A Pragmalinguistic and Sociopragmatic Study of Praise and Criticism in Academic Writing: The Case of Arabic Academic Book Reviews

Awni Shati Etaywe


Given the scarce literature on the Arabic academic book reviews (BRs) and the relatively under-searched praise and criticism speech acts, this study investigates praise and criticism as reflected in the evaluative voice of Arabic academic BRs. It aims to identify the evaluated aspects, the conventional lexical resources, praise and criticism strategies, and how politeness is achieved. To this end, the non-reactive fully naturalistic approach was used to collect data from 30 academic BRs. The corpus was analyzed qualitatively, and drawn chiefly on the speech act theory, Brown and Levinson’s notion of politeness, and Leech’s maxims of politeness. Results showed that praise and criticism were for the author and the authored. Lexical resources were affective, judgmental and appreciative, and presenting formulaic evaluation. Praise was for general and specific aspects of content, style, usefulness and relevance to the field, publishing standards, readership, and author’s reputation and expertise. Criticism was for specific aspects of content and style. ‘Statement of advantages via explicit expression of attitude’ appeared as the most frequent praise strategy. Criticism was direct and mostly indirect, with marked use of mitigation devices. Approbation Maxim and Tact Maxim characterized Arabic BRs. This study provides implications for cultural pragmatics and academic writing.


praise, criticism, illocution, politeness, pragmalinguistic, sociopragmatic

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