Sociopragmatic variation in Britain : A corpus-based study of politeness

van Dorst, I. and Gillings, M. and Culpeper, J. (2024) Sociopragmatic variation in Britain : A corpus-based study of politeness. Journal of Pragmatics, 227. pp. 37-56. ISSN 0378-2166

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British culture is said to be characterised by off-record or negative politeness and norms giving prominence to social distance. However, this assumes that politeness works in the same way across all British speakers and contexts. Work constituting variational pragmatics – a field at the interface of pragmatics and dialectology – has shown this to be an over-simplification. Using data from the Spoken British National Corpus 2014, this paper explores politeness variation across gender, age, region, population density, social class, highest educational qualification, and setting. We selected 50 key British conventionalised politeness formulae, each allotted to one of three different types of politeness (tentativeness, deference or solidarity), and differing levels of formality. Instances of these 50 formulae were retrieved from a subset based on setting (private; public; institutional), and then manually screened to remove non-genuine cases of politeness (e.g., sarcasm). We applied a mixed-effects multinominal logistic regression model to analyse the effect of each social variable on the use of politeness formulae. Clear differences across politeness types and levels of formality emerged, particularly with regard to differences between genders, population density (i.e., metropolitan vs. urban), and setting. We offer a series of explanations for each finding.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Pragmatics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? artificial intelligencelinguistics and languagelanguage and linguistics ??
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Deposited On:
30 May 2024 08:55
Last Modified:
31 May 2024 02:30