20th Nov 2014 4:30pm-6:00pm
Checkland, B406, Falmer Campus
School of Humanities, College of Arts and Humanities, Research Lecture Series in Linguistics, Language and Discourse
Talk by Dániel Z. Kádár, Professor of English Language and Linguistics, University of Huddersfield.
This study offers a socio-pragmatic examination of instances of what is generally known in social psychology as bystander intervention (e.g. Darley and Latané 1968) where we explore the relationship between (im)politeness and participants’ perceptions of moral values as evidenced by their metacommunicative voicing. In so doing, we address a key knowledge gap in the field.
Intervention is a noteworthy phenomenon to study for the (im)politeness researcher. This is because it is a type of aggressive social action which, on the one hand, challenges conventional behavioural norms and, on the other hand, aims to reinstate what the intervener regards as morally appropriate behaviour. In other words, in intervention, conventional norms which are regarded as ‘social oughts’ (Culpeper 2011), are challenged by ‘moral oughts’ as the intervener butts into an interaction between people who are a) unrelated to her or him, though b) related to each other. Although interventions may take place between two strangers fighting with each other, the examples addressed in this article comprise instances of intervention in someone else’s (presumably) intimate relationship (i.e. friends, boyfriend and girlfriend, family unit) as conventionally understood in the culture where the data come from.
The seeming immorality of the wrongdoer’s action runs contrary to normative behavioural expectations in the public domain, thus leading the intervener to interfere in someone else’s private domain (cf. Brown and Levinson 1987). The wrongdoer appears to be intimately related to the victim while the intervener is a complete stranger. Notwithstanding this, the wrongdoer, the victim and the intervener – as well as other bystanders – share for a fleeting moment the same space. The intervener legitimises her or his action by invoking the morality principle (i.e. ‘moral oughts’) while the wrongdoer delegitimises the intervener’s action by invoking the politeness principle (i.e. ‘social oughts’). The articulation of these principles within the ‘ritual of outspokenness’ (Kádár 2013) provides a lens from which to examine the intersectionality between (im)politeness, morality and metapragmatics.
With this in mind, this study aims to contribute to current research on (im)politeness by offering a yet unexplored dimension: that of the interface between metapragmatics (Lucy 2004), (im)politeness and (im)morality in the interactional arena of outspokenness (Kádár and De La Cruz 2014).