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Quantifying (im)politeness in directives: a multifactorial analysis of hedges in American English

Abstract : As face-threatening acts, directives can be perceived as impolite if the illocutionary force is not properly mitigated. One efficient mitigating strategy is via hedging. While most studies consider hedges either in isolation or in parallel distribution, l investigate how speakers mitigate directives by combining hedges. My case-study is the construction , of which (1) is a paradigm example: (1) I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave I test two working hypotheses: 1) the full catenative sequence + + + marks iconic distance between the speaker (S) and the FTA ("ask Addressee (A) not to do X"); 2) the more catenative elements are present in the construction, the less constraining and impolite the request, and vice versa. I use the Corpus of Contemporary American English to extract all instances of the construction depicted above containing one or more of the relevant hedges. I conduct a multiple correspondence analysis to detect significant interactions (a) between hedges, (b) between hedges and elements that characterize the FTA. Results show that there is a correlation between the kinds and numbers of hedges that are used and the kinds of speech act that are done, with special regards to their potential for social conflict.
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Contributor : Guillaume Desagulier <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 8:40:18 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - 12:48:01 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00629055, version 1


Guillaume Desagulier. Quantifying (im)politeness in directives: a multifactorial analysis of hedges in American English. Linguistic Impoliteness & Rudeness in Communication and Society, May 2011, Lyon 3, France. ⟨halshs-00629055⟩



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