Edited by Annick Paternoster, Gudrun Held and Dániel Z. Kádár
[Journal of Historical Pragmatics 24:1] 2023
► pp. 143–159
This paper presents a case study which brings together the fields of contrastive pragmatics and historical pragmatics. Specifically, we contrastively investigate the ways in which the speech act set of “farewell” – representing the closing phase of an interaction – was realised in nineteenth-century historical letters in different linguacultures, including the English, German and Chinese ones. We argue that contrastive pragmatics provides a fruitful contribution to historical research for two inter-related reasons. First, contrastive pragmatics allows us to identify similar pragmatic patterns between typologicially “close” linguacultures, such as the English and the German ones. Second, it prompts researchers to attest the validity of such patterns by comparing such typologically close linguacultures with more distant ones such as the Chinese. Our study is based on a corpus of family letters written to elderly relatives.