Linguistik online 20, 3/04

Linguistic Politeness and Greeting Rituals in German-speaking Switzerland

Felicity Rash (Queen Mary, London)

 

Abstract

This paper describes the results of research into linguistic politeness in German-speaking Switzerland (GSS) and into one type of politeness in particular, namely the speech acts of greeting and leave-taking denoted by the German verb grüssen.[1] German-speaking Swiss people adhere to strict conventions of polite behaviour which have been eroded over time in the English-speaking world. My research shows that speakers of Swiss German, both young and old, and from all walks of life, believe that it is important to retain their traditional politeness rituals, and that greetings formulae are especially important. Very few germanophone Swiss that people conform to polite greeting practices out of self-interest (as one of my informants suggested), rather they believe that politeness is important for social cohesion and a sign of respect and affection for one's fellow human beings.


 

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