Degree in Linguistics from University of Sumatera Utara in 2017. His research interests include Discourse Analysis, especially ideology investigation in text. Besides, Pragmatics in Educational settings is also his favorite topics of research. His recent research interests focus on politeness and impoliteness strategies performed by students and teachers in classroom interactions.  During pandemic covid-19, his research focus moves to politeness and impoliteness strategies implemented by students and teachers/lecturers through digital media, such as WhastApp and other social media.

Erikson Saragih, Universitas Prima Indonesia, Medan, Indonesia

Dr. Erikson Saragih, S.Pd, M.Hum is a lecturer of LLDIKTI 1 North Sumatra, who is currently positioned at English Education Department, Faculty of Teacher training and Education, Universitas Prima Indonesia, Medan, Indonesia. He teaches Research Method subject and Linguistic related subjects. He completed his Doctoral degree from Linguistic Department, Universitas Sumatera Utara, Medan majoring in Translation studies. His research interests are Applied Linguistics, Academic Writing and Translation. At present, he is actively writing in both National accredited journals and reputable international journals. Besides, he also actively reviews article manuscripts in 8 accredited national journals (Sinta 2) and 2 reputable international journals (Scopus indexed journals).

Agustinus Gea, Universitas HKBP Nommensen, Medan, Indonesia

Agustinus Gea was born in Ombolata village, North Nias in 1995. He is the four child from the five siblings. He studied at SD BNKP Lahewa in 2009, he continued to  SMP N.1 Lahewa and graduated in 2012, and then he studied at SMA N. 1 Lahewa, and he was graduated in 2014. At the same year he continued his education in English Education Study Program in institute of Teaching Training and Education of Gunungsitoli and graduated in 2018/2019. In 2021, he is pursuing his Master degree in English Education in University of HKBP Nommensen, Medan -North Sumatra. His research interest is pragmatics in education practice.


Adel, S. M. R., Davoudi, M., & Ramezanzadeh, A. (2016). A Qualitative Study of Politeness Strategies Used by Iranian EFL Learners in a Class Blog. Iranian Journal of Language Teaching Research, 4(1), 47–62. http://ijltr.urmia.ac.ir/article_20377_53eda177edc86cd185e9637aa6a9bf7e.pdf

Arif, N., Iskandar, I., Muliati, A., & Patak, A. A. (2018). Male and female lecturers’ politeness strategies in EFL classroom. International Journal of Humanities and Innovation (IJHI), 1(2), 28–38. https://doi.org/10.33750/ijhi.v1i2.11

Ayuningrum, A., Pulungan, R., & S, S. (2019). An Analysis of Politeness Strategies Applied By the Members of UKM Debat,the University of Bengkulu. Journal of English Education and Teaching, 2(4), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.33369/jeet.2.4.1-8

Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1987). Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. In British Library (First). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/3587263

Burenhult, N., & Levinson, S. C. (2008). Language and landscape: a cross-linguistic perspective. Language Sciences, 30(2–3), 135–150. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2006.12.028

Carolus, A., Muench, R., Schmidt, C., & Schneider, F. (2019). Impertinent mobiles - Effects of politeness and impoliteness in human-smartphone interaction. Computers in Human Behavior, 93, 290–300. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2018.12.030

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (Third). SAGE Publications, Inc.

Eshghinejad, S., & Moini, M. R. (2016). Politeness Strategies Used in Text Messaging : Pragmatic Competence in an Asymmetrical Power Relation of Teacher – Student. 2016(March), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244016632288

Feren, M. (2020). Politeness and social change : The metapragmatics of Slovakia ’ s 2018 ʽ decent revolution ʼ. 169, 165–178. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2020.08.020

Fitriyani, S., & Andriyanti, E. (2020). Teacher and Students’ Politeness Strategies in EFL Classroom Interactions. IJELTAL (Indonesian Journal of English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics), 4(2), 259. https://doi.org/10.21093/ijeltal.v4i2.473

Flores-salgado, E., & Castineira-benitez, T. A. (2018). The use of politeness in WhatsApp discourse and move ‘ requests .’ Journal of Pragmatics, 133(6), 79–92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.06.009

Gay, L. R., Mills, G. E., & Airasian, P. (2012). Educational Research (tenth). Pearson Education, Inc.

Healey, P. G. T., Purver, M., & Howes, C. (2014). Divergence in dialogue. PLoS ONE, 9(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0098598

Hobbs, P. (2003). The medium is the message: Politeness strategies in men’s and women’s voice mail messages. Journal of Pragmatics, 35(2), 243–262. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00100-5


Jeanyfer, J., & Tanto, T. (2018). Request Strategies in Indonesian: an Analysis of Politeness Phenomena in Text Messages. Journal of Language and Literature, 18(2), 132–137. https://doi.org/10.24071/joll.2018.180204

Kerbrat-Orecchioni, C. (2011). From good manners to facework. Journal of Historical Pragmatics, 12(1–2), 133–155. https://doi.org/10.1075/jhp.12.1-2.06ker

Khusnia, A. N. (2017). Politeness Strategies in EFL Classroom: Building Positive Values in Students Aulia. In W. Striełkowski (Ed.), 4th Asia Pacific Education Conference (AECON 2017 (Vol. 109, pp. 32–35). Atlantis Press. https://doi.org/10.2991/aecon-17.2017.8

Lakoff, R. (1973). Language and Woman ’ s Place. 2(1), 45–80.

