Open Journal Systems

A critical review on the study of threatening in English

Yan Zheng, Yongfeng Zhao

Article ID: 1206
Vol 2, Issue 1, 2020, Article identifier:71-81

VIEWS - 256 (Abstract) 234 (PDF)


Despite the fact that threatening in languages is common in ordinary verbal communication, it has not received much attention from academic studies because of its “negative” nature. Muschalik’s monograph Threatening in English: A Mixed Method Approach, mainly based on the theory of Face Threatening Speech Act by Brown and Levinson (1987), takes 301 categories of threatening expressions in judicial proceedings as the corpus with qualitative and quantitative methods, brings a new perspective for pragmatic research, especially speech act research, and deepens people’s understanding of relevant issues. Initiated by Muschalik’s book Threatening in English: A Mixed Method Approach, the paper is to make a critical review on the studies of threatening in English and propose some new directions for the study of threatening in languages.


speech act; face threatening; pragmatic effect; judicial

Full Text:


Included Database


Austin JL (1962) How to Do Things with Words. The William James lectures delivered at Harvard University in 1955. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Beller S, et al. (2005) Understanding conditional promises and threats. Thinking & Reasoning 3: 209–238.

Brown P and Levinson SC (1987) Politeness: Some Universals in Language Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Culpeper J (2011) Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Fraser B (1990) Perspectives on politeness. Journal of Pragmatics 14: 219–36.

Fraser B (1998) Threatening revisited. Forensic Linguistics (The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law) 2: 159–173.

Gales T (2010) Ideologies of violence: A corpus and discourse analytic approach to stance in threatening communications. Forensic Linguistics (The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law) 2: 329–353.

Hepburn A and Potter J (2011) Threats: Power, family mealtimes, and social influence. British Journal of Social Psychology 1: 99–120.

Jucker AH (2009) Speech act research between armchair, field and laboratory: The case of compliments. Journal of Pragmatics 8: 1611–1635.

Kasper G (1994) Politeness. In: Asher RE and Simpson JMY (eds) The Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics. Oxford: Pergamon.

Kasper G (2008) 2Data collection in pragmatics research. In: Spencer-Oatey H (ed) Culturally Speaking: Culture, Communication and Politeness. London: Continuum, pp.279–303.

Leech GN (1983) Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman.

Limberg H (2009) Impoliteness and threat responses. Journal of Pragmatics 2: 1376–1394.

Muschalik J (2018) Threatening in English: A Mixed Method Approach. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Searle JR (1969) Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Solan LM and Tiersma PM (2005) Speaking of Crime: The Language of Criminal Justice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Storey K (1995) The language of threats. Forensic Linguistics (The International Journal of Speech, Language and the Law) 1: 74–80.

(256 Abstract Views, 234 PDF Downloads)


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Yan Zheng and Yongfeng Zhao