Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2213-1272
  • E-ISSN: 2213-1280
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The second largest party in the Italian Parliament, the ‘5-Star Movement’, is led by comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo. Grillo is well-known for a distinctive and often inflammatory rhetoric, which includes the regular use of humorous but insulting epithets for other politicians, such as (‘Psychodwarf’) for Silvio Berlusconi. This paper discusses a selection of epithets used by Grillo on his blog between 2008 and 2015 to refer to Berlusconi and three successive centre-left leaders. We account for the functions of the epithets in terms of Spencer-Oatey’s (2002, 2008) multi-level model of “face” and of Culpeper’s (2011) “entertaining” and “coercive” functions of impoliteness. We suggest that our study has implications for existing models of face and impoliteness and for an understanding of the evolving role of verbal aggression in Italian politics.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Beppe Grillo; face; impoliteness; insults; politics
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