Power & Solidarity

Maintaining and Negotiating Relationships

“Say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’,” “Don’t belch in public,” “Don’t stare,” “Don’t curse in front of grandma.” You may not understand why you should follow such seemingly arbitrary “rules” of politeness, especially when other people seem to ignore them at will. These kinds of conventional “rules” are not what this module is about. Although quite complicated at times, the strategies discussed here are not at all arbitrary: they are designed to ensure that all participants in a conversation have their basic needs recognized and respected. If you fail to recognize the basic needs of the people you are talking to, you appear to not care about them, and this makes it difficult for them to interact with you.

Every human being wants to be (to some extent) independent and autonomous, free to make his or her own decisions. We want other people to show some deference to us, to reassure us that they’re not going to trample on our freedom. At the exact same time, we also need to feel liked and accepted, part of a group. Obviously, these two basic needs are in direct conflict: if you are part of a group, you have some responsibility towards other group members and are not therefore entirely free. Every time you interact with another human being, your basic needs and theirs are threatened in one direction or another!

Anthropologists and linguists call these needs “negative face” (the need to be independent, the power component of our personality) and “positive face” (the need to be part of the group, the solidarity component), and have studied how different cultures have developed strategies (many of them remarkably similar) for signalling that these needs are being attended to in conversation. Every utterance is a “face-threatening act” in one way or another, so we need to calculate how threatening the acts are, in order to determine how much extra politeness work we have to do to offset the threats. It’s emotional homeostasis, using language to keep all of our relationships balanced.

Although most of the ritual forms of politeness that you have been taught are forms of negative (power-based) politeness, both types are important to keep in mind.

Evaluating Face Threats

Evaluating Each individual Threat vs. Generalizing

There are several factors to consider when evaluating how threatening a given utterance is, and it’s hard to reason through all of them in real-time face-to-face conversations. Most people start routinely making these calculations early in life, learning to be more polite to teachers than to classmates, to parents than to siblings, to strangers than to family members, etc., and it takes years of practice until they can navigate all the face-threats comfortably. Certain face-threatening acts never feel comfortable! By working through examples ahead of time, without the demands and distractions of real interactions, it may be possible to develop strategies for particular face-threatening acts that must be performed frequently. This allows time for these strategies to become comfortable before they must be used in conversation. Making certain generalizations in theory may help you save time, so you don’t have to figure out each situation “from scratch.” Even people who are excellent communicators sometimes plan interactions ahead of time and even script out potential utterances and/or responses (“if he says X, I’ll say Y….”), sometimes even practicing them out loud to hear how they sound.

How well do you know each other?

We use our language to mark relative intimacy, showing more deference to strangers than to acquaintances, and more to acquaintances than to close friends and family. (It may seem somewhat paradoxical that we are the ‘rudest’ to our nearest and dearest – but it makes sense if you think about it. By not being overly formal and polite, you send the signal that the bond is solid enough not to require the extra work.) So I might greet a stranger coming into my office with a very polite “Good morning, Ma’am” while I’d greet an acquaintance with a more casual “Hi, Maggie! How’re you?” and I might just grunt an acknowledgment at my spouse (especially before we’ve had our morning coffee). On the other hand, the better we know each other, the more we feel the need to underline our solidarity with each other. You may not realize it, but most humans are very insecure: we need to be constantly reassured that we are liked and accepted.

Is there a difference in power between you?

In general, we use our language to show our understanding of power differences. When two people of equal power interact, they will strive to match their language in terms of politeness strategies, so neither is showing more deference. When we speak “up” (to someone who has more power than we do), we are careful to show more deference in our language choices; when we speak “down” (to someone who has less power), we expect them to defer to us. So I might greet my boss with a very polite “Good afternoon, Mrs. Abernathy,” my co-worker with a more casual “Hi, Janice,” and my subordinate with “Hey.”

Someone in a position of power can choose to speak very directly and bluntly – but often, even they will choose to use more politeness, to avoid hurting the feelings of the people they are speaking to. For example, a mom might start by saying to her son an indirect “You know, you can’t get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs without eating some vegetables,” and (seeing no sign of compliance) graduate to a polite-but-direct request such as “Would you please eat at least some of your vegetables?”, and only after the failure of several polite attempts snap out the command “Eat your vegetables, young man!” A boss might start by saying to an employee, “Would you please revise that report, when you get a chance?” and then some time later say, “I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve done on that report; I need it in the next few days” before escalating to “Get that report done by tomorrow (or you’re fired)!”

