Beyond the micro-level in politeness research

Marina Terkourafi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Politeness research to date has generally adopted one of two views: the "traditional" view based on the dual premises of Grice's Co-operative Principle and speech act theory (Lakoff 1973, Brown and Levinson 1987 [1978], Leech 1983), or the "post-modern" view, which rejects these premises and substitutes them by an emphasis on participants' own perceptions of politeness (politeness1) and on the discursive struggle over politeness (Eelen 2001, Mills 2003, Watts 2003). Contrasting these two views, this article considers not only their points of disagreement, but, crucially, points where the two views coincide, bringing to light their common underlying assumptions. It then goes on to show how, departing from these common assumptions, a third direction for politeness studies, the "frame-based" view, is possible. Following an outline of the frame-based view, it is suggested that this fits in with the traditional and the post-modern views in a three-layered schema addressing politeness phenomena at different levels of granularity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-262
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Politeness Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2005


  • Frames
  • Generalized implicatures
  • Norms
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Societal rationality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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