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5 - Politeness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2023

Laurel J. Brinton
Affiliation:
University of British Columbia, Vancouver
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Summary

Chapter 5 introduces two approaches to politeness: politeness as the avoidance of face-threatening acts and politeness as the enhancement of communicative concord. Over time, politeness has changed significantly. The Old English period was a period of “discernment” politeness, growing out of the fixed social order. The Middle English period saw the rise of “deference” politeness following the French fashion (i.e., the honorific system of second-person pronouns). A face-based system began in Early Modern English, but studies are not consistent in finding this to be a positive or negative politeness system. The deference politeness system fell out of use. The eighteenth century extolled polite manners and behavior and has been described as a “compliment culture”. The modern period is characterized by “non-imposition” politeness, most obvious in the development of indirect directives (negative politeness). At the same time, a system of camaraderie politeness, which increases solidarity and eliminates distance between individuals, coexists (positive politeness). The chapter provides case studies of compliments, insults, thanks, and responses to thanks in the history of English.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Politeness
  • Laurel J. Brinton, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Pragmatics in the History of English
  • Online publication: 28 September 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009322904.006
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  • Politeness
  • Laurel J. Brinton, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Pragmatics in the History of English
  • Online publication: 28 September 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009322904.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Politeness
  • Laurel J. Brinton, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Pragmatics in the History of English
  • Online publication: 28 September 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009322904.006
Available formats
×