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POLITENESS STRATEGIES USED BY SHAY PATRICK CORMAC AS THE MAIN CHARACTER OF THE
“ASSASSIN’S CREED: ROGUE” VIDEO GAME

Dwi Anugrah Purnama Yanmea, Sri Mulatsih


Universitas Dian Nuswantoro

ABSTRACT

This thesis is titled “Politeness Strategies Used by Shay Patrick Cormac as the Main
Character of the “Assassin’s Creed: Rgoue” Video Game”. This study aims to answer two
questions: what kinds of Politeness Strategy did Shay used and why did he use one of them
the most. The researcher used descriptive qualitative method as the research method of
this study. The data that this study analyzed was all of Shay Patrick Cormac utterances in
the “Assassin’s Creed: Rogue” video game. In order to find the types of strategies the
protagonist used, Brown and Levinson (1987) theory of Politeness Strategies was used to
analyze the data, which consists of Bald On-record, Positive Politeness, Negative
Politeness, and Off-record. This study found that from all of Shay’s utterances: 13
utterances contained Bald On-record strategies, 36 utterances contained Positive
Politeness strategies, 10 utterances contained Negative Politeness strategies, and 6
utterances contained Off-record strategies. From the findings, it can be said that Shay used
Positive Politeness more often than the other strategies. This was due to Shay’s social rank,
and his need in gaining trusts and allies, not to mention his need to maintain a good
relationship.

Keywords: Politeness Strategy, Shay Patrick Cormac, Pragmatics, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue,
Positive Politeness

ABSTRAK

Penelitian ini berjudul “Strategi Kesopanan yang Digunakan oleh Shay Patrick Cormac
sebagai Tokoh Utama pada Video Game “Assassin’s Creed: Rogue”.”. Penelitian ini
bertujuan untuk menjawab dua pertanyaan: strategi kesopanan apa yang digunakan Shay
dan mengapa Shay lebih sering menggunakan salah satunya. Dalam penelitian ini, peneliti
menggunakan metode deskriptif kualitatif sebagai metode penelitiannya. Data yang
dianalisis adalah semua ucapan yang diutarakan Shay Patrick Cormac dalam video game
“Assassin’s Creed: Rogue”. Agar dapat menemukan jenis-jenis strategi yang digunakan
oleh tokoh protagonis, peneliti menggunakan teori Strategi Kesopanan oleh Brown and
Levinson (1987) untuk menganalisis data, yang terdiri dari Bald On-record, Positive
Politeness, Negative Politeness, dan Off-record. Peneliti menemukan, bahwa dari semua
ucapan Shay: 13 ucapan Shay mengandung strategi Bald On-record, 36 ucapan Shay
mengandung strategi Positive Politeness, 10 ucapan Shay mengandung strategi Negative
Politeness, dan 6 ucapan Shay mengandung strategi Off-record. Dari temuan ini dapat
disimpulkan bahwa Positive Politeness lebih sering digunakan dibandingkan strategi-
strategi lainnya. Hal ini disebabkan oleh peringkat sosial Shay dan kebutuhannya dalam
mendapatkan kepercayaan dan sekutu baru. Shay juga menggunakan Positive Politeness
demi menjaga hubungan baik antara teman-temannya.

Kata Kunci: Strategi Kesopanan, Shay Patrick Cormac, Pragmatis, Assassin’s Creed: Rogue,
Kesopanan Positif

