Volume 19, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6740
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9935
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In recent years, interest in examining the diverse functions and features of oral narratives told in workplace contexts has grown alongside the body of research investigating the role of language in enacting politeness in the workplace. Yet, to date, there has been little integration of these two strands of inquiry. This paper forges a link between linguistic politeness and some social functions of institutional narratives. Specifically, the micro-analysis of one narrative taken from a corpus of teacher/supervisor feedback sessions demonstrates how the narrator, a novice teacher, negotiates the telling of a complaint narrative to her supervisor along with the politeness demands embedded in the local context of telling. I argue that the speaker’s contradictory evaluation of her situation interacts with linguistic politeness (i.e., the need to mitigate a “face-threatening act”) in the situated telling of this narrative. Finally, in the spirit of recent work on narrative, which calls for increased attention to context in narrative activities, this paper highlights the importance of considering the interrelationships among factors such as face work, recipient design, production circumstances, and institutional roles and relationships among speakers, in the analysis of institutional narratives.


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