Spyridoula Bella, Eva Ogiermann
June 26, 2019
The present paper provides an intergenerational perspective on Greek conceptualizations of (im)politeness. Based on interviews eliciting narratives of impolite behaviour of our participants’ parents’ generation, the study illustrates the contested and changing nature of politeness in contemporary Greece. Through critically evaluating the older generation’s behaviour, the participants not only provided insights into their own politeness norms but also showed a clear understanding of the previous generation’s politeness norms. The discrepancy between what is perceived as polite by the two generations points to a distinction between empirical (is) and moral (should) norms (Haugh 2010), with the former allowing the participants to classify their parents’ impoliteness as non-intentional and the latter reflecting the emergence of new conceptualizations of politeness in Greece. While Greece has been unanimously characterized as a positive politeness culture in previous research, the present study illustrates an increasing emphasis on values and norms associated with negative politeness.