Chapter published in:Manners, Norms and Transgressions in the History of English: Literary and linguistic approaches
Edited by Andreas H. Jucker and Irma Taavitsainen
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 312] 2020
► pp. 248–269
“Collect a thousand loyalty points and you get a free coffin”
Creative impoliteness in the TV comedy drama Doc Martin
The British comedy drama Doc Martin is set in the fictional fishing village of Portwenn in Cornwall, where the community’s only medical practitioner, Dr Martin Ellingham, is known to be brilliant as regards the clinical aspects of his profession but totally devoid of even the most basic interpersonal skills. He is habitually gruff, ill-tempered and extremely rude to patients, and indeed to the entire population of Portwenn.This paper draws upon Brown and Levinson’s (1987) pioneering study of face-threatening acts and politeness, but also Spencer-Oatey’s more recent work (2007, 2008) on quality face, social identity face and relational face. The concept of creative impoliteness owes much to Culpeper’s view (1996, 2005, 2011) of impoliteness as a phenomenon related to situated behaviours that conflict with interlocutors’ expectations, wishes and notions of what ought to be said or done during interaction. The aim is to demonstrate how Dr Ellingham’s rudeness does not consist of unoriginal insults or standard terms of offence – if it did, viewers would quickly switch off – but involves highly creative use of language and thus serves as the main source of humour in the TV series. In Doc Martin imaginative script writers and a skilled actor create a character who in real life would be insupportable, but on the TV screen is a comic monster.
Keywords: entertaining impoliteness, implicational impoliteness, asymmetrical power relationships, intentionality, quality face, social identity face, relational face, conversational implicature
Published online: 11 August 2020
Brown, Penelope, and Stephen C. Levinson
Byrne, Patrick S., and Barrie E. L. Long
Harvey, Kevin, and Nelya Koteyko
Spencer-Oatey, Helen D. M.