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

Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik

A Quarterly of Language, Literature and Culture

[Journal of English and American Studies]

Ed. by Butter, Michael / Eckstein, Lars / Frenk, Joachim / Georgi-Findlay, Brigitte / Herbst, Thomas / Korte, Barbara / Leypoldt, Günter / Reinfandt, Christoph / Stefanowitsch, Anatol


CiteScore 2017: 0.07

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.123
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.323

Online
ISSN
2196-4726
See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 65, Issue 3

Issues

Non-Canonical Speech Acts in the History of English

Thomas Kohnen
Published Online: 2017-09-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zaa-2017-0030

Abstract

From a pragmatic perspective, speech acts can be seen as non-canonical if they reflect perceptions of politeness and face that differ from an accepted norm. This paper traces the canonical or non-canonical status of boasting and apologising in Anglo-Saxon society. The data suggest that boasting developed from a fairly canonical to a more or less non-canonical speech act, depending on the relative influence that Germanic or Christian values had on Anglo-Saxon society. Apologising, on the other hand, was most likely non-canonical in the Anglo-Saxon warrior society since it appears to be incommensurable to the spirit of Germanic heroes. In the context of spreading Christianity, however, acts of penitence (which are here seen as ‘pre-apologies’) are increasingly advocated as canonical behaviour. Thus, (pre)-apologising (or showing penitence) was on its way from a non-canonical to a canonical status. While the exact development of these two speech acts after Old English has still to be traced in more detail, this article shows that it is the underlying set of ideals and values associated with a society (in this case Germanic self-assertion and retribution and Christian humilitas) that shape the canonical and non-canonical status of expressive speech-acts.

Works Cited

  • Bosworth, Joseph and T. Northcote Toller (1898, 1921). An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://bosworth.ff.cuni.cz/.

  • Bradley, S.A.J. ed. (1982). Anglo-Saxon Poetry. London: J.M. Dent.Google Scholar

  • Campbell, A. (1962). “The Old English Epic Style.” Norman Davis and C.L. Wrenn, eds. English and Medieval Studies Presented to J. R. R. Tolkien on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday. London: Allen & Unwin, 13–26.Google Scholar

  • Deutschmann, Mats (2003). Apologising in British English. Ph.D. dissertation, Umeå University.Google Scholar

  • Dictionary of Old English A-G on CD-ROM. (2008). Dictionary of Old English Project, University of Toronto.Google Scholar

  • Dictionary of Old English Corpus: www.doe.utoronto.ca.

  • Harris, Leslie A. (1988). “Litotes and Superlative in Beowulf.” English Studies 69.1, 1–11.Google Scholar

  • Hollander, Lee M. (1938). “Litotes in Old Norse.” Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 53.1, 1–33.Google Scholar

  • Jucker, Andreas H. and Irma Taavitsainen (2008). “Apologies in the History of English: Routinized and Lexicalized Expressions of Responsibility and Regret.” Andreas H. Jucker and Irma Taavitsainen, eds. Speech Acts in the History of English. 176 vols. Pragmatics & Beyond New Series, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 229–244.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kohnen, Thomas (2000). “Explicit Performatives in Old English: A Corpus-Based Study of Directives.” Journal of Historical Pragmatics 1.2, 301–321.Google Scholar

  • Kohnen, Thomas (2008). “Directives in Old English: Beyond Politeness?” Andreas H. Jucker and Irma Taavitsainen, eds. Speech Acts in the History of English. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 27–44.Google Scholar

  • Kohnen, Thomas (2011). “Understanding Anglo-Saxon ‘Politeness’: Directive Constructions with ic will/ic wolde.” Journal of Historical Pragmatics 12, 230–254.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kohnen, Thomas (2017). “Anglo-Saxon Expressives: Automatic Historical Speech-Act Analysis and Philological Intervention.” The Philologist’s Dilemma. Anglistik. International Journal of English Studies 28.1, 43–56.Google Scholar

  • Leech, Geoffrey (1983). Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman.Google Scholar

  • Mitchell, Bruce. (1995). An Invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

  • Robinson, Fred C. (2001). “Secular Poetry.” Phillip Pulsiano and Elaine Treharne, eds. A Companion to Anglo-Saxon Literature. Oxford: Blackwell, 281–295.Google Scholar

  • Searle, John R. (1976). “A Classification of Illocutionary Acts.” Language in Society 5, 1–24.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Thesaurus of Old English: http://oldenglishthesaurus.arts.gla.ac.uk.

About the article

Published Online: 2017-09-02

Published in Print: 2017-09-26


Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Volume 65, Issue 3, Pages 303–318, ISSN (Online) 2196-4726, ISSN (Print) 0044-2305, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zaa-2017-0030.

Export Citation

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Citing Articles

Here you can find all Crossref-listed publications in which this article is cited. If you would like to receive automatic email messages as soon as this article is cited in other publications, simply activate the “Citation Alert” on the top of this page.

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in