Chapter published in:Implicitness: From lexis to discourse
Edited by Piotr Cap and Marta Dynel
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 276] 2017
► pp. 177–199
Indirect ritual offence
A study on elusive impoliteness
The present chapter examines the phenomenon of indirect ritual offence, which includes cases of recurrent offences that are indirect and as such make it difficult for the targeted person to respond to them. Manifestations of indirect ritual offence include a series of indirect attacks that recurrently target a person, and cases in which the targeted person is recurrently ostracised. While this behaviour has received significant attention is social psychology, it has not been studied in pragmatics and (im)politeness research, in spite of the fact that it is one of the most widely discussed forms of impoliteness behaviour in public discourses. The examination of this phenomenon also contributes to the pragmatic examination of the difference between indirectness and implicitness; as I point out in this chapter, indirect ritual offence becomes implicit from both academic and lay points of view if the frequency of such attacks decreases but the attacks nevertheless continue. In such cases, the targeted person may reinterpret previous attacks as “harmless” and speculate about the nature of new attacks, and even more importantly the abuser can easily claim that they have not intended to offend the other at all – thus, in such cases indirect ritual offence gains an implicit nature. In order to illustrate this point, I examine ways in which “implicit” as an evaluator tends to be metapragmatically used in accounts on indirect ritual offence.
Keywords: impoliteness and offence, indirectness, implicitness, frequency, metapragmatics
Published online: 30 June 2017
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