Historical changes in politeness norms: Are Finnish and French conceptions of politeness moving closer to each other?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Although French courtly models spread to Europe, little research has compared the development of politeness in France with more remote European linguacultures. To fill this gap, I examine folk understandings of historical politeness in Finnish and French linguacultures. Concentrating on cultural outsiders’ own understandings – that is, French people living in Finland and Finns who live or have lived in France – my study lies within the framework of a discursive approach, and draws upon data from five focus-group discussions and their dialogical discourse analysis. My study shows that the different forms of government, levels of urbanisation and branches of Christianity reportedly influenced differences in Finnish and French politeness. Yet, during participants’ stays in these respective countries, an affinity towards politeness was described as stemming from globalisation. Future research should examine if the frames of expectations of politeness in Europe are generally moving closer towards one another.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of historical pragmatics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)198–216
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Bibliographical note

Special Issue Politeness in and across Historical Europe (eds. Annick Paternoster, Gudrun Held & Dániel Z. Kádár).

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages
  • (im)politeness
  • Finland
  • France
  • Focus groups
  • Historicity
  • Intercultural

Cite this