How much of a commitment is required of the person you’re talking to?

Independently of the relationship between the speakers, different acts are inherently more or less face-threatening, depending upon the degree of imposition involved. Are you asking them to give up some time, to make some effort, to take a risk of some kind (e.g., risk of losing money, or risk of embarrassment)? The greater the imposition, the more politeness is required to offset it. No matter who you’re talking to, you have to use more politeness asking to borrow someone’s book for a week than to use their pen for a minute. And borrowing their car (even for a very short time) requires a lot more politeness than borrowing their book.

[Because this is a very complex topic, you may want to jump to each exercise directly, as it becomes relevant, rather than trying to do all the reading first, and then doing all the exercises.]

Renegotiating Relationships

 Renegotiating Relationships

In addition to simply reflecting awareness of existing levels of intimacy and relative positions of power, language is used to renegotiate these. If you have not been paying attention to how much linguistic politeness people have been using with you, you have been missing important signals not just about how they view your current relationship, but about how they would like it to change! Renegotiations of this sort are hugely face-threatening by definition (if you’re trying to get closer, the potential for rejection is an enormous threat to your own positive face; if you’re trying to take power away from the other person or push them away, you’re threatening their negative or positive face) so most people approach them very indirectly, often beginning with very subtle shifts in the amount of politeness used. Note that hardly any of this is conscious on the part of most speakers – they have no idea that they’re using language in this way – but that doesn’t make it any less real, and there’s no reason why you can’t successfully navigate through the system more consciously and deliberately than other people. Most relationship counselors pay attention to the way that the people involved speak to one another as a diagnostic tool!

An adolescent who wants to tell her parents to back off …

An adolescent who wants to tell her parents to back off (or anyone in a subordinate position who wishes to have increased power in the relationship) can start speaking as if she does have more power – that is, less politely. If the parents (or other “superiors”) accept this speech from her, then they have essentially accepted and acknowledged her new status. The amount of politeness one uses is, of course, a sliding scale – not an on/off switch. If her shift is too extreme, the parents (or other superiors) can put her back in her “proper” place by overtly saying something like “Don’t you speak that way to me!” or “Who do you think you are?” If they’re willing to negotiate, they may just giving nonverbal signals of discomfort at her means of expressing herself, and she can readjust until they’re both comfortable with the amount of deference being shown.

Someone in a close relationship (friends, family members, lovers) who feels that there is a problem with the relationship …

Someone in a close relationship (friends, family members, lovers) who feels that there is a problem with the relationship can suddenly and drastically increase the level of politeness, speaking to the other as if they were a mere acquaintance. Although such a large, sudden shift may be an unconscious reaction (the speaker is feeling less close to the other person and unconsciously shifts levels of politeness to reflect this), it is sometimes done quite consciously and deliberately, to “complain” about a particular offense the other has committed. The other will typically notice and respond to it. If the other person in the relationship knows that they have done something to anger or offend, this is an opportunity to apologize, to try to repair the relationship. If they do not know why they are being pushed away, they will start probing, trying to find out.

Someone who wants to be friendlier with you….

Someone who wants to be friendlier with you can simply start speaking as if you are already closer (decreasing the levels of linguistic politeness used). If you reciprocate, you signal that you have accepted the offer. If you go in the other direction, increasing the amount of linguistic politeness in your speech, it is a clear rejection of their assumption of familiarity. If you merely maintain your current levels of politeness, neither increasing or decreasing, it’s a more lukewarm response: you’re not offended or appalled at the increased familiarity, but you haven’t really committed yourself to having a closer relationship. Note that friendship occurs by degrees; it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. William Rawlins, who has spent more than 30 years studying interpersonal communication in friendships, identifies six different stages:

  1. Role-limited interactions (in which, say, you might just interact as co-workers, or just as members of the same gym, but there are no overtures to broaden the scope of the interactions);
  2. Friendly relations (in which you begin checking each other out for common ground, trying to see if there is the basis for a friendship, but you haven’t committed to actually being friends yet);
  3. Moving towards friendship (in which you make small disclosures outside the bounds of the roles previously established);
  4. Nascent friendship (an acknowledged but casual friendship);
  5. Stabilized friendship (a solid friendship that you expect to continue, in which you can begin to take each other for granted);
  6. And finally, for some, waning friendship (in which you begin to grow apart).

