Volume 14, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper investigates advice offered on closure signs displayed on businesses in Greece and the UK during the first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic. By scrutinising signs photographed in London and in Athens, as well as speeches delivered by the British and Greek prime ministers at the time of the closures, our analysis shows how business owners pass on government instructions to their customers. The study thus makes an original contribution to research on the effectiveness of risk communication, revealing that while businesses in both countries supported the implementation of containment measures, the Greek signs replicated governmental messages more closely. At the same time, the analysis of advice offered by business owners to their customers in an unprecedented context of a global health crisis provides new insights into research on this speech act.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Austin, John L.
    1962How to Do Things with Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Bach, Kent, and Robert M. Harnish
    1979Linguistic Communication and Speech Acts. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Bardovi-Harlig, Kathleen, and Beverly S. Hartford
    1990 “Congruence in native and nonnative conversations: Status balance in the academic advising session.” Language Learning40(4): 467–501. 10.1111/j.1467‑1770.1990.tb00603.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1990.tb00603.x [Google Scholar]
  4. Barker, Kathryn, Emilia Ling, Mosoka Fallah, Brian VanDeBogert, Yvonne Kodl, Rose Jallah Macauley, K. Viswanath, and Margaret Kruk
    2020 “Community engagement for health system resilience: evidence from Liberia’s Ebola Epidemic.” Health Policy and Planning351: 416–423. 10.1093/heapol/czz174
    https://doi.org/10.1093/heapol/czz174 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bella, Spyridoula, and Eva Ogiermann
    2022 “Accounts as acts of identity. Justifying business closures on Covid-19 public signs in Athens and London.” Pragmatics. 10.1075/prag.21033.bel
    https://doi.org/10.1075/prag.21033.bel [Google Scholar]
  6. Blommaert, Jan
    2013Ethnography, Superdiversity and Linguistic Landscapes: Chronicles of Complexity. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 10.21832/9781783090419
    https://doi.org/10.21832/9781783090419 [Google Scholar]
  7. Blum-Kulka, Shoshana, Juliane House, and Gabriele Kasper
    1989 “Appendix. The CCSARP Coding Manual.” InCross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologiesed. byShoshana Blum-Kulka, Juliane House, and Gabriele Kasper, 273–294. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Brown, Penelope, and Stephen C. Levinson
    1987Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511813085
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511813085 [Google Scholar]
  9. DeCapua, Andrea, and Lisa Huber
    1995 “’If I Were You …’: Advice in American English.” Multilingua141: 117–132. 10.1515/mult.1995.14.2.117
    https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.1995.14.2.117 [Google Scholar]
  10. Drew, Paul, and Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen
    (eds) 2014Requesting in Social Interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/slsi.26
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slsi.26 [Google Scholar]
  11. Haverkate, Henk
    1984Speech acts, Speakers and Hearers. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pb.v.4
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pb.v.4 [Google Scholar]
  12. Jang, Kyungeun, and Namkee Park
    2018 “The effects of repetitive information communication through multiple channels on prevention behavior during the 2015 MERS outbreak in South Korea.” Journal of Health Communication23(7): 670–678. 10.1080/10810730.2018.1501440
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730.2018.1501440 [Google Scholar]
