‘Politeness Markers’ Revisited – A Contrastive Pragmatic Perspective

Dániel Z. Kádár (Research Institute for Linguistics, MTA / Dalian University of Foreign Languages)
Juliane House (University of Hamburg / Hellenic American University)


19th May, 2020 14 o'clock
zoom-meeting (details will be announced later)


This paper revisits the concept of ‘politeness marker’, by proposing the bottom–up and corpus-based model of ‘ritual frame indicating expressions’ (RFIEs). Our central argument is that, in certain linguacultures, the relationship between ‘politeness markers’ and politeness itself is significantly stronger than in others. Therefore, any theory which argues that there is a definite relationship between form and politeness – or totally rejects this relationship – is potentially problematic if it does not take a contrastive pragmatic perspective, simply because this relationship is subject to linguacultural variation. Thus, the contrastive pragmatic study of RFIEs helps us to determine the relationship between forms and speech acts and, indirectly, politeness. As a case study, we examine one-word and more complex expressions which are commonly associated with the speech acts of request and apology, drawn from the typologically distant Chinese and English linguacultures.