INTRODUCTION
Language is a tool functioning as a way of communication. Lyons (1981:8) stated
that “languages are systems of symbols designed, as it were, for the purpose of
communication”. Communication is needed for us human beings, to be able to transfer
ideas by verbal or non-verbal ways. However in doing so, our ways of communication
reflects our culture and even become a part of our culture.
There are many aspects of a culture; one of them is politeness. Politeness in
language is acts (in language use) that threaten the face of the hearer part of the
communication. Face here means a person’s self-worth and self-image, in other words,
any acts that might affect others’ dignity. In effect of this, Brown and Levinson (1987:91-
225) found four strategies of initiating face threatening act (FTA). The reason why this
theory is used as the focus of this study is due to many of these strategies can be seen in
our everyday lives. However as time progresses we can see the application of the
strategies even in entertainment media.
Entertainment comes in many different forms; one of such is video games. Since
its first generation of consoles, video gaming is still continuing to grow and even outgrows
the movie industry. According to a game producer Al Nelson (2017) in the site:
https://www.quora.com/Is-the-Video-Game-industry-bigger-than-the-Film-and-Music-
Industries “the global Movie Box-Office total for 2016 was over $38.6 Billion, while gaming
industry earn $34 Billion on PC gaming alone. Console games had earned $30 Billion and
Mobile games pulled $40 Billion, in other words video gaming industry had managed to
triple the earnings of movie industry.” All of that are achieved through the ever-
hardworking gaming console companies such as: Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, and game
developers such as: Bethesda, Rockstar and From Software that are keep on pushing
forward, inventing new and exciting gaming experience for all to enjoy.
Not only grow their earnings, gaming face also change over the years. Long gone
the stereotype of “video games are for children”, now video games become more
intricate, detailed and deep for those older than 16 can enjoy. Learning from their cousin,
the movie industry, video games narratives had grown to accompany the gameplay. Even
those who usually work behind the production of a movie, sometimes lend their hand in
order to construct a beautiful game. Some even say that video games are an interactive
movie, which we the players are the main character, giving our input to be able to
progress the narrative provided by the developers.
This study analyzes the game: “Assassin’s Creed: Rogue” which was released in 11
November 2014. The game was developed by Ubisoft Sofia and published by Ubisoft and
it’s the 8th game of the “Assassin’s Creed” franchise. The setting takes place in mid-18th
century during the Seven Years’ War in locations such as the Appalachian River Valley,
North Atlantic, and New York. The game fuse historical events as well as their brand of
fiction storytelling, due to this fact, historical figures such as George Washington, and
Benjamin Franklin make an appearance. The story of the game follows Shay Patrick
Cormac, a new Brotherhood recruit, as he learns what it takes to become an Assassin and
how he will perceive the Creed the Assassins follows as well as the principles of the
Templars. The language used in this game are somewhat modern English with some 18 th
century slang included.
As games provided more and more intricate narratives, language plays a big part
of it and similar to games, language grows larger and larger, as seen by many new words
are added into the dictionary. As we know language is a communication tool between
individuals as a form of symbol made by our sound-making organs and this tool is utilized
to interchange information to one another. Communication plays a big part in a story;
characters would communicate with each other as the story progress. Like real life, these
communications using language contain many linguistics elements within them. One of
which is Politeness Strategies.
This study focuses on the Politeness Strategies used by the main character, Shay
Patrick Cormac in Assassin’s Creed: Rogue video game developed by Ubisoft. The reason
why the topic: Politeness Strategies used by Shay Patrick Cormac in Assassin’s Creed:
Rogue video game was chosen because as the game are inspired by true events of the
Caribbean pirates in 1721 and trying to find out if any form of politeness was still being
use even in the midst of battle and savagery of pirates.
“Assassin’s Creed: Rogue” shows the interactions between Shay and many of his
allies, such as: his mentor, friends, and acquaintances. We can also see his interactions
with his friends turned foes, or even foes turned allies. With the setting of war and hidden
organizations, the people around him are people with rankings. Shay’s choice of words
differs whenever he talks with different people and many other factors are also
consdered.
RESEARCH METHOD

Data and subject


The data of this study were “Assassin’s Creed: Rogue” video game and Shay
Patrick Cormac as the subject of the study.

Unit of Analysis
In this research, the researcher discussed about any kinds of utterances done by
Shay Patrick Cormac that contained Politeness Strategies.

Technique of Data Collection and Analysis


Before the analysis began, the researcher collected the data. The researcher
played the game on a gaming console and watched the game through videos that were
uploaded on the internet while trying to experience the whole narrative of the game and
trying to recognize some utterances done by Shay Patrick Cormac which may contain
Politeness Strategies. Then the researcher recorded the narratives of the game as well as
looking up the script of the game to trasncribe them. Transcribing will also help to gain a
greater grasps of the dialogue which may contain Politeness Strategies.
Example:

Turn Name Utterances


2. Shay Admit it, I nearly had you!
Nearly counts for nothing Shay. And
3. Liam
besides, no… that was just luck.
After the data had been collected from “Assassin’s Creed: Rogue” video game,
the data were analyzed into six steps. First, the researcher read the transcript and
identified the Politeness Strategies used by Shay Patrick Cormac. Second, the researcher
classified the Politeness Strategies into four types: Bald On-record, Positive Politeness,
Negative Politeness, and Off-record. Third, the researcher calculated which strategies are
used most by Shay Patrick Cormac. Fourth, the researcher tried to find out the reason why
that particular strategy were used most. Fifth, the researcher interpreted the findings.
Lastly, the researcher drew the conclusion and used the conclusion as the result of the
research.

