LINGUIST List 26.2760

Thu Jun 04 2015

Diss: Greek, Modern; Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics: Eleni Karafoti: 'Politeness, Impoliteness and Speaker's Face'

Editor for this issue: Ashley Parker <>

Date: 04-Jun-2015
From: Eleni Karafoti <>
Subject: Politeness, Impoliteness and Speaker's Face
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Institution: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2014

Author: Eleni Karafoti

Dissertation Title: Politeness, impoliteness and speaker's face

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

Subject Language(s): Greek, Modern (ell)

Dissertation Director(s):
Theodossia- Soula Pavlidou
Savas Tsohatzidis
Maria Sifianou

Dissertation Abstract:

The present study examines the social phenomenon of (im)politeness through its linguistic expression. Based on the assumption that participants easily recognize the phenomenon without further instructions, the aim of the research
is twofold: firstly to evaluate the different approaches to (im)politeness and face, and secondly to explore the best way to investigate them in talk-in-interaction.

Taking into account that (im)politeness lacks a clear and commonly accepted description –as the research review has shown- the present study adopts Haugh & Kadar’s (2013) broad delineation of the phenomenon. According to this view, (im)politeness can be considered as a social practice of interpersonal expectations, the latter created by the knowledge of moral order (or of what is expectable). In addition, the present study imputes the problematic nature
of ‘face’ not to its correlation with politeness but to its dissociation from the original framework in which it first appeared, i.e. Goffman’s ‘interaction order’. The latter assumption dictates the return to Goffman’s view of face as
an image of self that others may share, since such a perspective encompasses self and other in the same definition. In this respect, the present research restores Goffman’s emphasis on the individual who each time presents his/her
positive self-image in interaction, i.e. speaker’s face. The more specific aim of the research is determined by both the widely recognized necessity of studying (im)politeness from the participants’ perspective and Goffman’s view of the way social order penetrates interaction order. The emphasis on the participants’ orientation to (im)politeness also
accounts for the selection of Conversation Analysis (CA), which is furthermore compatible with Goffman’s approach. As a consequence, the data consist of naturally occurring talk and, in particular, of conversations among friends/relatives.

More specifically, the study focuses on the participants’ explicit indications of moral order’s violations. For the identification of these violations Heritage’s distinction between normative and moral accountability is used; thus, normative accountability is applied to the violations that concern the system organisation, while moral accountability to those referring to the social organisation. As the analysis shows, participants do notice the violations of moral order (by using particular words, acts or practices), thus undertaking or ascribing responsibility for them. In particular, they name system/social violations when these have an impact on their relationship, e.g. 'you are constantly interrupting me', 'you are (im)polite' respectively. Furthermore, they use explicit complaints and noticings, when there is a
disruption of social order. In all the above ways, they reveal what constitutes the norm that relates to (im)polite behavior, rendering its examination possible. In that way, the norm emerges from the examination of the sequential organization of talk in interaction, making C.A. a valuable theoretical and methodological tool for a researcher to begin with the investigation of (im)politeness.

Page Updated: 04-Jun-2015