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Aspects of Spanish Pragmatics

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Domnita Dumitrescu

This collection of essays on Spanish pragmatics can be understood in its broadest sense in Iacob L. Mey’s words as «the study of the conditions of human language use in a societal context.» The essays, which can be read independently from one another, revolve around three key areas within the Anglo-American school of pragmatics: speech acts, conversation, and politeness as sociocultural manifestations of communication.
The first part of the book emphasizes the study of politeness in different Spanish-speaking communities, paying special attention to the realization of polite speech acts and their cross-cultural and cross-linguistic implications, as well as the face-work that interlocutors conduct in casual conversations and other communicative settings. The second part expands the topic of politeness strategies to the study of new contexts (such as echo questions and conversational repairs) and addresses other language phenomena that can be best explored from a pragmalinguistic perspective, such as evidentiality, mitigation, contrastive emphasis, and topicality and discourse salience.
The examples (with the exception of a few literary quotes) proceed from naturally occurring data or were collected through questionnaires, and represent a wide range of colloquial «Spanishes,» from Peninsular to Latin American, from monolingual to bilingual, and from native to heritage to second language learners’ varieties.
The empirical nature of Aspects of Spanish Pragmatics will appeal to a wide range of readers interested in the use of Spanish for real-life communicative interactions, as well as in the topic of intercultural communication and the teaching of authentic language to students of Spanish in the United States.

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Part One: On Politeness and Face Management

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PART ONE On Politeness and Face Management ‘…un état d’equilibre très subtil et très fin pour se protéger sans blesser l’autre’ (“…a very subtle and very fine state of equilibrium allowing one to protect oneself without hurting the other”) ROLAND BARTHES (ON POLITENESS) Más moscas se cogen con miel que con hiel. (“More flies are caught with honey than with gall”) SPANISH PROVERB CHAPTER ONE Polite Speech Acts Across Cultures: An Overview (Entra Doña Balbina, con un traje negro bastante elegante.) (Doña Balbina enters, with a rather elegante black dress.) Manola—Creí que no subía usted. ¡Qué elegante! (Manola—I thought you wouldn’t come up. How elegant!) Doña Balbina—¡Por Dios! Cuatro trapitos. Lo que pasa es que se saben llevar. (Doña Balbina—By God! Four rags. What happens is that one knows how to wear them.) [Se pavonea. Se vuelve hacia la puerta.] ¿Qué haces aquí, Daniela? ¡Entra de una vez! ([She struts. She turns towards the door].) What are you doing here, Daniela? Enter now!) (Entra Daniela. Está preciosa con su traje sastre y su broche de bisutería en la solapa.) (Daniela enters. She is beautiful with her tailored suit and her imitation jeweled broach on the lapel.) Manola—¡Qué reguapísima estás, hija! (Manola—How extremely beautiful you are, daughter!) Daniela—Gracias. (Daniela—Thank you.) A. BUERO VALLEJO, HOY ES FIESTA Introduction According to experts like Colin Gill, from the University of Leeds, British courtesy—‘for...

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