Volume 28, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


Due to their largely non-routinized forms and their not being retrievable in computerised corpus searches, refusals have hitherto not been examined from a diachronic perspective. The present paper presents an inventory of refusal strategies in Early Modern English drama texts. Five comedies from two periods (1560–1599 and 1720–1760), respectively, taken from the ( Kytö and Culpeper 2006 ) were examined manually and analysed qualitatively and quantitatively. The analysis lead to an alternative classification of refusals which differs considerably from the frequently used taxonomy by Beebe, Takahashi, and Uliss-Weltz (1990) . The proposed classification takes into account three levels of analysis: the propositional content of the utterance, the functional super-strategy, and the speaker’s stance. The development of refusal within the period under investigation partially matches findings regarding related speech acts that show a development towards increased indirectness ( Culpeper and Demmen 2011 , Pakkala-Weckström 2008 , Del Lungo Camiciotti 2008 ).


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): drama; Early Modern English; historical linguistics; refusals; speech acts; stance
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