Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 14. Number 3 September 2023                               Pp.231-254

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Unveiling the Subtle Art of Politeness: An Analysis of Jordanian Educators’ Deployment of
Linguistic Strategies in the Official WhatsApp Group

Suzan Farouq F. Hussein
English Language Department, Faculty of Languages and Communication, Universiti Sultan Zainal
Abidin, Gong Badak Campus, 21300 Kuala Nerus, Terengganu, Malaysia

Radzuwan Ab Rashid
English Language Department, Faculty of Languages and Communication, Universiti Sultan Zainal
Abidin, Gong Badak Campus, 21300 Kuala Nerus, Terengganu, Malaysia
Applied Science Research Centre, Applied Science Private University, Amman, Jordan
Corresponding author:


Received: 06/06/2023            Accepted:08/17/2023                     Published: 09/24/2023


The advent of the digital landscape has significantly transformed the communication practices of educators. Within this evolving context, an intriguing aspect that warrants scholarly investigation is their politeness strategies within official institutional WhatsApp groups. It aims to shed light on the complexities of educators’ interactions in the digital environment by closely examining their linguistic choices. The application of politeness expressions among teachers themselves and in their interactions with superiors proves to be a beneficial strategy for achieving effective communication. Using an ethnographic method, the careful observation of 163 messages shared by 20 teachers in the official WhatsApp groups was conducted over six months. The comprehensive politeness framework proposed by Brown and Levinson (1987) provided the foundation for the discursive analysis, complemented by the insightful perspective of Holmes and Stubbe (2015). This study unravels Jordanian English language teachers’ strategic deployment of all four politeness strategies in the official WhatsApp group. Positive politeness emerges as teachers’ predominant strategy to cultivate a sense of closeness and maintain harmonious relationships among colleagues and superiors. Interestingly, teachers display heightened awareness of their linguistic choices when addressing leaders, employing positive politeness to convey deference. In contrast, when communicating with colleagues of equal status, they often opt for a more direct and explicit “bald-on-record” approach. It is noteworthy that superiors also exhibit a discerning awareness of their linguistic choices, employing an “off-record” strategy when addressing faculty members. This study has implications for enhancing a supportive work environment for educators by providing insights into effective communication, professional relationships, and positive teaching settings.
Keywords: Discourse, linguistic strategies, English language teachers, Jordanian Educators, WhatsApp, politeness

Cite as: Hussein, S.F.F., & Rashid,R.A. (2023). Unveiling the Subtle Art of Politeness: An Analysis of Jordanian Educators’ Deployment of Linguistic Strategies in the Official WhatsApp Group. Arab World English Journal, 14 (3) 231-254.


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Received: 06/06/2023  
Accepted: 08/17/2023  
Published: 09/24/2023    

Suzan Farouq Hussein is a Ph.D. student at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin in the Faculty of Languages and Communication. She obtained her Master’s degree from the Hashemite University in Jordan. Currently, she is teaching in Saudi Arabia at Hafr Albatin University. Her research interests include teacher education and professional development, sociolinguistics, and discourse analysis on social media. ORCID:

Radzuwan Ab Rashid is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Languages and Communication, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Malaysia. He obtained his PhD in Education from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom and he completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Leeds exploring Applied Linguistics in an educational context. His research interests include teacher education, professional development, and contemporary discourse in online settings. ORCID: