Culpeper’s Impoliteness Strategies in Neil Simon’s ‘Biloxi Blues’




Culpeper’s impoliteness strategies, Biloxi Blues, face, dramatic text, face-threatening acts, Neil Simon


Impoliteness has recently been of interest to scholars as a linguistic study in the field of pragmatics. It has emerged as the opposite orientation to politeness strategy, theory and studies. This paper explores how the impoliteness strategies mapped out by Jonathan Culpeper (1996) are employed in dramatic texts. It examines Culpeper’s impoliteness strategies designed to investigate face in the dramatic text. This paper tests the strategies through Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues (1985). This dramatic comedy is used for three reasons: (1) as a drama, it is a mirror of life and real-life speech events; (2) impoliteness strategies provide a resource to analyse impolite interactions between the characters in dialogic discourse; (3) dramatic texts provide a rich context to interpret and analyse verbal and non-verbal impoliteness strategies. Impoliteness strategies can cause disharmony and conflict between characters in a dramatic text. The interactions exchanged by the characters in Biloxi Blues are analysed according to Culpeper’s five impoliteness strategies: bald on record impoliteness, positive impoliteness, negative impoliteness, sarcasm or mock politeness, and withhold politeness. This study employs a descriptive qualitative method to determine how face-threatening acts are incorporated into the play in line with Culpeper’s impoliteness strategies propounded in his article entitled Towards an Anatomy of Impoliteness (1996). The paper also examines how the characters react to face-threatening acts. In the twelve selected dramatic extracts, seventeen cases of positive impoliteness, ten cases of bald on record impoliteness, eight cases of sarcasm or mock politeness, and four cases of negative impoliteness have been observed. Moreover, it has also been observed that the characters use taboo words and abusive and strong language. The bald on record impolite acts are aggravated mainly by abuses, sexual insults and name-calling strategies. Racial slurs have also been identified as a part of positive impoliteness.

Author Biography

Ömer Şekerci, Suleyman Demirel University

Ömer Şekerci (Prof. Dr.) has been working at Suleyman Demirel University, Turkey, since 2000. His main research interests are modern drama studies, linguistics, literary criticism, discourse analysis and literary theory.


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How to Cite

Şekerci, Ömer. (2023). Culpeper’s Impoliteness Strategies in Neil Simon’s ‘Biloxi Blues’. Baltic Journal of English Language, Literature and Culture, 13, 125–141.