'Excuse me but are you a blooming idiot'. The use of apologies in teenage talk.

Karin Aijmer

University of Gothenburg

Research on (im)politeness has drawn attention to the ways in which norms and values may differ depending on factors such as the speech situation or the age and gender of the speakers. Apologies are, for example, closely associated with politeness and face concerns but they also have a potential for discursive and strategic impoliteness. This paper will explore how teenagers use apology expressions such as excuse me, (I'm) sorry , (I beg your) pardon in mocking or sarcastic ways to construct a particular identity.

The apology expressions are collected from the COLT Corpus (the Bergen Corpus of London Teenage Language) which consists of about half a million words of teenage spoken language. The starting-point for the research comes from the observation that the apology phrases were strikingly more frequent in COLT than in corresponding corpora with adult speakers (the London-Lund Corpus of Spoken English, the spoken part of the British component of the ICE-Corpus). It can therefore be hypothesized that teenagers use apologies differently from adults.

The focus is on the following research questions: How are apologies used by teenagers for fighting, teasing, mock politeness, joking, novelty and creativity? In what ways is the insincere interpretation of the apology expression signaled linguistically? It will be argued that the strategies are used consciously by the teenagers to construct a social identity and to establish solidarity with members of their peer group.

Week 11 2017/2018

Wednesday 20th December 2017

Management school LT9