Yes Sir! An Analysis of the Superior/Subordinate Relationship in the Late Ramesside Letters

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Abstract

In her 1994 article entitled ‘Idiolects in the Late Ramesside Letters’, Deborah Sweeney hypothesises that all choices made in the construction of personal letters are reflective of individual language variance. Such a statement places the motivation and construction of letters onto the individual, and, although Sweeney did, to a certain extent, further develop her views on politeness in her 2001 monograph, the idea that politeness is representative of individual language variance has not directly been addressed. This study will demonstrate that the Late Ramesside Letters reflect embedded linguistic mechanisms in order to ensure successful communication between interlocutors that is not dependent
on personal language variance. The superior social position of the General Piankh at the end of the Twentieth Dynasty will be utilised to demonstrate the benefits of politeness theory in identifying linguistic patterns in the letters, patterns that support and maintain social relationships between superiors
and their subordinates. Politeness theory is based on the notion of ‘face’, and how an individual’s public persona must be adhered to in communication in order to reduce the level of imposition; this is especially significant in biased relationships. Predominately this study will focus on the relationship between Piankh and the Scribe of the Necropolis Dhutmose due to the amount of surviving documents between the pair, to view the linguistic manifestation of their superior/subordinate relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-206
Number of pages26
JournalLingua Aegyptia: Journal of Egyptian Language Studies
Volume21
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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