This paper is based on a corpus of textbook dialogues which were used to teach the basics of English and French in early modern times. I aim to show the relevance of this genre for historical pragmatics. For this purpose, I refer to extra-linguistic aspects such as function, content and target group of these written dialogues which claim to represent spoken language, and I explain why these aspects are likely to indicate a high degree of pragmatic authenticity.
My paper also aims to analyse the verbal interaction represented in the model dialogues. I will focus on sales talk, a discourse type which is a typical element of the phrasebooks and a relevant feature of communication at a time when commercial activities had an increasing social impact. The analysis of the main components reveals that the dialogues are highly standardised but not totally fixed; they offer their users a (restricted) inventory of linguistic devices to negotiate successfully. However, a discourse analytical approach is not sufficient to explain the interaction between buyer and seller. I therefore propose that the pragmatic concept of “face work” is the determining force in the process of bargaining. Furthermore, the analysis of the textbook dialogues illustrates the value of combining very different approaches and levels of analysis.
2006. Politeness at work: Issues and challenges. Journal of Politeness Research. Language, Behaviour, Culture 2:1
Hallett, Richard W.
2017. ‘A taste of this lively language’: attitudes towards languages other than English in lonely planet phrasebooks. Journal of Multicultural Discourses 12:3 ► pp. 222 ff.
House, Juliane, Dániel Z. Kádár, Fengguang Liu, Shiyu Liu, Wenrui Shi, Zongfeng Xia & Lin Jiao
2021. Interaction, speech acts and ritual: An integrative model. Lingua 257 ► pp. 103082 ff.
2006. Historical Pragmatics. In Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics, ► pp. 329 ff.
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