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Avoiding disagreement in Romanian conversational discourse: the use of diminutives

Publicația: Bucharest Working Papers in Linguistics, X (2)
Editura:Universitatea din București
Rezumat:The paper examines the role of diminutives, a subclass of softeners, in Romanian conversational discourse as positive politeness devices for avoiding disagreement. Like many other pragmatic particles softeners are multifunctional. In addition to mitigating the imposition of face-threatening acts, softeners (diminutives being no exception) tend to serve another equally important interactional function: that of expressing shared knowledge thereby offering the addressee the opportunity to provide support and understanding, i.e., to show that both speaker and addressee are on the same wavelength. By inviting shared knowledge between speaker and addressee softeners become instrumental in avoiding disagreement. The function served by diminutives in the excerpts analysed in this paper is to stress the emotional bond among the participants in the interaction, rather than being intended as purely descriptive items that indicate the smallness of the referent. These affective connotations thus shift from applying to one lexical item to applying to the whole conversational encounter, which turns them into markers of small talk.
Cuvinte-cheie:conversation analysis, diminutives, positive politeness, softeners, small talk

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