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On the dual role of expressive speech acts: Relational work on signs announcing closures during the Covid-19 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Eva Ogiermann, Spyridoula Bella

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Early online date6 Aug 2021
E-pub ahead of print6 Aug 2021
PublishedOct 2021


  • Expressive Speech Acts FINAL

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    Uploaded date:12 Oct 2021

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

    Licence:CC BY-NC-ND

King's Authors


This paper provides some new insights into the dual function of expressive speech acts discussed in pragmatic theory as either expressions of genuine emotions or conventionalised acts of courtesy. Drawing on the framework of interpersonal pragmatics, it analyses signs displayed on the doors of closed businesses in Athens and London during the first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic. These closure signs are characterised by a heavy use of relational features, including four expressive speech acts, namely greetings, apologies, thanks and wishes, which form the focus of the analysis. The relational work performed by these speech acts reflects the social changes brought about by the pandemic as well as the business owners’ attempts to retain their customers. The expressive speech acts featured on the signs are evaluated against the norms set out by the genre of closure signs. The comparative angle of the study, on the other hand, links the discussion to norms related to the display of emotions and to the use of conventionalised formulae in the two countries under study, thus revealing culture-specific perspectives on the dual function of expressive speech acts.

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