Vitaly Voinov

Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor

Laurel Stvan


Whereas a few core areas of the Tuvan language (such as phonology and morphology) have been fairly well described by linguists, pragmasemantic topics in the language, including politeness, have until now not been probed deeply. Using insights from theories of linguistic politeness proposed by Brown & Levinson (1978, 1987) and by their numerous critics (e.g., Ide 1989; Nwoye 1992; Watts 2003; Lakoff & Ide 2005; LPRG 2011), in this dissertation I investigate the morphosyntactic, pragmatic and sociolinguistic aspects of some of the primary verbal means that Tuvans use in conversation to express politeness to each other. The language material is based on a corpus of Tuvan literature, fieldwork questionnaires, and my individual contact with Tuvan speakers over the past decade. I first explore emic perceptions that native Tuvan speakers have of what politeness means in Tuvan society: how Tuvans themselves metalinguistically characterize and categorize politeness behavior, what social norms they believe to be primary in generating it, and their evaluation of the current level of politeness versus impoliteness in Tuva. Following this, I examine politeness devices that Tuvans use to manage face threats from an etic standpoint, separately looking at devices based on norms of social indexing and involving group face (Nwoye 1992) and those based on the desire for non-imposition and individual face (Brown & Levinson 1987). Specific devices that I investigate in detail include respectful pronouns, deferential terms of address, indirect speech acts, polite auxiliary verbs and politeness particles. Although genuine politeness is the primary focus of the dissertation, the investigation also touches upon closely related issues, such as rudeness, overpoliteness and mock politeness.


Linguistics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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