FINDING AND DISCUSSION

Finding
Table 1 is the finding of the frequency of Politeness Strategies used by Shay
Patrick Cormac in the “Assassin’s Creed: Rogue” video game.

Table 1 The Frequency of Politeness Strategies Used by Shay Patrick Cormac


No. Politeness Strategies Occurrences Percentage
1 Bald On-record
Non-minimization of the FTA 13 20.0%
2 Positive Politeness
Exaggerate 1 1.5%
Use in-group identities 1 1.5%
Seek agreement 1 1.5%
Avoid disagreement 5 7.7%
Joke 3 4.6%
Offer, promise 13 20.0%
Include both speaker and hearer 3 4.6%
Give gift 9 13.8%
Total 36 55.4%
3 Negative Politeness
Conventionally indirect 8 12.3%
Minimize imposition 1 1.5%
Incurring a debt 1 1.5%
Total 10 15.4%
4 Off-record
Presuppose 1 1.5%
Use contradiction 1 1.5%
Rhetorical question 1 1.5%
Be incomplete 3 4.6%
Total 6 9.2%
Total (all) 65 100.0%
Table 1 shows that Shay used all four Politeness Strategies which is: Bald On-
record, Positive Politeness, Negative Politeness, and Off-record in the “Assassin’s Creed:
Rogue” video game. The researcher found 13 Bald On-record strategies (20.0%), 36
Positive Politeness strategies (55.4%), 10 Negative Politeness strategies (15.4%) and 6 Off-
record strategies (9.2%). Based on this findings, Positive Politeness has the highest
occurrences than the other Politeness Strategies.

Discussion
Bald On-record
The reason behind using Bald On-record is “when the speaker wants to do FTA
with maximum efficiency.” Bald On-record consists of two strategies: 1. Non-minimization
of the FTA; and 2. FTA-oriented Bald On-record. Based on table 4.1, the researcher found
that Shay Patrick Cormac only used 13 Non-minimization of the FTA strategy but no of
FTA-oriented Bald On-record strategy.
Non-minimization of the FTA
Shay used this strategy when both he and the hearer know maximum efficiency
is needed. Shay Patrick Cormac usage of this strategy can be seen on the following
excerpts:

Excerpt 1

Context: Shay rescued Colonel Monro who was in threat of getting ambushed.

348. Shay : Sir, we must hurry. We should bring what’s left of your
men to the Morrigan.
349. Colonel Monro : A welcome offer, Captain Cormac. Follow me! Safe
passage is ahead.

The utterance: “…we must hurry.” shows the urgency of the situation that they
both are in. Knowing that, Shay, who is technically Monro’s subordinate, giving orders to
Monro so that they both are safe. Due to the urgency nature of the situation, they both
know that maximum efficiency is needed.
Excerpt 2

Context: Captain Cook and Shay were ambushed in the middle of the sea. Shay
ordered his men in order to survive the ambush.

571. Captain Cook : It’s an ambush!


572. Shay : Steady the ship! Where are they?

Shay ordered his men with the utterance: “Steady the ship!”. This shows that Shay
is more powerful than his men, as Shay is the captain of the ship “Morrigan”. This order
was uttered also due to the emergency of the situation.

Positive Politeness
This strategy is used to satisfy the hearer’s positive face which is “the need to be
accepted and liked by others and our need to feel that our social group shares common
goals.”

Exaggerate (interest, approval, sympathy with hearer)


Shay exaggerated intonation, stress, and other aspect. Example of Shay usage of
this strategy can be seen below:

Excerpt 3

Context: Shay had done with today’s training and approaching his mentor
Achilles, who was almost done talking with his guest. Achilles gave a couple of guns to
Shay.

58. Achilles : Shay! I hear you’ve become quite the marksman.


59. Shay : A generous gift. Thank you, Mentor.

Shay utterance: “A generous gift.” exaggerate Achilles’s action of giving a couple


of guns, as the Assassin Brotherhood had already prepared many guns to be given to their
assassins (such as Shay) when they are deemed ready, which is only a matter of time.

Use in-group Identity Markers


Shay claimed common ground by using address forms, of local sayings, etc. Shay
used this strategy in the excerpt below:

Excerpt 4

Context: Shay had just successfully rescued Gist when he spotted his old ship “The
Morrigan”.
268. Gist : Well don’t put your name on the door yet! There may be a few
men left on their ship. Look, their bird is nested right over there.
269. Shay : The Morrigan! What is she doing there? That’s my ship, friend.
Begging your pardon but I must go fetch her back from those
louts.
By uttering “...friend.” Shay was calling someone his friend even though they were
just met. Shay was implicitly satisfied Gist’s positive face by inviting Gist to be his friend.

