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Journal of Politeness Research

Language, Behaviour, Culture

Ed. by Grainger, Karen

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.652
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.667

CiteScore 2018: 1.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.785
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.150

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Relevance theory and politeness

Christine Christie
Published Online: 2007-07-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2007.012


The aim of this paper is to open up for debate the question of whether Sperber and Wilson's (1995 [1986]) relevance theory can usefully inform politeness research. It is therefore designed to indicate some of the methodological implications for the study of politeness that would arise from an adoption of a relevance-theoretical framework. I begin by outlining some arguments posited by politeness theorists who have applied relevance theory and then provide a brief account of some of the key differences between the Gricean framework that informs Brown and Levinson's (1987 [1978]) theory of politeness and the account of utterance interpretation offered by relevance theory. I conclude by suggesting some of the differences in focus that would result from the analysis of politeness from a relevance-theoretical perspective.

Keywords: Inferential communication; utterance interpretation; pragmatics; cognition; social context

About the article

Christine Christie

Christine Christie lectures on linguistics at Loughborough University. Her research interests include pragmatics, miscommunication, politeness and gender. Her publications include Politeness: Theories and Applications (Edinburgh University Press forthcoming) and Gender and Language: Towards a Feminist Pragmatics (Edinburgh University Press).

Published Online: 2007-07-31

Published in Print: 2007-07-20

Citation Information: Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture, Volume 3, Issue 2, Pages 269–294, ISSN (Online) 1613-4877, ISSN (Print) 1612-5681, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/PR.2007.012.

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