Discursive approaches to analyzing politeness often eschew Brown and Levinson’s theory of politeness as being too dependent on speech act theory and Gricean pragmatics. However, in this analysis of a courtroom interaction I will show how some of the concepts from Brown and Levinson’s theory, such as face-threatening behaviour and positive and negative politeness, can provide us with a vocabulary with which to talk about dynamic situated interaction. These are combined with reference to the norms of behaviour in the context of situation, as well as an appreciation of how meaning is defined as negotiated by participants as they interact. In the interaction under question here I show how the meaning of these utterances can be observed in the data themselves by looking at the sequence and take-up of turns at talk and by commenting on the relationship between the form of the utterances and the context in which they are uttered. In this way, some of the most useful concepts from Brown and Levinson are applied to the data from a constructivist perspective.
©2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston