A theoretical approach to the relationship between impoliteness and conflict, with some examples from the Spanish-speaking cultures

Keywords: impoliteness, conflict, similarities, differences, fustigation impoliteness, dominating-style conflict



Although impoliteness implies conflict, the opposite may not necessarily be true: a conflict can be resolved in a friendly way, while impoliteness triggers conflict or makes it worse. The existing research on impoliteness in the Spanish-speaking cultures does not deal specifically with theoretical discussions about impoliteness and conflict, possibly because impoliteness usually leads to conflict as an associated concept. This relationship between impoliteness and conflict is embedded in the realms of impolite disagreements, impolite clashes and similar negative occurrences of verbal aggression. Hence, the prevailing attitude among researchers of impoliteness both within and outside the cultural context of Spanish has been to perceive conflict as something intrinsic to impoliteness, and thus the concepts of impoliteness and conflict have been approached in the same way. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to analyse the common ground between both concepts as well as their main differences, illustrated with examples taken from social interactions of Spanish-speaking cultures. This question is worth looking into, for it has received little attention in the literature to date.  Besides, it is also interesting to note that despite the characteristics that impoliteness and conflict have in common, they are not the same phenomenon in terms of the effects caused in interaction by each one of them.


Download data is not yet available.


Alcaide Lara, E. (2011). La descortesía “sensibilizadora”: el caso de la publicidad de ONGs e Instituciones en España. In Alcoba, S. & Poch, D. (Coords.). Cortesía y publicidad (pp. 27-48). Barcelona: Ariel Letras.

Anderson, C. A. & Huesmann, L. R. (2003). Human aggression: A social-cognitive view. In Hogg, M. A., Cooper, J. (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Social Psychology (pp. 296-323). London: Sage Publications.

Blas Arroyo, J. L. (2014). Factores condicionantes en la producción y recepción de la descortesía en un reality show. Una aproximación variacionista. Revista de Filología, 32, pp. 17-43.

Bou-Franch, R. J. & Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, P. (2014). Conflict management in massive polylogues: A case study from YouTube. Journal of Pragmatics, 73, pp. 19-36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2014.05.001

Bousfield, D. (2008). Impoliteness in interaction. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Bousfield, D. & Locher, M. A. (2008). Impoliteness in Language. Studies on its Interplay with Power in Theory and Practice. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.167

Bravo, D. (2009). Pragmática, sociopragmática y pragmática sociocultural del discurso de la cortesía. Una introducción. In Bravo, D., Hernández Flores, N. & Cordisco, A. (Eds.), Aportes pragmáticos, sociopragmáticos y socioculturales a los estudios de la cortesía en español (Vol. 2, pp.31-68). Buenos Aires: Dunken.

Collins, R. (2008). Violence: A micro-sociological theory. Princeton/Oxford: Princeton University Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400831753

Coser, L (2001). The funtions of social conflict. New York: Routledge.

Culpeper, J. (1996). Towards an anatomy of impoliteness. Journal of Pragmatics, 25: 349-367. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00014-3

Culpeper, J. (2011). Impoliteness. Using Language to Cause Offence. Cambrigdge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511975752

Garcés-Conejos Blitvich, Pilar (2009). Impoliteness and identity in the American news media: The ‘Culture Wars’. Journal of Politeness Research, 5(2), pp. 273–304. https://doi.org/10.1515/JPLR.2009.014

Geen, R. G. (2001). Human aggression. Buckingham/Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Graham, S. L., & Hardaker, C. (2017). (Im)politeness in digital communication. In Culpeper, J., Haugh, M. & Kádár, D. (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Linguistic (Im)politeness (pp. 785-814). London: Palgrave. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-37508-7_30

Hawes, L. (2015). New Philosophy of Social Conflict: Mediating Collective Trauma and Transitional Justice. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Kaul de Marlangeon, S. (1995). La Fuerza de Cortesía - Descortesía y sus Estrategias en el Discurso Tanguero de la década del '20. RASAL, 3, pp. 7-38. [1992-2003] Tesis de Especialista en Lingüística. Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. Retrieved from: http://www.edice.org/Documentos/SKaul.pdf

Kaul de Marlangeon, S. (2005a). Descortesía de fustigación por afiliación exacerbada o refractariedad. In D. Bravo (Ed.), Estudios de la (des) cortesía en español. Categorías conceptuales y aplicaciones a corpora orales y escritos (Vol. 1, pp. 299-318). Buenos Aires: Dunken.

