Politeness and the Greek diaspora: Emic perceptions, situated experience, and a role for communicative context in shaping behaviors and beliefs

Jill C. Murray*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)
    410 Downloads (Pure)


    Partial bilinguals who were born and raised in diaspora communities sometimes experience pragmatic failure when interacting with native speakers of their heritage language. This paper explores encounters among heritage and native speakers of Greek, focusing specifically on how the former conceptualize politeness, and how expectations may differ. Differences have been identified between Modern Greek and English: for example, the negotiation of the communication norms of a positive politeness society, - the management and mitigation of face threatening acts, the use of diminutives and terms of endearment, and the use of politeness markers and formulae. The present research explores how Greek and English politeness norms are conceptualized, experienced and managed by Australian-born heritage speakers of Greek. In semi-structured interviews of 1-1.5 hours' duration, eliciting both general beliefs and small narratives of lived experience, Greek Australian participants were asked to reflect on their experiences communicating in Greek in a range of interpersonal contexts, including visits to Greece. The key concepts to emerge were directness, consideration and generosity, and respect, manifest in both behavior and language. Findings suggest that politeness expectations are at least partly shaped by experiences of communication with other members of the diaspora and with local and/or native speakers encountered during visits to Greece. A model is proposed for a range of situated interactions emerging from the data, which it is suggested can impact on politeness behavior and belief.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)165-205
    Number of pages41
    JournalIntercultural Pragmatics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright de Gruyter 2017. Article originally published in 'Intercultural Pragmatics', Vol. 14, Iss. 2, pp. 165–205. The original article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/ip-2017-0009. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • diaspora
    • emic
    • Greek
    • intercultural
    • politeness
    • socio-pragmatic plurality


    Dive into the research topics of 'Politeness and the Greek diaspora: Emic perceptions, situated experience, and a role for communicative context in shaping behaviors and beliefs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this