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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents a brief overview of different types of lying behavior in relation to politeness and face-threat/face-enhancement. Although white (or prosocial) lies are most frequently discussed in this respect, a variety of behaviors, ranging from withholding information to outright malicious stating of falsehood, are also discussed. An important distinction is drawn between white lies and real lies, whereby the former’s politeness lies in one’s willingness to say something untrue even though it may (but need not) be transparent to all that one does not mean it. This paves the way for analyzing white lies as a socially constituted type of speech act, unlike real lies, which cannot be so analyzed. A crucial claim made in this chapter is that the same behavior can have contrary connotations for different participants or in different contexts, making the association between lying and im/politeness context-dependent through and through.

Keywords: white lies, face-threat, face-enhancement, speaker’s intention, context dependence

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