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Conference Information

Full Title: Multimodal (Im)politeness

Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Start Date: 16-Jul-2017 - 21-Jul-2017
Contact: Lucien Brown
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: The negotiation of (im)politeness that accompanies communicative events is mediated through various modalities, including not only verbal language, but nonverbal aspects such as the sound of the speaker’s voice, and the use of polite bodily and facial gestures. Despite this, detailed analysis of prosody, gesture, and other nonverbal modalities rarely featured in the (im)politeness literature, which was instead dominated by the analysis of verbal (im)politeness. Indeed, Culpeper (2011) observed that “remarkably, the bulk of research on politeness or impoliteness pays woefully little attention to the role of prosody'' (p. 146), and also notes that “non-verbal cues … [receive] relatively little attention in communication and pragmatic studies.”

However, recent years have seen the emergence of a vibrant interest in multimodal components of politeness (see Brown and Prieto, forthcoming). Research has shown that various acoustic and prosodic features correlate with politeness and impoliteness-related meanings including, pitch (e.g., Winter and Grawunder 2012 for Korean), speech rate (e.g. Lin et al. 2006 for Taiwanese), breathiness (e.g., Ito 2004 for Japanese), and pitch contour (e.g., Orozco 2008 for Mexican Spanish). Nonverbal speech sounds such as oral and nasal fillers (e.g., Winter and Grawunder 2012 for Korean), hisses (e.g., Fredsted 2005 for Danish), “kiss teeth” (Figueroa 2005 for Caribbean Creoles), and sounds denoting gustatory pleasure (Wiggins 2013) are also tied up with (im)politeness, as is the use or avoidance of manual gestures (e.g., Ola 2009 for Yoruba), head nods (Kita and Ide 2007 for Japanese) and other nonverbal behaviors. Gestures interact closely with acoustic and prosodic features to modulate the politeness levels of utterances (Nadeu and Prieto 2011) and to distinguish between mock impoliteness and genuine impoliteness (McKinnon and Prieto 2014), and are also crucial in the development of politeness sensitivity in children (Hübscher, Wagner and Prieto 2016). In sign language, interlocutors use mouth gestures, movements of the head and other non-manual features to communicate politeness (George 2011; Mapson 2014). Finally, in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC), interactants make use of cues such as emoticons, nonstandard/multiple punctuation and lexical surrogates to mitigate potential face threat (e.g., Vandergriff 2013; Haugh et al 2015).

The goal of this panel is to bring together politeness researchers whose work focusses on nonverbal elements of communication, or whose work features in depth analysis of these features. Nonverbal elements may include (but are not limited to) the following:

(1) Acoustics and prosody
(2) Non-verbal speech sounds
(3) Gestures, nonverbal behavior, body language
(4) Non-manual features of sign language
(5) CMC (Computer Mediated Communication) cues

The panel will discuss the relevance of these nonverbal elements in the production and perception of (im)politeness across languages and cultures, and investigate the way that these different nonverbal aspects interact with verbal aspects, and with each other. We will also discuss methodological issues related to the study of multimodal impoliteness, as experienced by different researchers and different research labs.
Linguistic Subfield: Pragmatics
LL Issue: 27.2934

This is a session of the following meeting:
15th International Pragmatics Conference

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