Sincerity in Contrition: From Confessions to Apologies

  • Graham Williams
Part of the New Approaches to English Historical Linguistics book series (NAEHL)


This chapter traces the development of affective apologies expressing contrition (e.g. I am sorry) from their origins in Christian confession to the language of fifteenth-century familiar letters. Apologies were not a part of Old English, and it is only in the late Middle Ages that we find these forms being used outside devotional rituals and between human subjects, at which point they were adopted as part of the pragmatics of courtesy.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EnglishUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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