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«“Oh, that is just such crap, you cowardly, dysfunctional little schmuck!” - Impoliteness in the dialogues of H. Fielding’s novels Bridget ...»

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University of Jyväskylä

“Oh, that is just such crap, you cowardly, dysfunctional little schmuck!”

- Impoliteness in the dialogues of H. Fielding’s novels

Bridget Jones’s Diary and

Bridget Jones – The Edge of Reason

A Pro Gradu Thesis in English

by

Suvi Välikangas

Department of languages

Humanistinen Tiedekunta

Kielten laitos

Suvi Välikangas

”Oh, that is just such crap, you cowardly dysfunctional little schmuck!”

- Impoliteness in the dialogues of H. Fielding’s novels Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones – the Edge of Reason Pro Gradu - tutkielma Englannin kieli Elokuu 2005 76 sivua Tässä Pro Gradu työssä tutkittiin epäkohteliaisuutta Helen Fieldingin romaaneissa Bridget Jones’s Diary ja Bridget Jones – the Edge of Reason sekä erityisesti niiden dialogeissa. Analysoinnissa käytettiin Culpeperin (1996) epäkohteliaisuusteoriaa, joka perustuu Brownin ja Levinsonin (1978/1987) kohteliaisuusteoriaan. Fieldingin novellit kuuluvat populaarifiktioon ja dialogit ovat olennainen osa tämänkaltaisia romanttisia romaaneja. Vaikka dialogit imitoivat todellista puhetta, niiden päätarkoitus on kuitenkin edistää tarinan juonta. Nashin (1990) mukaan dialogit voidaan jakaa kolmeen luokkaan, jotka ovat välienselvittely- (confrontational dialogue), yhteistyö- (collaborative dialogue) ja opettavat dialogit (instructional dialogue). Tämän tutkimuksen kohteena ovat pelkästään välienselvittelydialogit, koska välienselvittelyihin yleensä kuuluu epäkohtelias käyttäytyminen. Välienselvittelydialogeiksi Nash listaa riidat, väittelyt ja jopa haastattelut, jos henkilöt eivät pidä toisistaan.

Epäkohteliaisuus on erottuvampaa kuin kohteliaisuus, koska se on tahallista, usein sanallista hyökkäämistä toista kohtaan ja se on myös hyväksyttyjen käytöstapojen rikkomista. Aineistona tutkimuksessa on käytetty 73 välienselvittelydialogia, joista etsittiin eri strategioita. Tutkimuksen tuloksena voidaan todeta, että aineistosta löytyi eniten positiivisia epäkohteliaisuusstrategioita ja vähiten kohteliaisuudesta pidättäytymistä.

Useissa tapauksissa yhdestä dialogista löytyi monia eri strategioita, jotka voimistivat epäkohteliaisuutta. Epäkohteliaisuuden tulkinnassa vaikuttivat dialogin lisäksi sitä ympäröivä kerronta, joka tarjosi tietoa kertojan reaktioista epäkohteliaisuuteen ja taustatietoja esimerkiksi henkilöiden suhteista.

Analyysissä otettiin myös huomioon miten henkilöt reagoivat epäkohteliaisuuteen. Henkilöt joko puolustautuvat, tekivät vastahyökkäyksen tai jättivät epäkohteliaisuuden huomiotta. Romaanien dialogit olivat usein humoristisia ja epäkohteliaisuuden käyttäminen oli oleellinen osa sen luomisessa. Epäkohtelias kielenkäyttö oli ominaisempaa joillekin hahmoille, esimerkiksi kirosanojen käyttö, kun taas toiset hahmot eivät käyttäneet epäkohteliasta kieltä tai epäkohteliaisuusstrategioita ollenkaan.

