Metadiscourse of impoliteness, language ideology, and identity: Offense-taking as social action

Hsi Yao Su*, Wan Hsin Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the interwoven relationship between the metadiscourse of (im)politeness, language ideologies, and identity. It examines YouTube comments on a video recording of a controversial incident in Taiwan in which a Taiwanese American, J, insulted a bus driver in English, a marked language choice in the local context. It was found that J's abusive language and his language choice being English were the top sources of offense as expressed in the comments, and four main strands of language ideologies are identified accordingly. We see the taking of offense in the critical comments as social actions in two senses: each comment is an individual pragmatic act sanctioning a perceived moral transgression, while, collectively, the comments serve as a discursive space where language ideologies are shaped, contested, and reinforced. We further explore how various identities, such as "foreigner", "ABC", and "Taiwanese"are discursively constructed in the process of impoliteness assessment and how the perceived attack on the driver's social identity face is motivated by J's perceived identities and presumed language proficiency. We argue that the shift in focus to the evaluativity of (im)politeness makes it possible to bring (im)politeness research and sociolinguistics closer to each other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-255
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Politeness Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jul 1


  • identity
  • impoliteness
  • language choice
  • language ideology
  • offense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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