Moving from one stage to another necessarily involves renegotiation which will be reflected in language use, with solidarity politeness increasing in stages 1-5 (and then perhaps declining if the friendship ever wanes). As solidarity politeness increases, power (deference) politeness may decrease.

Renegotiating Situations vs. Renegotiating Relationships

Someone might also use shifts in language to send messages such as “it’s time to get serious about this task we’re working on,” or “okay, we’ve finished the task, we can joke around again.” These are not intended to be permanent renegotiations of the relationship, but are just limited to the current situation or interaction. Typically, these shifts are less dramatic than ones intended to renegotiate relationships, and will not endure from one situation to another. As with indirect speech, you will have to reason through the relevance of the shift. Many people are a bit “tone deaf” to these changes, and even if they do notice them will have trouble figuring out the intention behind them. Generally, if someone seems to be acting friendlier, there’s no problem. If you interpret it as a situational cue (permission to joke around and be friendlier in the moment), you are likely to solidify the friendship in ways both of you will enjoy. If the shift is in the other direction, however, the risks are greater. The more insecure you are about the relationship, the more inclined you might be to panic that someone is trying to push you away. If you notice that someone has shifted in a meaningful way, you might try first interpreting it as a situation cue to take care of business, but if the other person seems unhappy with this response and increases the intensity of the shift, keeping it up across situations, you might try to have a conversation with them about the relationship.

Positive Politeness (Solidarity) Strategies

Positive Politeness (Solidarity) Strategies

These are the strategies that “flatter” positive face (someone’s desire to be part of the group); they include camaraderie (friendliness), sympathy, concern, affection, etc. Most of the “ritual” politeness that children are taught relates to showing deference and respect (negative politeness strategies), so it may be harder but even more important for you to master positive politeness strategies, especially if you’re trying to signal friendliness. If someone is using these strategies with you, it is a sign that they are trying to be friendly and to include you. If you do not reciprocate to some degree, you will be seen as rejecting their offer of friendship, pushing them away. Almost all of the strategies can backfire if overly exaggerated or taken too far, so be sure to pay attention to the attached warnings.

Emphasize Common Ground

Reminding the other person that you are, in fact, part of the same group (or at least somehow similar) is a direct appeal to their sense of solidarity. You might do this rather directly by reminding them of shared history (“Do you remember when…?”), characteristics (“You’re like me, we both….”), thoughts/beliefs/values (“We agree that….”, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”, etc). Talk about “you & I,” and “we.”

If you both belong to a group which has its own slang or specialized jargon, its own ritualized greetings or other speech acts, or a shared dialect, using that language is a more subtle reminder that you are part of the same group.
Be aware, though, that assuming common ground (when you’re not sure it really exists) is a risky strategy that may backfire – it may remind the other person of your differences. Don’t use slang or dialect features unless you actually belong to the associated group — you are likely to use it wrong, which will emphasize the lack of true connection.

Show Knowledge and Approval of Other

Knowing things about the other person is a sign that you paid attention and you cared enough to remember. If, in addition to knowledge, you show approval, appreciation, admiration, this helps cement solidarity between you.

Be careful, though: if you mention intimate things about the other person, you may appear to be a stalker whose level of interest in them is unhealthy. If you are too effusive in your appreciation of their appearance or personal qualities, it may appear to be insincere flattery.

Show Sympathy and Concern.

If someone indicates to you that they have a problem, a failure on your part to show sympathy or concern would be hugely threatening to their sense of solidarity.

Be careful, however, not to assume something is a problem, as this could cause offense. What appears to be a problem from your point of view – a physical disability, say, or getting a C on an assignment, or having a boyfriend who’s a jerk, or whatever – may not appear to be a problem to them! Likewise, your sympathy and concern should be proportionate to the actual problem: if someone is upset about getting a C on an assignment, don’t act as if they failed the class. If they failed a class, don’t act like someone just died, etc.

Use Informal Language.

People use informal language (informal vocabulary and informal pronunciations) to show that they have already established rapport with the person they’re talking to and are now comfortable, not trying to impress. This often includes slang, and may even include taboo language, as long as you know that they will not be offended by such language.)