Asiasanat: Impoliteness, literary dialogue, confrontational dialogue Table of contents 1 Introduction

2 Popular fiction and its dialogue

2.1 Romantic novels

2.1.1 Fielding’s Bridget Jones

2.2 Dialogue in popular fiction

3 Literary pragmatics

4 Politeness theories

4.1 The concept of politeness

4.2 Review on politeness theories

5 Brown and Levinson’s politeness theory

5.1 Definitions of politeness and face

5.2 Bald on strategy

5.3 Positive politeness

5.4 Negative politeness

5.5 Off record strategy

6 Impoliteness theory

6.1 The concept of impoliteness

6.2 Culpeper’s impoliteness theory

7 Methodology

7.1 Research questions

7.2 Data

7.3 Analytic framework

8 Results

8.1 Bald on record impoliteness

8.2 Positive impoliteness

8.3 Negative impoliteness

8.4 Sarcasm and mock politeness

8.5 Withholding politeness

9 Discussion

9.1 Impoliteness in literary dialogues

9.2 Culpeper’s theory in analyzing impoliteness

9.3 Functions of impoliteness in literary dialogues

References

Impoliteness is a fairly new area of research and it has not yet gained as much attention as its counterpart politeness. Politeness phenomena have been studied for over thirty years but studies on impoliteness have been carried out only during the last decade and their popularity is still growing. Impoliteness is part of social interaction just as politeness but from a different point of view.

Everything that interrupts the interaction and causes social disharmony can be connected to impoliteness. Studies on impoliteness have mostly examined spoken data and a minority deals with written data. This study uses Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones novels Bridget Jones’s Diary and Bridget Jones – the Edge of Reason as a source of data and concentrates only on the dialogues of her novels. The aim and the main research question of this study is to find out what kind of impoliteness appears in the dialogues of these two novels. It is also interesting to know what kind of forms and functions impoliteness has in the dialogues.





Impoliteness and its counterpart politeness belong to the field of pragmatics. I will also discuss some characteristics of popular fiction and literary dialogues as types of discourse. Literary pragmatics will be useful for my study because it concentrates on pragmatic issues that are found in literature. When we communicate with other people we usually want to get along with the person whom we are speaking to. Sometimes the situation might be different when we start a conversation or it might change along the way from friendly to unfriendly, from cooperative to uncooperative. The situation or the context of the conversation is critical because both participants of the conversation interpret each other’s words according to it. An innocent misunderstanding can turn a good conversation into a heated argument where the speakers end up saying impolite things, for example calling each other names or mocking each other. Interpretation of impoliteness depends a lot on the context and it is possible that a certain utterance is interpreted as polite in one situation and in another it can be very impolite. In the context, the factors that affect interpretation are, for example, the relationship of the speakers, the topic of the conversation and the behaviour of the speakers. In my analysis I am able to look at these features when trying to find impoliteness in the dialogues because of the surrounding narrative.

Spoken and written conversations are different in their form and function but that does not have to mean that impolite features in conversations would be different because of this fact. Written conversations are reader friendly since they do not have constant interruptions, hesitations and false starts which are common for spoken conversations. Real spoken conversations which are transcribed are hard to read and understand. If authors wanted their written dialogues to resemble their spoken equivalents, it would reduce the pleasure that people get from reading books. In novels and books the main purpose of dialogues is to carry the plot onwards and develope the characters. When we are reading a dialogue the characters become alive in our minds because they seem to act on their own even though the author controls what happens to them.

The novels I intend to analyze can be said to be popular fiction. Before writing these novels Fielding wrote a column for a magazine and the main character Bridget was introduced to the audience in these columns. Popular fiction is mainly considered to be a type of literature that is not taken very seriously or valued very highly. Romantic novels, thrillers and detective stories are a part of popular fiction and Bridget Jones novels are an example of romantic novels.

These novels are probably not the most traditional type of romantic novels because the author has obviously written these books for a “new generation” of women but still typical themes of a romantic story can be identified. The most typical theme in romantic novels is the finding of a spouse and it is an important theme also in the two novels that are used as data in this study.

However, Fielding brings out a kind of a new perspective to the issue and shows that it is not a bad thing to be single and actually it is quite trendy even in real life. Modern women of today are allowed to be more interested in making a career than starting a family. In Bridget’s case Fielding portrays a single woman in her early forties who is quite desperate to find a man even though she tries to act otherwise.

