The public apology
: a linguistic exploration of politeness in the ritual interaction of the tribal dispute resolution in Jordanian culture

  • Abeer Malkawi

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Societies have different strategies to be used by their members in order to resolve a dispute among them. Resolving the dispute takes a ritual and conventional form in Jordanian culture under the title العشائريه العطوه) the ‘ṭwah), the context I investigate.

The data which I collected from YouTube are 39 ‘ṭwah for manslaughter and murder cases, I considered the ‘ṭwah as institutional discourse (Bardovi-Harlig andHartford, 2008). The ‘ṭwah includes routinised and standardised speech events which take place in a restorative justice place called الضحيه أهل مضافه) the victim’s clan’s guesthouse). In this space, the aim is to resolve the dispute between the offender’s clan and the victim’s clan. In order to achieve this goal, the offender’s clan sends الجاهه) the delegation) to the victim clan’s guesthouse asking for the ‘ṭwah and meeting requirements of the victim’s clan.

Methodologically, I used public videos from YouTube, as women are not permitted to attend the ‘ṭwah sessionsin Jordanian culture, it meansI could not video-record data. I chose ten cases to be analysed including different ‘ṭwah. This is beneficial to conduct a systematic analysis of similar patterns that can occur in more than one episode and differences that can be attributed to the variety of people involved, or the variety of topics or the variety of regions.

I used the qualitative analysis in order to investigate linguistic features used by the delegation leader representing the offender’s clan, and linguistic features used by the victim’s clan leader representing the victim’s clan. I analysed the data based on politeness theories and speech act theory. Politeness “is the expression of the speakers’ intention to mitigate face threats carried by certain face threatening acts toward another” (Mills, 2003: 6).

Results show how performing the request act in the ritual dispute resolution context was generated by male interlocutors who have an equal social status, but they have a different institutionalised power status, and the results also show how a direct request strategy used differently by leaders who have different institutionalised power status is related to politeness in order to save the group and the social face.
Date of AwardFeb 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorFederica Formato (Supervisor), Kenneth Turner (Supervisor) & Dora Carpenter-Latiri (Supervisor)

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