Be aware that if your speech is too informal (especially if people think of you as someone who typically speaks very “correctly”), you may appear to be “talking down” (condescending), which may cause offense, or “posing” (trying to appear to be someone you’re not), which is typically rather uncool. The shift between more and less formal language should not be drastic!

Use Informal Terms of Address.

If someone is comfortable with you calling them by their first name or a nickname, it shows a level of acceptance, if not actual friendship. Every time you use these informal terms of address, it reminds both of you of the closeness of the relationship. Generally, people in subordinate positions (children with respect to adults, students with respect to teachers, employees with respect to bosses, etc.) have to be given explicit permission to be on such familiar terms with their superior. (We typically see asymmetrical patterns of address in these situations, with the students referring to their teacher as “Mrs. So-and-so,” but the teacher calling the students by their first names, for example.) In cases where two people are relatively equal in power, the formality level of the terms of address is generally symmetrical, but may progress from formal to less formal to downright informal as the relationship develops.

If you feel like you have become close enough to someone that you should be on a first-name basis with them, you can ask: “Do you mind if I call you (first name)?” If they are comfortable with you, they will agree, and if they have a preferred nickname, they will probably tell you to use it. If they reject your attempt to get closer, they will say something like “I’d rather you call me (title + last name)” or “I’d rather keep this on a more professional basis.”

If somebody has been using formal terms of address with you, and you wish to signal to them that you wouldn’t mind being friendlier, you can give them permission to use your first name. (Typically this would come right after they use a more formal term of address: “Oh, please, call me Mary!”, e.g.) If they are not comfortable with this, they may say something like “I don’t think I can do that,” but they may not respond directly at all, and you’ll just notice that they don’t use direct terms of address at all for a while, or continue to address you more formally.

The obvious warning here is that if you just use someone’s first name or nickname without explicit permission, you might be rebuffed. If you call someone “Peggy,” and she responds, “My name is Margaret” (or worse: “That’s Mrs. Blagg to you!”), your attempt to be positively polite has failed (and your own sense of solidarity has been threatened). Be especially careful with nicknames, even if you’ve heard other people use them: some nicknames are conferred by a particular group (family, old childhood friends, members of a sports team, etc.), and if you’re not a member of that group, you may not have the “right” to use it. Trying to invent your own nickname for someone is especially dangerous, as the other person may dislike it.

Give or Ask for Reasons and Explanations.

As long as you do not appear to be challenging them, asking someone to explain their reasons shows that you care about their thoughts and motivations. Explaining your reasons to them shows that you expect (based on the relationship between you) that they will be interested in your thought process, too.

Explaining can often take some time, so you need to be careful here of how long you go on. (See “How much to say.”) Even your nearest and dearest can only listen to so much in one chunk; conversations need to involve more give and take.

Assume or Assert Reciprocity.

Solidarity is a two-way street. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” “I know you’d do the same for me.” “That’s just what friends do for each other.”

Note that reciprocity can occur at all sorts of different levels; you don’t want to assume a level of reciprocal commitment that is incommensurate with the relationship. I might expect a really good, close friend to be willing to drive me to the hospital, wait while I have a colonoscopy performed, and drive me home again (and I would be willing to do the same for them), but I would not expect this of a new friend or a more casual friendship.

Invite, Promise, or Offer.

These speech acts assume an ongoing relationship (they all make commitments for the future), and so flatter one’s sense of belonging. If you want to invite me to your party, we’re part of the same social group, we’re friends.

Of course, while flattering to the other person’s sense of solidarity, these also may prove to be threats to your own: if the person turns your invitation or offer, you may feel rejected.


This is the riskiest strategy! If I make a joke, I’m attempting to amuse you (which shows that I like you and care about you), and I’m also assuming common ground (that we share a similar sense of humor). On the other hand, it’s hugely threatening to my own positive face, because if you are not amused, I’ll feel like an idiot (and that the assumption I made of common ground was wrong), and that I’ve wasted your time. This is why most people have developed a social (fake) laugh that is noticeably distinct from their real (honestly amused) laugh. A fake laugh sends the message that “the joke wasn’t funny, but I don’t want you to feel bad – I didn’t like the joke, but I still like you.”

