Conventional linguistic impoliteness

Jonathan Culpeper

Lancaster University, UK

WS211: Language in Conflict

Despite some early brief attempts, it is only in recent years that there has been a concerted effort to explore conflictual interactions containing what might be labelled “impoliteness” or “rudeness” (Culpeper 2005; Bousfield and Locher 2008). Much of this recent work focusses on how to get impoliteness off the theoretical starting-block, draws up programmatic statements and undertakes case studies of specific local contexts (though see Bousfield 2008, for something more comprehensive). This contrasts with the classic, and most cited work on politeness, namely, Brown and Levinson (1987), which contains a comprehensive description of “pragmatic strategies” and “linguistic output strategies” for achieving politeness. The main objective of this paper is to assess what kind of description of linguistic impoliteness might be possible, show how it can be operationalised, and begin to put it into action. I will draw in particular on Terkourafi’s (e.g. 2001) work, as well as work in corpus linguistics (e.g. Hoey 2005). Apart from discussing the notion of conventionality, I will also touch on creativity.

Bousfield, D. (2008) Impoliteness in Interaction. Pragmatics and Beyond New Series. Vol 167. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Bousfield, D. and Locher, M. (2008) Impoliteness in Language. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Culpeper, (2005) Impoliteness and entertainment in the television quiz show: The Weakest Link’ Journal of Politeness Research 1: 35-72.

Hoey, M. (2005) Lexical Priming: A new theory of words and language. London and New York: Routledge.

Terkourafi, M. (2001) Politeness in Cypriot Greek: A frame-based Approach. Unpublished PhD, University of Cambridge, Cambridge.

Session: Workshop: Language in Conflict
Friday, April 4, 2008, 15:45-17:15
room: 18