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Interpersonal pragmatics: Issues and debates

Haugh, Michael, Kádár, Daniel Z. and Mills, Sara (2013) Interpersonal pragmatics: Issues and debates. Journal of Pragmatics, 58. pp. 1-11. ISSN 0378-2166

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A pragmatics perspective on interpersonal communication
A pragmatics perspective on interpersonal aspects of communication and interaction has its roots largely in the work of Leech (1983) on “interpersonal rhetoric” and Brown and Levinson, 1978 and Brown and Levinson, 1987 on “politeness”1 The former line of research is often couched nowadays as the broader subfield of “sociopragmatics” following Leech, while the latter constitutes the narrower subfield of “politeness research” following Brown and Levinson. Early work was dominated by a focus on what might be broadly termed “identity-face” given politeness was generally conceptualised as attending to the “presentation and validation of the self” in some form or another following Goffman's ([1955]1967) highly influential account of face(work). However, in the past decade there has been a shift to re-conceptualise politeness within a broader framework of relating or relationships, variously termed “relational work” (Locher and Watts, 2005 and Locher and Watts, 2008), “rapport management” (Spencer-Oatey, 2008, Spencer-Oatey, 2005 and Spencer-Oatey, 2011), or “face constituting” (Arundale, 2006, Arundale, 2010a and Arundale, 2010b). This has, in turn, sparked the coalescing of various lines of research within pragmatics that focuses on such issues into a nascent grouping recently termed “interpersonal pragmatics” by Locher and Graham (2010). Im/politeness research nevertheless still plays a key role in grounding interpersonal pragmatics (cf. LPRG, 2011:2). Indeed, we would argue that “(im)politeness” in a broader technical and scientific (cf. second-order) sense is largely synonymous with the analysis of many interpersonal aspects of communication. However, we would also argue that this move towards putting relationality or relationships to the forefront of interpersonal pragmatics research is nevertheless a very important one for pragmatics more broadly (Enfield, 2009). Thus, a post-Brown and Levinson discursive approach to the analysis of im/politeness is very much concerned with focusing on the way that status within relationships is signalled and marked by interactants, rather than assuming that politeness is simply a question, as Brown and Levinsonian approaches have posited, of indicating concern or respect for others (Kádár and Mills, 2011 and Mills, forthcoming). Im/politeness within this view is one means by which relationships can be negotiated and contested/disrupted

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
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Depositing User: Sara Taylor
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2015 11:41
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2015 11:41


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