Late Egyptian, Old English and the re-evaluation of Discernment politeness in remote cultures

Ridealgh, Kim ORCID: and Jucker, Andreas (2019) Late Egyptian, Old English and the re-evaluation of Discernment politeness in remote cultures. Journal of Pragmatics, 144. pp. 56-66. ISSN 0378-2166

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The term “Discernment” was originally coined back in the 1980s, where it was first used as an approximate translation of the Japanese term wakimae but later used independently in other contexts and cultures. In this paper, we re-assess its value as an analytical tool for two remote cultures and languages with a severely fragmented and limited textual heritage; Late Egyptian and Old English. In spite of their obvious differences, they have in common that their societies were strictly hierarchically ordered. Power was a fixed factor and not negotiable, and thus social movement was generally not possible. Our argumentation is based on a careful study of the Late Ramesside Letters, a corpus of personal communication written in Late Egyptian (c. 1099‒1069BCE), and on a range of different constructions (directives, terms of address) in Old English. In these contexts, the concept of Discernment turns out to be a very useful analytical tool to describe the relationship dynamics in strictly hierarchical societies. It describes (linguistic) behaviour which is socially and situationally adequate and quasi mandatory, and which closely indexes the social relationship between speaker and addressee, as well as the social and linguistic context within which the exchange takes place. Keywords: Politeness, Discernment, Late Egyptian, Old English, Late Ramesside Letters

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2019 14:06
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 09:51
DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2019.02.012


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