  13. Locher, Miriam A.
    2006Advice online. Advice-giving in an American Internet Health Column. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.149
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.149 [Google Scholar]
  14. Locher, Miriam A., and Sebastian Hoffmann
    2006 “The emergence of the identity of a fictional expert advice-giver in an American Internet advice column.” Text and Talk26(1): 69–106. 10.1515/TEXT.2006.004
    https://doi.org/10.1515/TEXT.2006.004 [Google Scholar]
  15. MacGeorge, Erina L., and Lyn M. van Swol
    2018 “Advice across Disciplines and Contexts.” InThe Oxford Handbook of Advice, ed. byErina L. MacGeorge, and Lyn M. Van Swol. 3–17. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190630188.013.1
    https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190630188.013.1 [Google Scholar]
  16. Martínez Flor, Alicia
    2005 “A theoretical review of the speech act of suggesting: Towards a taxonomy for its use in FLT.” Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses181: 167–187. 10.14198/raei.2005.18.08
    https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2005.18.08 [Google Scholar]
  17. Ogiermann, Eva
    2009 “Politeness and in-directness across cultures: A comparison of English, German, Polish and Russian requests.” Journal of Politeness Research5(2): 189–216. 10.1515/JPLR.2009.011
    https://doi.org/10.1515/JPLR.2009.011 [Google Scholar]
  18. 2015 “In/directness in Polish children’s requests at the dinner table.” Journal of Pragmatics821: 67–82. 10.1016/j.pragma.2015.03.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2015.03.007 [Google Scholar]
  19. Ogiermann, Eva, and Spyridoula Bella
    2021 “On the dual role of expressive speech acts: Relational work on signs announcing closures during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Journal of Pragmatics1841: 1–17. 10.1016/j.pragma.2021.07.020
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2021.07.020 [Google Scholar]
  20. Rieger, Marc Oliver, and Yanping He-Ulbricht
    2020 “German and Chinese dataset on attitudes regarding COVID-19 policies, perception of the crisis, and belief in conspiracy theories.” Data in Brief331: 106384. 10.1016/j.dib.2020.106384
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dib.2020.106384 [Google Scholar]
  21. Rogers, Wendy, Street, Jackie. M., Braunack-Mayer, Annette. Janet, Hiller, and Flu Views Team
    2009 “Pandemic influenza communication: views from a deliberative forum.” Health Expectations. 12(3): 331–342. 10.1111/j.1369‑7625.2009.00562.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1369-7625.2009.00562.x [Google Scholar]
  22. Rossi, Giovanni
    2012 “Bilateral and unilateral requests: The use of imperatives and mi X? interrogatives in Italian.” Discourse Processes49(5): 426–458. 10.1080/0163853X.2012.684136
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853X.2012.684136 [Google Scholar]
  23. Scollon, Ron
    2008 “Discourse itineraries: Nine processes of resemiotization.” InAdvances in Discourse Studiesed. byVijay Bhatia, John Flowerdew, and Rodney Jones, 233–244. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Scollon, Ron, and Suzie Wong Scollon
    2003Discourses in Place: Language in the Material World. London: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203422724
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203422724 [Google Scholar]
  25. Searle, John R.
    1969Speech acts. An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139173438
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173438 [Google Scholar]
  26. 1976 “A classification of illocutionary acts.” Language in Society5(1): 1–23. 10.1017/S0047404500006837
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500006837 [Google Scholar]
  27. Shaw, Chloe and Hepburn, Alexa
    2013 “Managing the moral implications of advice in informal interactions.” Research on Language and Social Interaction461, 344–362. 10.1080/08351813.2013.839095
    https://doi.org/10.1080/08351813.2013.839095 [Google Scholar]
  28. Svennevig, Jan
    2021 “How to do things with signs. The formulation of directives on signs in public spaces.” Journal of Pragmatics1751: 165–183. 10.1016/j.pragma.2021.01.016
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2021.01.016 [Google Scholar]
  29. Van den Broek-Altenburg, Eline, and Adam Atherly
    2021 “Adherence to COVID-19 policy measures: Behavioral insights from The Netherlands and Belgium.” PloS one. 16(5): e0250302. 10.1371/journal.pone.0250302
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0250302 [Google Scholar]
  30. Weigand, Edda
    2010Dialogue the Mixed Game. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/ds.10
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ds.10 [Google Scholar]
  31. WHO
    WHO 2017Communicating risk in public health emergencies: a WHO guideline for emergency risk communication (ERC) policy and practice. Geneva: World Health Organization. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Boris Johnson
  33. Kyriakos Mitsotakis

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): advice; closure signs; Covid-19 pandemic; Greece; risk communication; UK
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error