Understanding Historical (Im)Politeness

Relational linguistic practice over time and across cultures

Marcel Bax | University of Groningen
ORCID logoDániel Z. Kádár | University of Huddersfield
ISBN 9789027202604 | EUR 95.00 | USD 143.00
ISBN 9789027275110 | EUR 95.00 | USD 143.00
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Exploring a largely uncharted territory of cultural history and linguistic ethnography, Understanding Historical (Im)Politeness offers in-depth analyses and perceptive interpretations of the conveyance of social-relational meaning in times (long) past and across historical cultures.

A collection of essays from the pens of authoritative historical (pragma)-linguistics researchers, the volume examines the forms and functions of historical (im)politeness, varying from single utterances and act sequences to fully-fledged (im)polite speech encounters and genres, with a focus on their period- and culture-bound appraisal. What is more, the book sheds light on what is still very dimly seen: diachronic trends in ‘relational work’ and the cultural-societal factors behind patterns of sociopragmatic change.

The volume reviews theoretical concepts, methods and analytical approaches to improve our present-day understanding of the historical understanding of relational practices of the distant as well as the more recent past. Since it includes newly established themes and positions and breaks new ground, this collection furthers considerably the field of historical (im)politeness research.

This volume was originally published as a special issue of Journal of Historical Pragmatics 12:1/2 (2011).

[Benjamins Current Topics, 41] 2012.  vi, 283 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“Politeness research has bloomed recently, not least due to the influx of many non-European oriented studies (compare Sachiko Ide’s or Penny Brown & Steve Levinson’s trailblazing investigations). The crux of the matter is in the nature of (im)politeness, succinctly put in the apparent oxymoron: Politeness is not always polite! The ways (im)politeness has been handled cross-historically can help us understand better why this seemingly universal characteristic of human behavior is so full of mysteries. A superficial, ‘thin’ comparison of politeness behaviors across cultures can give us very few clues; Bax & Kádár’s collection of studies plugs the gap by offering select interpretations of various historic contexts in a ‘thick’ description that takes into account all of the social, cultural and historically relevant aspects of the problem. The collection is a true treasure trove for politeness researchers and linguistic-anthropologically interested readers alike.”
“For once a collection of essays fulfills the promise of its title! Collectively, the essays edited by Bax and Kádár make a major contribution to the understanding of a topic in which both linguists and historians have been showing increasing interest in the last few years. Ranging from prehistory to our own time and from England to China, the contributors go beyond the classic study of politeness by Brown and Levinson in their concern with both cultural variation and cultural change.”
“The edited volume “Understanding Historical (Im)Politeness” is a substantial contribution to the now rapidly growing body of research in the field, exploring the less travelled road of diachronic pragmatic research on (im)politeness. [...] The broad historical range, the various methodological approaches to politeness and impoliteness, the combination of rich historical data and high-level theoretical discussions make this volume appropriate for researchers and advanced students. The book will be of interest to historical linguists, pragmatists, sociolinguists, anthropologists and other professionals interested in the topic of politeness, both as a first-order and second-order term, as well as to those working on impoliteness, ritual insults, and related topics. All this said, “Understanding Historical (Im)Politeness” is certainly a valuable contribution to the field of politeness research and opens new directions for exploration of a vast and fascinating topic.”
Cited by

Cited by 9 other publications

Alfonzetti, Giovanna
2023. A European model of polite conversation?. Journal of Historical Pragmatics 24:1  pp. 105 ff. DOI logo
Brzozowska, Dorota & Władysław Chłopicki
2021. Interventions of Speakers of Polish and British Parliaments in the light of politeness theory. Intercultural Pragmatics 18:1  pp. 83 ff. DOI logo
Culpeper, Jonathan
2017. The influence of Italian manners on politeness in England, 1550–1620. Journal of Historical Pragmatics 18:2  pp. 195 ff. DOI logo
Hernández-Flores, Nieves
2021. Review of Paternoster & Fitzmaurice (2019): Politeness in Nineteenth-Century Europe. Pragmatics and Society 12:2  pp. 334 ff. DOI logo
House, Juliane & Dániel Z. Kádár
2021. Cross-Cultural Pragmatics, DOI logo
Rüdiger, Sofia
2021. Book review: Andreas H. Jucker, Politeness in the History of English – From the Middle Ages to the Present Day. Discourse Studies 23:2  pp. 231 ff. DOI logo
Wiśniewska-Przymusińska, Malwina
2020. T/V Pronouns and FTAs inthe Works of Sir Thomas Malory: Medieval Politeness and Impoliteness in Directives, Expressives, and Commissives. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia 55:1  pp. 139 ff. DOI logo
[no author supplied]
2013. PUBLICATIONS RECEIVED. Language in Society 42:3  pp. 359 ff. DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 9 november 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Main BIC Subject

CFG: Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2012012720 | Marc record