The metapragmatics of direct utterances

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter revisits the analysis of the dimension of “directness” in language use as theorized within a socio-pragmatic perspective and as empirically explored within the ethnography of speaking. It draws on Penelope Brown and Stephen Levinson’s seminal study of politeness strategies, which integrates Paul Grice’s approach to the logic of conversation and Goffman’s study of “facework” in social interaction, and on ethnographies of indirectness (Arabic musayra) and directness (Israeli dugri speech) as culturally inflected ways of speaking whose study brings out the social regulation and cultural codification of indirect and direct talk. Further exploring the cultural warrants that legitimate the use of directness in the case of asymmetrical power relations, the analysis incorporates Foucault’s discussion of the ancient Greek metapragmatic notion of parrhesia (fearless speech). In so doing, it highlights the performative, defiant role of direct utterances in the rhetoric of sociopolitical protest.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
ISSN (Print)2214-3807
ISSN (Electronic)2214-3815

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016.


  • Directness
  • Politeness
  • Pragmatics and culture
  • Socio-pragmatics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Philosophy
  • Applied Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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