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Journal of Politeness Research

Language, Behaviour, Culture

Ed. by Grainger, Karen

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Impoliteness Revisited: Evidence from Qingmian Threats in Chinese Interpersonal Conflicts

Yongping Ran
  • Corresponding author
  • Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics Guangdong University of Foreign Studies Guangdong P.R. China
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/ Linsen Zhao
Published Online: 2019-06-26 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2017-0027


There is a growing consensus that (im)politeness is associated with participants’ situated evaluations vis-à-vis the moral order (Haugh 2013a, 2015b; Kádár and Haugh 2013). This paper focuses on impoliteness as evaluative practices underpinned by the moral order of qingmian (lit., affection-based face). Drawing on data from Chinese interpersonal conflicts, the study reveals that unmet renqing (favor) expectations and unmet mianzi/lian (face) expectations are often evaluated as qingmian threats by participants, and thereby cause conflicts and disharmony. Our analysis investigates three key issues: (1) qingmian threat as the cause of interpersonal conflicts, (2) cultural factors influencing expectations associated with ‘taking offence’ in Chinese and (3) the implications of qingmian threat for (im)politeness theory at the etic level.

Keywords: impoliteness; taking offence; qingmian threat; expectations; interpersonal conflicts


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About the article

Yongping Ran

Linsen Zhao is a lecturer at School of English and Education in Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, P.R. China. He received a Ph.D. in pragmatics from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. His research interests include pragmatics, in particular (im)politeness, conflict resolution and mediation discourse.

Linsen Zhao

Yongping Ran is a professor at Centre for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, P.R. China. His research interests include pragmatics, interpersonal pragmatics and (im)politeness, he has publications in Journal of Pragmatics, Intercultural Pragmatics, Pragmatics and Society, and in some top journals of linguistics in Chinese.

Published Online: 2019-06-26

Published in Print: 2019-07-26

Citation Information: Journal of Politeness Research, Volume 15, Issue 2, Pages 257–291, ISSN (Online) 1613-4877, ISSN (Print) 1612-5681, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/pr-2017-0027.

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