Seek Agreement
Shay claimed a common ground with the hearer by agreeing with the topic. An
example of this can be seen in the following excerpt:

Excerpt 5

Context: Shay joined the Templars Order and attended the ceremony.

414. Haytham : Do you swear to uphold the principles of our order and all that
for which we stand?
415. Shay : I do.
416. Haytham : And never to share our secrets nor divulge the true nature of
our work?
417. Shay : I do.
418. Haytham : And to do so from now until death – whatever the cost?
419. Shay : I do.

Based on the utterances above, it can be seen that Shay agrees with all of the
vows that Haytham uttered. There fore, Shay claimed common ground with Haytham and
the rest of the Templar Order’s members.

Avoid Disagreement
Shay must agree with the hearer so that they can maintain their face, even by
pretending to be agreeing or be vague about the agreement. Examples of this can be seen
in the following excerpt below:

Excerpt 6

Context: Shay approached Hope for her part of training.

53. Hope : I’m no lady here, don’t you forget it! I’m your teacher… and your
better.
54. Shay : Well some of that is true, at least. What will we be doing?

Shay deliberately avoided explicitly saying which part of Hope’s statement that
he disagreed with, making it vague and therefore avoiding to disagree explicitly with her.
Joke
Shay joked to minimize his FTA created by making a request. Examples of this
strategy can be seen in the following excerpt:

Excerpt 7

Context: Shay, Chevalier and Liam had successfully freed Chevalier’s crew who
was taken prisoners in an English ship. Shay wanted to take the now abandoned ship for
his own.

21. Shay : Speaking of useless, those blockheads won’t be needing this


vessel anymore.
22. Chevalier : This pile of (shit?) You want her, Shay, she is yours. Now bring
me back to my ship.

Shay’s intention to take the ship for his own was done by making a joke so that
he wouldn’t threat any possibilities that Chevalier or Liam would want the ship as well.
The joke here was that the former crew of the ship were all dead, so that ship was already
ownerless.

Offer, Promise
To redress the FTA, Shay promised anything that the hearer need and will help to
fulfil it. Examples of this can be seen from the following excerpt:

Excerpt 8

Context: Shay had just acquainted with Colonel Monro and believed in his cause.
Shay wanted to do something to further Monro’s cause.

259. Monro : Then perhaps you could get a friend of mine out of trouble? He
discovered a nest of criminals developing strange weapons. Look
at these. Bullets as loud and bright as firecrackers. If we might
have a moment alone… His name is Christopher Gist, and he
might be in over his head. I fear these brutes will hang him like a
dog.
260. Shay : I will not let those outlaws have another victim.

Shay promised to rescue Gist in order to be trusted by Colonel Monro and vice
versa. He claimed this promise in order to redress his FTA so that he can be allied with
Monro.

Include Both the Speaker and the Hearer in the Activity


Shay used inclusive form of “we” instead of “you” or “me” when the speaker
wants to do something. Examples of this strategy can be seen on the following excerpt:
Excerpt 9

Context: Shay had done with today’s training and ready to go on another mission.
Before he departed, he exchanged words with his friend Liam.

68. Liam : Plan or no plan, we choose our own battlefield. And hey, are we
not most at ease when we’re at sea?
69. Shay : Right you are. Let’s set sail.

Even though Shay is the captain of the ship, he doesn’t want to order his friend
who was his first mate. Instead of saying “Prepare the ship.” he uttered: “Let’s set sail.”
Shay uttered his wants by inviting Liam to do it with him.

Give Gift
Shay satisfied the hearer’s face by action, not only giving tangible gift, but also
sympathy, understanding. Examples of this strategy can be seen on the excerpt below:

Excerpt 10

Context: Shay approached Chevalier whose ship was wrecked.

117. Shay : Chevalier! What happened to your vessel?


118. Chevalier : I got myself into a bit of a scrape. Sent three ships in all hands
to their watery graves, Le Gerfaut nearly followed them down.

Shay showed sympathy towards Chevalier by asking: “What happened to your


vessel?” therefore satisfying Chevalier positive face.

Negative Politeness
This strategy is used in order to satisfy the hearer Negative Face (right to
independence of action and need not to be imposed by others.).

