1. What is “politeness”?
  2. Pragmatic politeness
  3. Politeness theories
  4. Working with spoken data and transcription
  5. Culturally influenced perceptions of politeness
  6. Polite vs politic behaviour
  7. Politeness and gender
  8. Impoliteness




  1. To introduce the students to main theoretical approaches to politeness applied in the analysis of authentic interactional data from a range of settings;
  2. To develop the students' critical awareness of the key issues in (im)politeness research;
  3. To enable the students to engage with issues relating to gender, power and culture, as they relate to linguistic (im)politeness;
  4. To enable the students to engage in the analysis of authentic data using the theoretical foundations acquired in the course.




  • Lectures (2 hours a week) will introduce fundamental concepts and theories, including pre-scheduled peer teaching and learning and opportunities for discussion.
  • Tutorials (1 hour every week or fortnight depending on class size) will provide opportunities for students to engage in exercises and discussion.




Assessment for the course is through coursework, tutorial exercises and running group tutorials. This is made up of three assignments:

  1. Tutorial exercises (Weeks 3 and 5) (10%)
  2. Running group tutorials (30%)
  3. 2500-word essay including data analysis – students will choose their own data. The essay will involve close engagement with authentic data, locating relevant literature and communicating the results in a comprehensive and logical manner (60%)​




A number of key texts will be provided on Moodle.

Brown, P. and Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Culpeper, J. (2011). Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Holmes, Janet 1995. Women, Men and Politeness. London: Longman.

Lakoff, R. (1973). The logic of politeness; or, minding your p’s and q’s. Papers from the Ninth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society: 292-305.

Leech, G. (1983). Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman.

Locher, M. and Watts, R. (2005). Politeness theory and relational work. Journal of Politeness Research 1: 9-33.

Spencer-Oatly, H. (2008). Culturally-Speaking: Managing Rapport through Talk across Cultures, 2nd ed. London: Continuum.

Watts, R. (1989). Relevance and relational work: Linguistic politeness as politic Behavior. Multilingua 8.2/3: 131-166.



Last updated: 8 January 2018