Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
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Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) is a weekly, half-hour long session in the British House of Commons, which gives backbench Members of Parliament (MPs) and the Leader of the Opposition (LO) the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister (PM) questions on any topic relating to the government’s policies and actions. The discourse at PMQs is often described as adversarial (see Bull & Wells 2011) and in this paper I will show how the notion of impoliteness can be applied to both the questions and the answers which make up the session. Through the detailed analysis of six sessions of PMQs I will also demonstrate that PMQs is also a source of polite linguistic behaviour of the sort described in Brown & Levinson’s (1987) politeness theory. Comparisons between Gordon Brown’s and David Cameron’s speech styles will also be drawn.


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