Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0929-998X
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9765
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Standard theories of politeness (Lakoff 1975, Leech 1983, Brown and Levinson 1987) face a number of problems. To mention but a few, it can be doubted that these theories have managed to establish truly universal concepts and classifications of (im)polite behavior; they exaggerate the relative importance of indirectness; they do not treat situational and societal constraints sufficiently; finally, they do not deal with rudeness in enough detail.Therefore, it does not seem to be possible to describe rudeness simply as a deviation from or violation of rules and maxims of cooperative/polite communication. Starting from suggestions made by Kasper (1990) and Culpeper (1996), I will try to refine standard definitions of politeness and rudeness. Moreover, examples of rude utterances (mostly taken from spoken and written English and German dialogues) will be used to establish a typology of communicative rudeness. Several subtypes of cooperative (e.g. ritual insults, reactive rudeness, sociable rudeness) and non-cooperative (e.g. strategic rudeness in public institutions) rudeness are distinguished.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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