According to Leech (1983), some
of non- marginal human phenomena which included in conflictive illocution, one
of them are impoliteness (in particular). In 2003,
Culpeper et al, state that support this conflictive illocution phenomena may be
called as ‘normal circumstances’. They note that conflictive talk can lie in
some discourses, such as army training, courtroom, family situation,
doctor-patient situation, etc.
Directing from Brown and
Levinson’s politeness theory (1987), Culpeper (1996) makes its theory as his
underlying theory for their own work, the impoliteness theory. Another researcher, Lachenicht (1980), has other finding similar to Culpaper’s
theory. Lachenicht (1980: 607) considers the use of ‘aggravating language’ as a
rational attempt to ‘hurt’ or damage the addressee. ‘Hurt’, Lachenicht says
(1980: 607) is achieved by (a) conveying that the addressee is not liked and
does not belong and by (b) interfering with the addressee’s freedom of action.
Culpeper (1996: 349–350) takes a similar view when he suggests that
‘impoliteness’ is defined as the use of utterances or actions that attack one’s
interlocutor and cause disharmony and/or social disruption (rather than
promoting or maintaining social harmony, which is the purpose of politeness of
course). Culpeper (1996: 349–350) views impoliteness as attacking the
addressee’s face wants (positive or negative). We can see the similarity
between the two approaches when we consider, again, how Lachenicht (1980: 607)
considers ‘hurt’ to be achieved: by (a) conveying that the addressee is not
liked and does not belong (positive aggravation) and by (b) interfering with
the addressee’s freedom of action (negative aggravation). The apparent
similarity of the two models’ approach to such verbally aggressive behaviour
begins to diverge when we consider the respective ‘architectures’ the models
The aggravation strategies that can be selected are,
in order of degree of threat, as follows:
Off record: ambiguous insults,
insinuations, hints, and irony. This strategy is of much the same kind as the
politeness strategy, and is designed to enable the insulter to meet an
aggrieved challenge from the injured person with an assertion of innocence.
Bald on Record: directly produced
FTAs and impositions (‘Shut that door’, ‘Do your work’, ‘Don’t talk’, etc.) of
the same kind as in the politeness strategy.
Positive aggravation: an
aggravation strategy that is designed to show the addressee that he is not
approved of, is not esteemed, does not belong, and will no receive cooperation.
Negative aggravation: An
aggravation strategy that is designed to impose on the addressee, to interfere
with his freedom of action, and to attack his social position and the basis of
his social action. (Lachenicht 1980: 619)
Note that the first two strategies are not in fact part of a new
impoliteness framework, but are taken from Brown and Levinson’s (1987)
politeness framework. Positive aggravation and negative aggravation appear to
be distinguished in terms of their orientation to positive and negative face
wants (cf. Brown and Levinson 1987).
Similarly, as one can see, Lachenicht (1980) neglects to consider silence
or ‘opting out’ (Grice 1975) as a potential strategy to aggravate or ‘hurt’
one’s interlocutor. Thomas quite rightly points out (1995: 175) that silence,
where there is an expectation that something should be said, could be a ‘ …
massive FTA.’ Furthermore, Lachenicht (1980: 619) considers that off record
strategies will, typically, be used against powerful addressees, positive
aggravation against friends and intimates and negative aggravation against
those more socially distant. He is, in effect, attempting to unproblematically
apply politeness variables to aggravation strategies. Unfortunately, as I will
show, this is not as simple as he foresees, and the lack of any testing on this
score is a weakness for Lachenicht (1980).
Culpeper (1996) explores the possibility of a parallel structure to Brown and
Levinson (1987). Impoliteness superstrategies for Culpeper are ‘opposite’ in terms
of orientation to face (i.e. instead of maintaining or enhancing face, they are
designed to attack face), but not necessarily opposite in other pragmatic ways (e.g.
from a Gricean point of view, the opposite of on record is off-record).
The five superstrategies from Culpeper (1996) are summarised, and compared
to Lachenicht’s position here:
1. Bald on record
impoliteness. This is distinct from how both
Brown and Levinson (1987), and Lachenicht (1980), envisage ‘Bald on Record’.
Lachenicht (1980) suggests that utterances in Brown and Levinson’s (1978
1987) bald on record superstrategy can be either polite or aggravating.
However, Culpeper (1996: 356) suggests that bald on record impoliteness is somewhat distinct from Brown and Levinson’s
(1978, 1987) own bald on record strategy. Culpeper suggests it is deployed
for polite purposes in fairly specific
circumstances: for example, where there is little face at stake, where there is
an emergency situation, and where there is no intention of damaging the face of the hearer. In contrast, utterances
within Culpeper’s (1996) bald on record impoliteness superstrategy are typically deployed where there is much face at stake, and where there is an intention on th part of the speaker to attack
the face of the hearer.
2. Positive impoliteness. Culpeper (1996) suggests that this superstrategy exists for the use of
strategies designed to damage the addressee’s positive face wants. When we
compare this to Lachenicht’s (1980) view of Positive Aggravation, being, namely
that which wilfully and intentionally conveys to the addressee that he or she
is not liked, will not be co-operated with and/or does not belong, then we can
see the similarity across the two approaches. The strategies each researcher suggests
are compared in Table 3, below.
3. Negative impoliteness. The use of strategies designed to damage the addressee’s negative face
wants. When we compare this to Lachenicht’s (1980) view of Negative Aggravation,
being, namely, that which wilfully and intentionally impedes or interferes with
the addressee’s own freedom of action, then, again, we can see the similarity
of the two models.