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Lodz Papers in Pragmatics

Founded by Cap, Piotr

Editor-in-Chief: Chilton, Paul / Kopytowska, Monika

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Open Access

Impoliteness Strategies in ‘House M.D.’

Argyro Kantara1

Greece1

This content is open access.
(CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Citation Information: Lodz Papers in Pragmatics. Volume 6, Issue 2, Pages 305–339, ISSN (Online) 1898-4436, ISSN (Print) 1895-6106, DOI: 10.2478/v10016-010-0015-9, February 2011

Publication History:
Published Online:
2011-02-03

Impoliteness Strategies in ‘House M.D.’

The research to be presented focuses on the impoliteness strategies used by the main character in the TV series "House, M.D." and the responses to them, as well as the potential reason(s)/intention(s) behind impoliteness use as indicated by (Culpeper 1996) and (Culpeper, Bousfield and Wichman 2003). The data comprised transcripts from Season 1, episodes 1-20, broadcast on Fox TV in 2004-2005, taken from http://twiztv.com/scripts/house. This paper argues that, following Leech's (1993) conception of irony, which is the same as Culpeper's conception of sarcasm, the latter being a pervasive feature of Dr House's conversational style, he does not overtly conflict the Politeness Principle but, according to Partington (2007), tries to be interesting, memorable and show alignment with the hearer. Thus he seems to try to preserve, in a way, social harmony by not causing great damage to his interlocutor's face but allowing him/her to arrive at the offensive point of his remark via an implicature. Furthermore, in the context of the hospital setting, although he has the legitimate power and the expert power, in Spencer-Oatey's (2000) terms, to be direct he opts for indirectness. Regarding intentions, his use of impoliteness towards his trainees might be compared to army training (Culpeper 1996), while his being impolite with his patients to the American adversarial legal system (Lakoff 1989). Lastly, the responses of Dr House's interlocutors, mainly his trainees, which gradually escalated in impoliteness, are in line with the consequences of workplace incivility (Anderson and Pearson 1999).

Keywords: Impoliteness strategies; positive impoliteness; negative impoliteness; sarcasm/irony; intention; power relations; workplace incivility

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