In addition to the threat that your listener will not be amused, there is the larger threat that they will somehow be offended. If you tend to be a bit “tone-deaf” to politeness considerations, to what is considered “politically correct,” and/or if you have difficulty reading people’s social signals, I really wouldn’t recommend that you try to use joking as a politeness strategy. But you should be aware that even if you find someone’s joke offensive or simply not amusing and a waste of your time, they are probably doing it for what seems to them to be a good reason: to develop rapport with you.

[Again, because this is a very complex topic, you may want to jump to each exercise directly, as it becomes relevant, rather than trying to do all the reading first, and then doing all the exercises.]

Negative Politeness (Deference) Strategies

Negative Politeness (Deference) Strategies

These strategies emphasize your partner’s freedom and power. Most of the popular awareness of politeness (ritual phrases such as “please,” “thank you,” “I’m sorry,” and use of titles) shows deference. If you recognize that people are using these strategies with you, even though you do not objectively have power over them, it is likely that you are giving off an unfriendly “vibe.” If people think you wish to be left alone, they will use these strategies to avoid imposing on you. This may create a Catch-22 in which you think they’re unfriendly, and they think you’re unfriendly, so neither one makes steps to connect. Applying positive politeness strategies in these situations may repair this situation, by sending a signal of desire to be included, instead.

In general, the culture of the United States tends to care more about protecting negative face than about protecting positive face (which is quite different from, say, Mediterranean, Arab, and Latin cultures, which tend to be much more solidarity-oriented). As a result, these negative politeness strategies tend to be safer than the positive politeness strategies, and we haven’t detailed separate risks for each. The main risk with over-doing negative politeness is that you will seem to be signalling that you do not recognize a close relationship with the person you’re speaking to and do not seek to establish one.

Give Deference, using Titles and Last Names.

Some languages distinguish formal vs. informal pronouns, or have a whole system of “honorifics” for showing deference. We don’t have much of a grammatical apparatus for this in English, but we can and do use more formal terms of address (Mr. Smith, Ms. Jones, Dr. Rodriguez, Professor Shapiro, Sir, Ma’am, etc.) when speaking to people with whom we do not already have a close relationship and/or who actually do have power over us.

Let Them Keep Talking

Deferring to the other person conversationally (by letting them talk more than you) sends the message that “you’re in charge here. I recognize your superior knowledge, superior thoughts and opinions, superior stories, etc.” Typically, superiors do hold the floor longer than subordinates. If you’re speaking to someone of relatively equal status, treating that person as if they were a superior flatters their sense of power.

Use More Formal Language.

This includes more formal vocabulary and formal pronunciation, as well as “correct” (“standard”) grammar (avoiding dialects). We grow up speaking informally to our friends and families, and learn to speak more formally in school, so “formal speech” is not native to anyone and most people have to make a conscious effort to use it. Making such an effort shows deference to the people you’re speaking to, showing that you recognize that they have to the right to judge you. This is the equivalent of having your language wear formal or “business casual” clothes (depending on the degree of formality), as opposed to the positive politeness strategy of informal speech (which is like letting your language wear jeans or even sweats, depending on the degree of informality).

Avoid Assumptions of Common Ground

Don’t assume or presume anything about the person. Whereas establishing and illustrating common ground was a great way to emphasize solidarity, not doing so is a way to emphasize distance and the desire to not impose. Instead of making direct statements about the other person, use hedges (maybe, possibly, etc.) and/or ask questions. E.g., instead of “You’re a Cardinals fan” (showing your knowledge of the person), you could say, “I believe you’re a Cardinals fan, right?” or “Are you a Cardinals fan?”

Be Indirect

Be indirect about accomplishing any significant threats to the other’s sense of power and freedom. The more significant the imposition, the more indirect one should be – but be careful, also, not to waste the person’s time, because that is also an imposition!


Hedge any imposition, to show that you’re imposing as little as you can. “Can I borrow your pen for a second?” emphasizes that you’ll give the pen right back, that the person won’t have to make do without it for long. “Could you just scoot over a bit to the left?” stresses that this requires hardly any time or effort; it is a small thing to do.

Give Them an Out.

“You’ve probably already got plans, but …” or “if you’re not busy,” is a good way to begin an invitation, since it makes it easy for the invitee to say “too bad – I do already have plans.” “If it’s not too much trouble…”, “If you can….” are similar ways to introduce requests for action. “If you feel comfortable talking about it….” or “If you don’t mind telling me…” or “if it’s not a secret…” work for asking for information. If you give people a way out, they won’t feel as imposed on.

