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The Multilingual InternetLanguage, Culture, and Communication Online$
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Brenda Danet and Susan C. Herring

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304794

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304794.001.0001

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Breaking Conversational Norms on a Portuguese Users’ Network

Breaking Conversational Norms on a Portuguese Users’ Network

Men as Adjudicators of Politeness?

(p.256) 11 Breaking Conversational Norms on a Portuguese Users’ Network
The Multilingual Internet

Sandi Michele De Oliveira

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines conversational threads of asynchronous emails exchanged on a Portuguese university’s staff users’ network. The threads would be considered impolite in face-to-face interaction, yet they help to define this online community of practice. A comparison by gender of the degree and nature of active participation in the network reveals that men took on the role of adjudicators of politeness, particularly in cases when misuse of the network was perceived to have occurred, either misuse in general or inappropriate language use. The latter category includes the use of, and reactions to, address forms that would be blatantly inappropriate in face-to-face interactions in Portuguese. A higher percentage of women’s than men’s transgressions were chastised, and women were expected to apologize. The picture that emerges is one of traditional gender asymmetry with a culture-specific difference: Portuguese men as adjudicators of politeness.

Keywords:   academic discourse, Portuguese, asynchronous CMC, communicative style, discussion lists, gender and culture, impoliteness, pragmatics

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