Kaul de Marlangeon, S. (2005b). Descortesía intragrupal-crónica en la interacción coloquial de clase media baja del español rioplatense. Łódz Papers in Pragmatics, 1, pp. 121-138.

Kaul de Marlangeon, S. (2008). Tipología del comportamiento verbal descortés en español. In Briz Gómez, A., Hidalgo Navarro, A., Albelda Marco, M., Contreras, J. & Hernández Flores, N. (Eds.), Cortesía y conversación: de lo escrito a lo oral. Tercer Coloquio Internacional del Programa EDICE (Vol. 3, pp. 254-266). Valencia: Universidad de Valencia.

Kaul de Marlangeon, S. (2010). Perspectiva topológica de la descortesía verbal. Comparación entre algunas comunidades de práctica de descortesía del mundo hispanohablante. In Orletti, F. & Mariottini, L. (Eds.), (Des)cortesía en español. Espacios teóricos y metodológicos para su estudio (pp. 71-86). Roma: Università Roma Tre.

Kaul de Marlangeon, S. (2014). Delimitación de unidades extralingüísticas de análisis del discurso de(des)cortesía. Signo y Seña, 26, pp. 7-22.

Kaul de Marlangeon, S. (2015). Actividades de autoimagen de comentaristas en redes sociales. In Bravo, D. & Bernal, M. (Eds.), Perspectivas sociopragmáticas y socioculturales del análisis del discurso (pp. 305-323). Buenos Aires: Dunken.

Kaul de Marlangeon, S. (2017). Tipos de descortesía verbal y emociones en contextos de cultura hispanohablante. Pragmática Sociocultural (SOPRAG), 5(1), pp. 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1515/soprag-2017-0001

Kaul de Marlangeon, S. (2018). Fustigation impoliteness, emotions and extimacy in argentine media celebrities. Russian Journal of Linguistics, 22(1), pp. 161-174. https://doi.org/10.22363/2312-9182-2018-22-1

Kaul de Marlangeon, S. & Alba-Juez, L.(2012). A typology of verbal impoliteness behaviour for the English and Spanish Cultures. Revista Española de Lingüística Aplicada (RESLA), 25, pp. 69-92.

Kelman, H. (2010). Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation: A Social Psychological Perspective on Ending Violent Conflict Between Identity Groups. Landscapes of Violence, 1(1), Article 5. Retrieved from: https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/hckelman/files/conflict_resolution_and_reconciliation_lov_2010.pdf

Kienpointner, M. (1997). Varieties of rudeness: types and functions of impolite utterances. Functions of Language, 4(2), 251-287. https://doi.org/10.1075/fol.4.2.05kie

Mills, S. (2003). Gender and Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615238

Rahim, M. A. (2011). Managing conflict in organizations. New Brunswick/London: Transaction Publishers.

Rahim, M. A. & Bonoma, T.V. (1979). Managing Organizational Conflict: A Model for Diagnosis and Intervention. Psychological Reports, 44(3), pp. 1323-1344. https://doi.org/10.2466/pr0.1979.44.3c.1323

Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behaviour. In Worchel, S. & Austin, W. G. (Eds.) Psychology of intergroup relations (pp. 7–24). Chicago: Nelson-Hall.

Terkourafi, M. (2008). Toward a unified theory of politeness, impoliteness, and rudeness. In Bousfield, D. & Locher, M.A. (eds.) Impoliteness in Language. Studies on its Interplay with Power in Theory and Practice (pp. 45-74). Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Tjosvold, D. (2006). Defining conflict and making choices about its management: Lighting the dark side of organizational life. International Journal of Conflict Management, 17(2), pp. 87-95. https://doi.org/10.1108/10444060610736585

Watzlawick, P., Beavin J. & Jackson, D. (2011). Pragmatics of Human Communication. A Study of Interactional Patterns, Pathologies, and Paradoxes. New York: Norton.

How to Cite
Kaul de Marlangeon, S. (2020). A theoretical approach to the relationship between impoliteness and conflict, with some examples from the Spanish-speaking cultures. Texts in Process, 5(2), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.17710/tep.2019.5.2.1kaul