ERIC Number: ED250945
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1981-Nov
Christ Respects No Man's Person: The Plain Language of the Early Quakers and the Rhetoric of Impoliteness. Sociolinguistic Working Paper Number 88.
Because speaking was a major symbolic focus of 17th century Quakerism, a movement of radical puritanism, and distinctive ways of speaking represented the principal visible means by which the Quakers differentiated themselves from others, much of the religious and political conflict surrounding Quakerism implicated speaking in some way. One aspect of their speech that challenged the core of social relations and interaction was the Quaker refusal to use politeness phenomena: greetings, leavetakings, salutations, titles, and honorific pronouns. The Quakers actively criticized the practice of customary manners, feeling that such utterances were not literally true and that they represented earthly pride. It is not clear what address forms they actually did employ except that they did call both Quakers and non-Quakers "friend" and that the handshake became a customary gesture of leavetaking in some situations. The reason for the Quaker rejection of "you" in the second person singular is the subject of much speculation focusing primarily on two principles: grammaticality and the rejection of forms of deference. The "plain style" of speaking characterized by these elements was the subject of much public debate, the thrust of some of which was to try to decrease the validity of plain talk by trivializing it. The Quaker response was that if the plain style did not deserve so much attention, why did the non-Quakers oppose it so vehemently? The fact is that it did become a rallying symbol for both Quakers and non-Quakers during this peak period of the Quakers' missionary zeal. (MSE)
Descriptors: Conformity, Interpersonal Communication, Language Role, Language Styles, Language Usage, Religious Cultural Groups, Social Behavior, Sociolinguistics
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 211 East 7th St., Austin, TX 78701.
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Southwest Educational Development Lab., Austin, TX.