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Historical (Im)politeness


Edited By Jonathan Culpeper and Dániel Z. Kádár

This edited collection investigates historical linguistic politeness and impoliteness. Although some research has been undertaken uniting politeness and historical pragmatics, it has been sporadic at best, and often limited to traditional theoretical approaches. This is a strange state of affairs, because politeness plays a central role in the social dynamics of language. This collection, containing contributions from renowned experts, aims to fill this hiatus, bringing together cutting-edge research. Not only does it illuminate the language usage of earlier periods, but by examining the past it places politeness today in context. Such a diachronic perspective also affords a further test-bed for current models of politeness. This volume provides insights into historical aspects of language, particularly items regularly deployed for politeness functions, and the social, particularly interpersonal, contexts with which it interacts. It also sheds light on how (social) meanings are dynamically constructed in situ, and probes various theoretical aspects of politeness. Its papers deploy a range of multilingual (e.g. English, Spanish, Italian and Chinese) diachronic data drawn from different genres such as letters, dramas, witch trials and manners books.


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The Role of Power and Solidarity in Politeness Theory: The Case of Golden Age Spanish 1. Introduction1 Ever since the publication of Brown/Levinson’s seminal work in 1978, manifold theories of linguistic politeness have occupied a cen- tral position in the field of linguistic pragmatics. Within this area of investigation, one topic that has occupied much space in the recent lit- erature is that of forms of address in world languages. The Spanish language alone has served as the inspiration for countless studies on this topic, both synchronic and diachronic (for example, Fontanella de Weinberg 1994; Johnson Primorac 1996; Pedroviejo Esteruelas 2003; Rogers 1924; St. Clair Sloan 1922, etc.). Research on interpersonal address has often been linked to politeness phenomena; some models of linguistic politeness, such as Brown/Levinson (1987, 1978), include overt discussions of the role of address forms within their framework and even assign specific functions or strategies to these linguistic forms. Given the widespread preoccupation regarding claims for uni- versality, as well as the recent movement away from ‘traditional’ models of politeness (see Watts 2003, for instance), the specific func- tion of address forms within politeness theory is a topic worthy of concentrated study. For decades, the interpersonal address model of Brown/Gilman (1960) has served as a fount for many discussions on this topic, par- ticularly studies involving the major languages of Europe. Although 1 The author gratefully acknowledges the support of the Louisiana State Uni- versity Council on Research in the form of grant funding which led to...

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