Romantic fiction is found in women’s magazines and as paperbacks and the majority of the readership consists of women but also of men. There are certain social and linguistic constraints that determine the form of women’s magazine fiction. Romantic fiction is controlled by a manner of thinking where everything that happens is meant to happen because of destiny. In Nash’s (1990:22-23) opinion, romantic fiction portrays women’s role in society and her place in relationships, which can be described as struggling towards a happy ending. Even though women might be shown as submissive in romantic novels, they are always more powerful than their men because of this submission and almost without exception they get the last laugh when they have achieved their goal. The goal of a romantic novel’s heroine are the institutions of our society: marriage, family and home.

2.1.1 Fielding’s Bridget Jones

Fielding’s novel about Bridget Jones is claimed to be one of the most important novels of the 1990s. The novel’s sales figures are huge both in Britain and in the USA but also in other parts of the world. Gilbert (no date available) discusses in his book review the new fictional voice that Fielding has started and he calls it the “thinnist fiction” referring to the female characters who are obsessed with their weight and to the novel’s light comic tone. According to Gilbert the success of the novel can be explained by the fact that women are no longer satisfied with traditional romantic novels. They want the fiction settings to be more realistic but at the same time they do not want to lose the basic narrative elements of the romantic novel. Readers are satisfied when after a long search for happiness the protagonist realizes who is Mr. Wrong and who is Mr. Right. In Gilbert’s opinion (no date available), the most interesting thing in “thinnist fiction” is the war that the protagonist has against herself and her body. For instance in Fielding’s novel Bridget is constantly counting calories, cigarettes and alcohol units and it makes her feel bad if she has not been able to cut them down. Fielding’s phenomenal popularity has inspired many imitations of this kind of new fictional style.

–  –  –

Nash (1990:2-3) describes popular fiction as a disposable article because a popular fiction book is usually read only once and even though it is interesting and amusing it does not matter if one leaves it on a bench in the park or in the train. A classic or a piece of real literature might be read several times and every time the reader will get new information and a deeper understanding about the characters and the book’s themes. Nash (1990:3) states that popular fiction is easily read and just as easily forgotten. The reason for its predictability is that popular fiction is built according to simple and fixed patterns in its narrative. In Nash’s (1990:4-9) opinion, the most predictable genres of popular fiction are romantic stories and thrillers. Almost all romantic stories have the same “goal” in their plots; to make a marriage and a home for the main character.

According to Nash (1990:23-24), romantic stories have three main structural elements: dilation, dialogue and relation. Relation means description of the book’s characters, the actions and events in which they are. Dialogue is conversation which usually takes place between two people. Dilation connects the other two concepts, widens the field of the narrative and takes the plot onwards. The narrator who is part of the tale makes comments or speculations about events that belong to a time preceding the narrative or to current situation Dilation is expressed through certain verbs of cognition and inner perception (think, know, wonder, believe, feel) in the past perfective form, for example “She had known that another son did exist but Tom had never talked about him.”.

For my research the role of dialogue is the most central. According to Nash (1990:29-34), dialogue is indispensable for the romantic stories because of its role as a promotor of the narrative. Dialogues try to mimic everyday talk but still they are very far off from a naturally-occuring conversation. Dialogues are well formed, complete and logical, and interruptions occur very rarely, which is not usual for real speech. Also Toolan (1989: 195) notes “tidying up” of the talk in fiction and points out that fictional dialogue is governed by particular structural and functional principles which the reader must recognize in order to understand how the dialogue is different from everyday talk. Nash (1990:31adds that turn-taking in dialogues is usually signaled with small expressions of an activity or a response, for example “I should have known it was you”, Sheila frowned. “No, I’m innocent!”, Tom lashed back at her. The verb frowned indicates that a turn-over takes place and also that something else happens along with the conversation. These commentary sentences tell about the atmosphere of the conversation and the relationship of the two characters.

At the same time the plot develops through the responses and actions of the characters along with the commentary sentences leaving no room for misunderstandings of the words that have been uttered.

When comparing the dialogues in romantic novels and in thrillers, Nash (1990:



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