DOI: 10.1075/jlac.00091.mor ISSN: 2213-1272

“A history lesson, perhaps, for my novice counterpart”

Seyed Mohammadreza Mortazavi, Hamed Zandi, Mohammad Makki
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


In this paper, we explore how (im)politeness and face are managed by two top diplomats of the US and Iran amidst an ongoing conflict where both claim to occupy moral high grounds. To that end, 360 relevant tweets posted on the Iranian Foreign Minister and US Secretary of State’s official accounts over one year were selected and analyzed qualitatively through the theoretical lens of

Culpeper’s (2011)
impoliteness formulae and implicational impoliteness framework. Three overarching pragmatic functions were identified: criticizing the adversary, giving directives, and showing solidarity with allies while projecting a significant amount of face-threat to the adversary. We also identified three main strategies that they used to justify their impoliteness, namely, appeal to the moral order, appeal to common sense, and appeal to international conventions and regulations. These findings can contribute to impoliteness literature by providing insights into the pragmatic functions and justifications in political communication, where the speakers have to balance their face needs and their communicative goals.

More from our Archive