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Impoliteness Strategies

Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS,volume 4)

Abstract

The “impoliteness strategy”, a kind of parallel to the “politeness strategy”, has dominated research for decades and is still current. However, the notion of a “strategy” is poorly understood and rarely defined. This chapter begins by critically examining this notion, as it is used in linguistics. It argues that in politeness studies it has been overly focused on the idea of a rational linguistic means of achieving certain ends or goals. That a strategy might also involve the coordination of communication through routine and shared linguistic means that are recognised within particular communities seems to have been largely overlooked. The next part of this chapter outlines Culpeper’s (1996) taxonomy of impoliteness strategies, and follows with a critical review. It notes that most problems and controversies lie at the more abstract level of the “superstrategy”. Two particularly controversial areas are discussed. One is the relationship between directness and impoliteness strategies, and especially whether there is some correlation with the degree of offence caused. The other is the relationship between impoliteness strategies and context. The final part of the chapter outlines a more recent bottom-up framework of impoliteness strategies or triggers, and one that, echoing Terkourafi’s (e.g., 2001) work on politeness, places impoliteness conventionalized for particular contexts of use at the centre.

Keywords

  • Context
  • Conventionalization
  • Directness
  • Formulae
  • Impoliteness
  • Politeness
  • Strategy

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Notes

  1. 1.

    Patronising behaviour is perhaps more usually associated with cases where the producer has a more obvious claim to relative power. However, people can engineer a power relationship that suggests that the interlocutor has less power than they think they have. Talking back to a parent implies that the word of the other is far from decisive; it challenges a power hierarchy—it is patronising.

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Correspondence to Jonathan Culpeper .

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Culpeper, J. (2016). Impoliteness Strategies. In: Capone, A., Mey, J. (eds) Interdisciplinary Studies in Pragmatics, Culture and Society. Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology, vol 4. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-12616-6_16

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-12616-6_16

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