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‘Ooh whoops I'm sorry! Teenagers' use of English apology expressions

Journal article
Authors Karin Aijmer
Published in Journal of pragmatics
Volume 142
Pages 258-269
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 258-269
Language en
Keywords Mock politeness Mock impoliteness Mixed message Teenage language Apology
Subject categories Languages and Literature


The aim of this paper is to contribute to the on-going debate in the literature on mock im/politeness by exploring the ways in which teenagers use apologies. The data have been taken from the Bergen Corpus of London Teenage Language (COLT). The starting-point for the corpus analysis was to search for ‘apology expressions’ operationalised as one of the forms sorry, pardon, excuse me, forgive me, (I) apologize (and variations of these) in order to describe their frequencies and functions. In the next step, I investigated how the expressions were used in ‘insincere’ ways (for example sarcastically or for banter). Apologies used for banter were typically followed by a response in the next turn denying or rejecting the apology. They functioned as a solidarity strategy establishing a relationship of rapport between the teenagers. Ironic apologies were identified by a special ironic or sarcastic tone. In addition, it was possible to find some correlation between certain forms (in particular oh sorry) and the ironic interpretation of the apology. Ironic apologies could also be signalled by the use of expanded forms of apologies, intensification and more formal expressions associated with overpoliteness. Teenagers' conversational style was also characterized by the use of apologies for mimicry to perform stories or for comic parody.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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