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An evolutionary take on (im)politeness

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Abstract

This paper is intended as an overall template of the evolution of (im)politeness. It elucidates how (linguistic) rapport management originated and developed over time, and tries to come to grips with (some of) the sociocultural factors behind such changes. Taking its point of departure in human prehistory (Section&#8239;1), the paper argues that, contrary to received wisdom, politeness and impoliteness are not two sides of the same coin (Section&#8239;2), and it discusses the dissimilar evolutionary antecedents of politeness and impoliteness (Sections 3 and 4). The paper then maps out three broad-scale diachronic trends regarding the conveyance of interpersonal distance, <i>ipso facto</i> the marking out of socio-proxemic interactional space; namely, (a) from performative to verbal, (b) from self-display to other-concern and (c) from collectivity-oriented to individual-oriented (Section&#8239;5).

References

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