Go on Record as Incurring a Debt.

If you have to impose on someone, you can at least make it clear that you recognize the imposition and that you will be indebted to that person. “I’ll owe you one,” “I’ll pay you back as soon as I can,” etc.

Apologize for the imposition.

Some people hate to apologize because they feel it places the other person above them – but that’s the whole point of negative politeness! When you impose on them, you place yourself above them; apologizing for the imposition restores equilibrium.

[Again, because this is a very complex topic, you may want to jump to each exercise directly, as it becomes relevant, rather than trying to do all the reading first, and then doing all the exercises.]

Interpersonal vs. Informational Speech

If you use a lot of solidarity-based politeness (including a lot of informal speech), your speech will be understood as heavily interpersonal — i.e. that you’re focusing more on the relationship than on the information you’re conveying. In fact, the most extreme example of interpersonal “speech” wouldn’t even have real words, just affectionate crooning, or saying someone’s name with love, where absolutely no meaning other than affection is being conveyed. If you use hardly any solidarity-based politeness (using very formal speech), your speech will be seen as heavily informational — i.e. that you’re heavily focused on important information contained in the surface message. The most extreme example of this would be a robotic, factual report with no attention paid to audience whatsoever. (I say robotic, because most humans have to imagine some kind of audience even when focused mostly on information; even when the audience is unknown or hypothetical, we care about what they will think of us, and try to present ourselves in a positive light, in addition to conveying information.)

Of course, much of the time, we’re somewhere in the middle, trying to convey information more-or-less clearly, but also paying attention to the relationship, trying to use the right amount of politeness to show our understanding of power and solidarity.

Some people with social communication challenges (particularly those who pride themselves on being direct and blunt, hating social “chit chat”) have highly informational speech styles. Unfortunately, while this may earn them admiration as intelligent people, it also makes them seem stiff (because they don’t shift), arrogant (because they seem to think that everything they have to say is of vital importance), and unfriendly (because they don’t use enough solidarity politeness to show that they value the relationship). If you are in this category, you might consider deliberately incorporating solidarity strategies into all of your speech with people you already have a relationship with, and be willing to reciprocate when others use them with you.

Whether or not you did the written exercises earlier, there are plenty more exercises of different types waiting for you!

Scholarly Sources

The framework for this section was very heavily influenced by one particular text:  Brown, Penelope & Levinson, Stephen C. (2013 [1987]), Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge University Press.

Other scholarly texts on the subject include:

  • Birner, Betty J. (Ed.)(2012) Introduction to pragmatics. Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Lim, T. S., & Bowers, J. W. (1991). Facework: Solidarity, approbation, and tact. Human Communication Research, 17, 415–450.
  • Linguistic Politeness Research Group (Ed.)(2011). Discursive approaches to politeness. De Gruyter Mouton.
  • Peccei, Jean S. (2012). Pragmatics (language workbooks). Routledge.
  • Rawlins, William K. (2009) The Compass of Friendship. Thousand Oaks.
  • Volden, Joanne, and Autumn Sorenson. Bossy and nice requests: Varying language register in speakers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Journal of Communication Disorders 42(1): 58-73.
  • Watts, Richard J. (2003). Politeness (Key topics in sociolinguistics). Cambridge University Press.

Recommended Reading

  • Elgin, Suzette Haden. (1993 [1980]). The gentle art of verbal self-defense. Barnes & Nobles.
  • Elgin, Suzette Haden. (1997). How to disagree without being disagreeable. Wiley.
  • Holmes, Janet. (2013). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics, 4th edition. Routledge.
  • Macneil/Lehrer Productions. (2005) Communicative choices & linguistic style. Do you speak American?

    .  http://www.pbs.org/speak/education/curriculum/high/style/

  • Tannen, Deborah. (2011 [1992]). That’s not what I meant! How conversational style makes or breaks relationships. Harper Perennial.
  • Tannen, Deborah (2002). I only say this because I love you: Talking to your parents, partners, sibs, and kids when you’re all adults. Ballantine books.
  • Wardhaugh, Ronald. (2010). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. 6th ed. Wiley-Blackwell.