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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 17, 2020

Talking to God: conceptualizing an alternative politeness approach for the human/divine relationship

Kim Ridealgh


The human/divine relationship is a dynamic that does not easily fit into existing politeness research frameworks and approaches. This paper will look to explore this relationship further, within the ancient Egyptian Late Ramesside Letters (c. 1099-1069 BCE), in order to explore the limitations of facework and ritual in fully exploring the phenomenon, and offer an alternative approach - the ‘community-embedded’ model - which expands on principles from both facework and ritual, as well as collective prayer. The use here of the ‘community-embedded’ approach allows for the analysis of the impact of utterances to and involving God (the divine entity who assumes this role in the communicative interaction) within wider social networks, and how this supports simultaneous relationship maintenance between humans, God, and larger networks specific to the culture under review.


Many thanks to the editors and peer reviewers for their valuable comments in further improving this paper.


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Received: 2020-06-09
Accepted: 2020-06-12
Published Online: 2020-10-17
Published in Print: 2021-02-26

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