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Open Access Politeness and formulaicity: Evidence from Cypriot Greek

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Politeness and formulaicity: Evidence from Cypriot Greek

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In Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory, the degree of indirectness of an utterance is presumed to be commensurate with the sum of the variables of Distance, Power and Ranking of an imposition. This claim was tested with reference to a corpus of spontaneous requests from Cypriot Greek. It emerged that, rather than motivating the choice of a ‘generic’ politeness strategy corresponding to a certain degree of indirectness, particular combinations of values of extra-linguistic variables (such as sex, age and social class of interlocutors, relationship between them, setting) tend to co-occur with particular combinations of the values of linguistic variables (type of verb, subjective modality, number/person). It is proposed that the latter combinations constitute formulae accessed during the production/interpretation of polite discourse in a holistic manner alongside perceivable features of the extra-linguistic context.

Affiliations: 1: University of Cambridge


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