Conventionally Indirect
Speakers must express their desire indirectly to the hearer. In this strategy a
speaker faced with opposing tensions: the desires to give hearer an “out by being indirect
and they desire to go on record.” Examples of this strategy can be seen on the following
excerpt:

Excerpt 11

Context: Shay, imposing as a British Soldier, asked Franklin to hand over the result
of his experiment. However, Franklin denied as his experiment were in a halt.
156. Franklin : The army confiscated my lightning rods. They are essential to
conducting the electricity I need to vivify your Box.
157. Shay : Master Johnson would not want have to wait.

Instead of ordering Franklin to give the result now, Shay uttered: “Master Johnson
would not want have to wait.” Master Johnson is the leader of the British Army and by
implying that Master Johnson would be angry, Shay indirectly ordered Franklin to hurry
up.

Incurring a Debt or not Indebting Hearer


Shay expressed his want directly, but with as if indebted to hearer if indulged
(request), or as if it does not feel burdened by someone if asked to do anything (offer).
Shay used this strategy once and can be seen on the following excerpt:

Excerpt 12

Context: Shay had just recovered from his injuries, but Monro came with a
request.

257. Monro : Master Cormac. I am sorry to bother you when you are barely
out of your sickbed.
258. Shay : No I—I’ve had enough of being cooped up.

By Shay utterance, he showed that Monro’s request was nothing that he couldn’t
handle, even after he just recovered. By doing this, Monro wouldn’t be burdened by a
debt of this request.

Off-record
This strategy uses indirect language and removes the speaker from the potential
to be imposing. The speaker does FTA but be indirect. Invite conversational implicatures,
via hints triggered by violation of Gricean Maxims.

Presuppose
An utterance can be almost wholly relevant in context and yet violate maxim
relevance just at the level of its presuppositions. Shay used this strategy once and can be
seen on the following excerpt:

Excerpt 13

Context: Shay was late for training, and he received comments from his Brothers.

39. Shay : We’re always training, Kesegowase!


40. Kesegowase : And will continue to do so.
Shay presupposed that he had enough training and wasted time by doing so. By
saying this, Shay actually didn’t want to train.

Use Contradiction
The speaker violated quality maxim with using contradiction in the utterance, the
speaker forces the hearer to find assumption about their feeling. Shay used this strategy
once and can be seen on the following excerpt:

Excerpt 14

Context: After Shay took the result of Franklin’s experiment, Monro came by.

323. Monro : Is something the matter, Master Cormac?


324. Shay : No no, yes, just... old memories.

Shay answered Monro question in a contradictory manner. He doesn’t want to


answer the question explicitly, and expect Monro to find assumption about his meaning.

Use Rhetorical Question


Asking a question, but leave the answer hanging in order to provide the speaker
with the indicated information. Shay used this strategy once and can be seen on the
following excerpt:

Excerpt 15

Context: After their battle, Liam and Shay sprawled on the ground.

623. Liam : That was... lucky.


624. Shay : How many times do I have to tell you, Liam? I make my own
luck.

Shay doesn’t directly say that he had been telling Liam that he make his own luck.
Throughout his life, Shay had said his life motto multiple times, by using the rhetorical
question, Shay channel his frustration.

Be Incomplete, Use Ellipsis


Leaving the FTA undone, the speaker can leave the implicature hanging and this
strategy much violated quantity maxim as of manner maxim. An example of this strategy
can be seen on the following excerpt:

Excerpt 16

Context: After Shay took the result of Franklin’s experiment, Monro came by.
323. Monro : Is something the matter, Master Cormac?
324. Shay : No no, yes, just... old memories.

Shay purposely answered Monro’s question incomplete, letting Monro to


complete the puzzle on his own imagination. He didn’t completely say what was exactly
going on in his mind.

CONCLUSION
Based on the analysis above, it can be concluded that on the “Assassin’s Creed: Rogue”
video game, there are 4 Politeness Strategies used by Shay Patrick Cormac: Bald On-
record, Positive Politeness, Negative Politeness, and Off-record. It is found that there
were 13 instances of Bald On-record strategy, 36 instances of Positive Politeness strategy,
10 instances of Negative Politeness strategy, and 6 instances of Off-record strategy.
Positive Politeness strategies were the most often used Politeness Strategy by Shay
Patrick Cormac due to Shay’s formality towards his assassin’s Brothers and later, his
Templars allies. Social status was also a factor due to Shay’s title as a ship captain which
was almost higher than anyone he came in contact with. Another reason could also
because Shay was in a secret organization he would need the trust of his comrades and
so he wanted to maintain a good relationship with them and also anyone that the
organization deemed profitable.

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