“It is with a trembling hand I beg to intrude this letter”

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This paper investigates the use of politeness in various parts of the pauper letters of the 18th century. While grounded in Brown & Levinson’s framework (1987), the paper argues that the writers had much more discursive leeway in choosing politeness strategies to achieve their communicative goals than Brown & Levinson (1987) predict. This in turn shows that the socio-cultural factors such as power and distance do not work out in the same way in all sub-cultural groups, and that politeness is best viewed as local norms operating in a particular socio-cultural context.


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