Impoliteness in Literary Discourse: A Pragmatic Study

Hiba Nassrullah Mohammed, Nawal Fadhil Abbas


Brown and Levinson's model of politeness (1987) paved the way for linguists to explore the phenomenon of impoliteness. Meanwhile, Brown and Levinson dealt with politeness as a knotty framework applied to soften face threatening acts, other linguists including, Culpeper, Bousfield and Eelen, headed for the opposite direction of politeness. In other words, they studied the communicative situations where the speaker's purpose is to damage a hearer's face rather than softening face threatening acts. This research paper is intended to examine the opposite direction of politeness ‘impoliteness phenomenon’ in George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (1913). Furthermore, it highlights the variation of impoliteness strategies used by characters. It is worth mentioning that the present paper is qualitative as it is dedicated to describe a certain pragmatic phenomenon, i.e., impoliteness, depending on Culpeper’s (2005) model of impoliteness, as a theoretical framework, to identify impoliteness in an advisedly chosen literary text. Consequently it is hoped to provide a deeper understanding of the fictional characters by applying a pragmatic analysis through which the characters' conversation will be examined thoroughly.


Pragmatics, politeness, impoliteness, Pygmalion

Full Text:



Akmajian, A., Demers, R. A., Farmers, A. K., & Harnish, R. M (2001). Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication. Hong Kong, HK: Massachusetts Institution of Technology.

Barron, A. (2003). Acquisition in Interlanguage Pragmatics. Amsterdam, AMS: John Benjaimins B. V.

Bousfield, D. (2008). Impoliteness in Interaction. Amsterdam, AMS: John Benjaimins B. V.

Bousfield, D. & Locher, M. (Eds.). (2008). Impoliteness in Language: Studies on its Interplay with Power in theory and Practice. Berlin, BL: Mouton De Gruyter.

Burt, D. S. (2009). The Literary 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Novelists, Playwrights, and Poets of All Time. New York, NY: An Imprint of Infobase Publishing.

Cherry, C. (Ed.). (1974). Pragmatic Aspects of Human Communication. Boston, MA: D. Reidel Publishing Company.

Culpeper, J. (2001). Language and Characterisation: People in Plays and Other Texts. New York, NY: Pearson Education Limited

Culpeper, J. (2011). Impoliteness: Using Language to cause Offence. Cambridge, CBG: Cambridge University Press.

Davies, B. L., Haugh, M., & Merrison, A. J. (Eds.). (2011). Situat Politeness. London, LDN: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Huang, Y. (2012). The Oxford Dictionary of Pragmatics. Oxford, OXF: Oxford University Press.

Huang, Y. (2014). Pragmatics. (2 ed.). Oxford, OXF: Oxford University Press.

Johanson, R. (1994). Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations: A Dramatization. Woodstock: The Dramatic Publishing Company.

Lambrou, M. & Stockwell, P. (Eds.). (2007). Contemporary Stylistics. London, LDN: Continuum Publishing Group.

Laurence, D. H. (Ed.). ( 1957). Pygmalion. London, LDN: Penguin Books.

Leech, G. (2014). The Pragmatics of Politeness. Oxford, OXF: Oxford University Press.

Morley, J. & Bayley, P. (Eds.). (2009). Corpus–Assisted Discourse Studies on the Iraq Conflict: Wondering the War. New York, NY: Routledge.

Mullany, L. & Stockwell, P. (2010). Introducing English Language: A Resource Book for Students. Nottingham, NTT: Routledge.

Ruhi, Ş. & Aksan, Y. (Eds.). (2015). Exploring (Im)politeness in Specialized and General Corpora: Converging Methodologies and Analytic Procedures. Newcastle, NEWC: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Sanchez, M. T. (2009). The Problems of Literary Translation: A Study of the Theory and Practice of Translation from English to Spanish. Bern: Peter Lang.

Thielemann, N. & Kosta, P. (Eds.). (2013). Approaches to Slavic Interaction. Amsterdam, AMS: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Walaszewska, E. & Piskorska, A. (Eds.). (2012). Relevance Theory: More than Understanding. Newcastle, NEWC: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Watts, R., Ide, S. & Ehlich, K. (Eds.). (2005). Politeness in Language:Studies in its History, Theory, and Practice. (2 ed.). Berlin, BL: Walter de Gruyter.

Weiczorek, A. E. (2013). Clusivity: A New Approach to Association and Dissociation in Political Discourse. Newcastle, NEWC: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.