Even though languages have many things in common they all differ in the way politeness is present in verbal interactions. What might be polite in certain cultures can be considered impolite in other cultures, and this is due to the relationships among the speaker and the hearer, their context, their social needs, desires, and expectations. In this thesis I will try to provide a contextual explanation for some Colombians' use of lies (as a means of politeness to deceive) in their daily life through conversations based on some of Colombia's history. Lies have become so internalized by many Colombian people in their language that they even feel weird if they tell the truth. This is reflected in the soap opera La Saga, which was very well accepted among the TV viewers due in part to its realistic depiction of reality in Colombian society. The selected conversations will be analyzed taking into account the politeness theory and the concept of "face" proposed by Brown and Levinson. I will also analyze the maxims and the cooperative principle proposed by Grice. These philosophers of language, along with Haverkate, analyzed language based on the idea that we do actions with words. I selected thirteen conversations from the soap opera La Saga, which show the interlocutors lying. My idea is to identify if a speaker is using lies, as a politeness strategy to deceive the hearer. As a result I found that some Colombian people use lies frequently; some lies are more socially- accepted than others and those lies can become acceptable when they satisfy social conventions. Most of the lies found in the recorded conversations were used as a politeness strategy when the speaker intended to deceive the hearer (for whatever reason), which led me to conclude that the desire to protect the speaker's face is stronger than his/her desire to protect the hearer's, either to avoid confrontations, discrepancies, uncomfortable situations or unpleasant interactions.


Gregory Taylor

Committee Member

Kimberly Contag

Committee Member

James Grabowska

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Arts and Humanities

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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