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Blum-Kulka's argument against Brown and Levinson's claim is based on empirical research and not on any sort of philosophical argument. Blum-Kulka conducted research with speakers of both Hebrew and English. Those experiments were meant to determine whether speakers of those languages perceived that off record indirect strategies (essentially hinting at what one wants rather than directly requesting it) were more polite than on record ones. Her research found that her subjects felt that negatively polite, indirect, speech (requests like "I hate to bother you, but I was wondering if I might borrow...) were more polite than the off record, hinting, strategy.
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