Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Journal of Politeness Research

Language, Behaviour, Culture

Ed. by Grainger, Karen

IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 1.000
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 1.365

CiteScore 2017: 1.65

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.585
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.848

See all formats and pricing
More options …

Courtroom data and politeness research: A case for neo-Peircean semiotics in interpersonal pragmatics

Jack Wilson
  • Corresponding author
  • University of Salford, Department of English and Creative Writing, School of Arts and Media, Salford, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Hazel Price
  • University of Huddersfield, Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, School of Music, Humanities and Media, Huddersfield, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-01-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2017-0056


In this article we take a neo-Peircean semiotic approach to analyzing an interaction in which a routine bail hearing between a defendant and a judge goes awry. Neo-Peircean semiotics is steadily gaining recognition within linguistics for providing a new perspective on meaning. One neo-Peircean approach, referred to as Relationship Thinking (Enfield 2009, 2013), has the potential to be influential for politeness research and linguistic pragmatics generally. In this article, we explore how the concept of relationship can be used to explore meaning on two dimensions: residential and representational (Kockelman 2006a, 2006b). It is our contention that both of these dimensions are crucial to developing an understanding of what happens in the courtroom data on which this special issue focusses. We begin by providing a detailed overview of neo-Peircean semiotics in order to demonstrate its utility for researchers from different disciplines. We then show how a neo-Peircean analytical approach can illuminate elements of data that may not be accounted for in other analyses. This is as a consequence of the neo-Peircean framework’s scope and its capacity for coping with a range of interactionally significant phenomena, from individual linguistic tokens to institutional norms. In our analysis of the data at the heart of this special issue, the Penelope Soto case, we show that problems can arise when interactants have different understandings of what is a sign and what is an interpretant (Peirce 1955). We make the case that it is a misunderstanding at this level (specifically the interpretations of the word “value”) that is ultimately what causes the interaction to conclude in the way that it does. Ultimately, we suggest that a neo-Peircean approach to the study of in/appropriate behaviour can facilitate links between the traditional (and sometimes disparate) methods of analysis used in politeness research.

Keywords: Agency; In/appropriateness; Indexicality; Intentionality; neo-Peircean semiotics

About the article

Published Online: 2018-01-24

Published in Print: 2018-02-23

Citation Information: Journal of Politeness Research, Volume 14, Issue 1, Pages 63–95, ISSN (Online) 1613-4877, ISSN (Print) 1612-5681, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2017-0056.

Export Citation

©2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in