Mahmud, M. (2019). The use of politeness strategies in the classroom context by English university students. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 8(3), 597–606. https://doi.org/10.17509/ijal.v8i3.15258

Maros, M., & Rosli, L. (2017). Politeness Strategies in Twitter Updates of Female English Language Studies Malaysian Undergraduates. 23(1), 132–149. https://doi.org/http://doi.org/10.17576/3L-2017-2301-10

Meiratnasari, A., Wijayanto, A., & Suparno, S. (2019). An analysis of Politeness Strategies in Indonesian English Textbooks. ELS Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, 2(4), 529–540. https://doi.org/10.34050/els-jish.v2i4.8393

Mulyono, H., Amalia, D. R., & Suryoputro, G. (2019). Politeness Strategies in Teacher-Student WhatsApp Communication. PASAA: A Journal of Language Teaching and Learning in Thailand, 58(December), 295–316.

Rahayuningsih, D., Saleh, M., & Fitriati, S. W. (2020). The Realization of Politeness Strategies in EFL Teacher-Students Classroom Interaction. 10(1), 85–93. https://doi.org/10.15294/eej.v10i1.33822

Rejeki, S., & Azizah, A. N. (2019). POLITENESS STRATEGIES PERFORMED BY EFL LEARNERS ’ WITH ENGLISH NATIVE SPEAKERS IN MEDICAL STUDENTS. Humaniora, 10(1), 41–46. https://doi.org/10.21512/humaniora.v10i1.5312

Rosari, M. (2016). Politeness Strategies Applied by the Characters of The Great Debaters Movie. 19(1), 19–33. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.24071/llt.v19i1.309

Sapitri, P. A., Chasanah, A., Putri, A. A., & Paulima, J. (2020). Exploring Brown and Levinson’s Politeness Strategies: An Explanation on the Nature of the Politeness Phenomenon. REiLA : Journal of Research and Innovation in Language, 1(3), 111–117. https://doi.org/10.31849/reila.v1i3.3801

Schaik, P. Van, Volman, M., Admiraal, W., & Schenke, W. (2018). Barriers and conditions for teachers ’ utilisation of academic knowledge. International Journal of Educational Research, 90(May), 50–63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2018.05.003

Sembiring, E., & Sianturi, S. (2019). Politeness Strategies in EFL Classroom Context: Avoiding Future Conflict and Maintain the Harmony of Diversity. Utamax : Journal of Ultimate Research and Trends in Education, 1(3), 105–111. https://doi.org/10.31849/utamax.v1i3.6257

Sifianou, M. (2019). Im / politeness and in / civility : A neglected relationship ? 147, 49–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2019.05.008

Sorlin, S. (2017). The pragmatics of manipulation: Exploiting im/politeness theories Sandrine. Journal of Pragmatics, 121(4), 132–146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2017.10.002

Su, H. (2019). The metapragmatics of Taiwanese ( im ) politeness : Conceptualization and evaluation of limao. Journal of Pragmatics, 148, 26–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2019.05.018

Susanti, R., Sumarlam, S., Djatmika, D., & Rohmadi, M. (2018). Responses to Caring Speech Acts: The Politeness Strategies of Indonesian Students in Academic Activities. In Djatmika (Ed.), 4th PRASASTI International Conference on Recent Linguistics Research (PRASASTI 2018) Responses (Vol. 166, Issue Prasasti, pp. 419–424). Atlantis Press. https://doi.org/10.2991/prasasti-18.2018.77

Xiang, X., Zheng, B., & Feng, D. (2020). Interpreting impoliteness and over-politeness : An investigation into interpreters ’ cognitive effort , coping strategies and their effects. Journal of Pragmatics, 169(1), 231–244. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2020.09.021

Ye, Z. (2019). The politeness bias and the society of strangers. Language Sciences, 76, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2018.06.009

Yusuf, R., & Anwar, A. (2019). An Article Review on “ The Use of Politeness Strategies in the Classroom Context by English University Students .” ELSYA: Journal of English Language Studies, 1(2), 69–73. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.31849/elsya.v1i2.3530

How to Cite
Pasaribu, A. N., Saragih, E., & Gea, A. (2021). Politeness in Thesis Consultation by WhatsApp: Do Lecturers and Students Apply Different Strategies? . Elsya : Journal of English Language Studies, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.31849/elsya.v4i1.6376
Abstract viewed = 144 times
PDF downloaded = 112 times