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Politeness in the history of English


Jucker, Andreas H (2008). Politeness in the history of English. In: Dury, Richard; Gotti, Maurizio; Dossena, Marina. English Historical Linguistics 2006. Volume II: Lexical and semantic change. Selected papers from the fourteenth International Conference on English Historical Linguistics (ICEHL 14), Bergamo, 21-25 August 2006. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 3-29.

Abstract

Politeness in English has often been seen as a development from a positive politeness culture to a negative politeness culture. Several case studies provide evidence for such a development. A first case study offers an analysis of the use of pronominal terms of address in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and in Shakespeare’s plays. By Shakespeare’s time the pronoun you had increasingly become a marker of deference associated with negative politeness, while thou had become a marker of positive (im)politeness and strong emotions. The development of speech acts such as apologies and directives provide further evidence for an emergent negative politeness culture. However, evidence from Early English correspondence and from the current blurring of the line between private and public life indicates that there are also tendencies towards increased positive politeness, which strongly suggests that these developments are domain and genre specific.

Politeness in English has often been seen as a development from a positive politeness culture to a negative politeness culture. Several case studies provide evidence for such a development. A first case study offers an analysis of the use of pronominal terms of address in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and in Shakespeare’s plays. By Shakespeare’s time the pronoun you had increasingly become a marker of deference associated with negative politeness, while thou had become a marker of positive (im)politeness and strong emotions. The development of speech acts such as apologies and directives provide further evidence for an emergent negative politeness culture. However, evidence from Early English correspondence and from the current blurring of the line between private and public life indicates that there are also tendencies towards increased positive politeness, which strongly suggests that these developments are domain and genre specific.

Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:30 Oct 2008 11:46
Last Modified:08 May 2016 13:07
Publisher:John Benjamins
Series Name:Amsterdam studies in the theory and history of linguistic science. Series 4, Current issues in linguistic theory
ISBN:978-90-272-4811-4
Official URL:http://www.benjamins.com/cgi-bin/t_bookview.cgi?bookid=CILT%20296
Related URLs:http://opac.nebis.ch/F/?local_base=NEBIS&con_lng=GER&func=find-b&find_code=SYS&request=005571546

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