Stephen C. Levinson


Displaying 1 - 4 of 4
  • Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge University Press.


    This study is about the principles for constructing polite speech. The core of it was published as Brown and Levinson (1978); here it is reissued with a new introduction which surveys the now considerable literature in linguistics, psychology and the social sciences that the original extended essay stimulated, and suggests new directions for research. We describe and account for some remarkable parallelisms in the linguistic construction of utterances with which people express themselves in different languges and cultures. A motive for these parallels is isolated - politeness, broadly defined to include both polite friendliness and polite formality - and a universal model is constructed outlining the abstract principles underlying polite usages. This is based on the detailed study of three unrelated languages and cultures: the Tamil of south India, the Tzeltal spoken by Mayan Indians in Chiapas, Mexico, and the English of the USA and England, supplemented by examples from other cultures. Of general interest is the point that underneath the apparent diversity of polite behaviour in different societies lie some general pan-human principles of social interaction, and the model of politeness provides a tool for analysing the quality of social relations in any society.
  • Levinson, S. C. (1987). Minimization and conversational inference. In M. Bertuccelli Papi, & J. Verschueren (Eds.), The pragmatic perspective: Selected papers from the 1985 International Pragmatics Conference (pp. 61-129). Benjamins.
  • Levinson, S. C. (1987). Pragmatics and the grammar of anaphora: A partial pragmatic reduction of Binding and Control phenomena. Journal of Linguistics, 23, 379-434. doi:10.1017/S0022226700011324.


    This paper is one in a series that develops a pragmatic framework in loose confederation with Jay Atlas and Larry Horn: thus they may or may not be responsible for the ideas contained herein. Jay Atlas provided many comments which I have utilized or perverted as the case may be. The Australian data to which this framework is applied was collected with the financial and personal assistance of many people and agencies acknowledged separately below; but I must single out for special thanks John Haviland, who recommended the study of Guugu Yimidhirr anaphora to me and upon whose grammatical work on Guugu Yimidhirr this paper is but a minor (and perhaps flawed) elaboration. A grant from the British Academy allowed me to visit Haviland in September 1986 to discuss many aspects of Guugu Yimidhirr with him, and I am most grateful to the Academy for funding this trip and to Haviland for generously making available his time, his texts (from which I have drawn many examples, not always with specific acknowledgement) and most especially his expertise. Where I have diverged from his opinion I may well learn to regret it. I must also thank Nigel Vincent for putting me in touch with a number of recent relevant developments in syntax (only some of which I have been able to address) and for suggestions for numerous improvements. In addition, I have benefited immensely for comments on a distinct but related paper (Levinson, 1987) kindly provided by Jay Atlas, John Haviland, John Heritage, Phil Johnson-Laird, John Lyons, Tanya Reinhart, Emanuel Schegloff and an anonymous referee; and from comments on this paper by participants in the Cambridge Linguistics Department seminar where it was first presented (especial thanks to John Lyons and Huang Yan for further comments, and Mary Smith for a counter-example). Despite all this help, there are sure to be errors of data and analysis that I have persisted in. Aid in gathering the Australian data is acknowledged separately below.
  • Levinson, S. C. (1987). Implicature explicated? [Comment on Sperber and Wilson]. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 10(4), 722-723.


    Comment on Sperber and Wilson

Share this page