Edited by Annick Paternoster, Gudrun Held and Dániel Z. Kádár
[Journal of Historical Pragmatics 24:1] 2023
► pp. 160–178
Etiquette has only marginally attracted the attention of politeness scholars. This article aims to fill a knowledge gap as it explores the concept in a more systematic way, using nineteenth-century prescriptive metasources from four countries (Britain, France, Italy and the United States). Etiquette is found to form a complicated, all-encompassing body of tendentially amoral, mandatory norms, adapting the minutiae of court protocol to private settings. Since the conventions of etiquette are sequentially structured as scripts with a social gatekeeping function, they can be seen as rituals – that is, schematic, performative interaction that is emotionally invested. Furthermore, given the combination of mandatory behaviour and a concern for rank (precedence), etiquette is seen as a manifestation of Discernment, although etiquette privileges non-verbal aspects of interaction, with less attention for language advice. I consider “etiquette” to be a historically and geographically situated first-order term for the analytical concept of Discernment: emerging in Europe and in North America in the late eighteenth century, it is still in use today.