Self and other ; say nothing
One way to see the relevance of the relationship between these politeness concepts and language use is to take a single speech event and map out the different interpretations associated with different possible expressions used within that event. For example, you arrive at an important lecture, pull out your notebook to takes note, but discover that you don’t have anything to write with. You think that the person sitting next to you may provide the solution. In the scenario, you are going to be “self” , and the person next to you is going to be “other”.
Your first choice is whether to say something or not. You can, of course, rummage in your bag, search rather obviously through your pockets, go back in to your bag, without uttering a word, but with the vague intention that your problem will be recognized. This “say nothing” approach may or may not work, but if it does, it’s because the other offers and not because the self asks, as in (3).
(3) self: (looks in bag)
Other: ( offers pen ) here, use this.
Many people seem to prefer to have their needs recognized by others without having to express those needs in language. When those needs are recognized, as in (3), then clearly more has been communicated than was said.
From ; book Pragmatics, George Yule
Oxford university press.