How does conflict start?

Derek E Bousfield

University of Central Lancashire, UK

WS211: Language in Conflict

Studies of conflict and conflict resolution rarely concern themselves with the ways in which conflictive situations are triggered. Corsaro and Rizzo (1990) do suggest that conflict begins as an opposition to an ‘antecedent event’. Recent studies concerned with impoliteness in language have begun to consider different ways in which impoliteness is deemed to be an appropriate response to a preceding face-threatening ‘antecedent’ event. Bousfield (2006; 2007) considers the neuro-psycho-social approach of Jay (1992, 2000), but Culpeper, (2005) and Culpeper et al. (2003) surmise that the more linguistic approach of Hutchby (1996, chapter 6) may be a good model for accounting for the reasons why impoliteness (as just one example of conflict) is communicated. This paper, then, seeks to compare and contrast the approaches of Jay and Hutchby to the same data to ascertain which approach, if any, proves to be superior in terms of explanation and elaboration of the antecedent face-threatening event which triggers the explicit communication of verbal exchanges which can be seen to be conflictive.

Bousfield, D. (2006) 'Beginnings, middles and ends: a biopsy of the dynamics of impolite exchanges', Journal of Pragmatics. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2006.11.005.

Bousfield, D. (2007) Impoliteness in Interaction. Pragmatics and Beyond New Series: Volume 167. John Benjamins: Amsterdam/Philadelphia.

Culpeper, Jonathan. (2005) 'Impoliteness and The Weakest Link.' Journal of Politeness Research 1 (1): 35–72.

Culpeper, Jonathan, Derek Bousfield, and Anne Wichmann. 2003. “Impoliteness revisited: With special reference to dynamic and prosodic aspects.” Journal of Pragmatics 35 (10/11): 1545–1579.

Hutchby, Ian (1996) Confrontation Talk: Arguments, Asymmetries, and Power on Talk Radio. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ.

Jay, Timothy (1992) Cursing in America: A Psycholinguistic Study of Dirty Language in the Courts, in the Movies, in the Schoolyards and on the Streets. John Benjamins, Philadelphia.

Jay, Timothy (2000) Why we curse: a Neuro-Psycho-Social theory of speech. John Benjamins, Philadelphia and Amsterdam.

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