“Bro must got a lot of money”: A Pragmatic Study on Digitally-Based Impoliteness Strategies against Marrying a Person with Disabilities

30 May 2024
Room D1

“Bro must got a lot of money”: A Pragmatic Study on Digitally-Based Impoliteness Strategies against Marrying a Person with Disabilities

The rise of Social Media Sites (SMSs) has provided a significant breakthrough in the dissemination of information, especially for the marginalized groups of society (e.g., for their religion, ethnicity, and disability, to name a few), who now have a tool for providing counternarratives and spreading awareness on critical social issues.

Among the most oppressed populations in the Western world are Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) (Agmon et al., 2016), who have found in SMSs a (cyber)space for community building and a brand-new chance to pursue ‘disability activism’ by releasing videos, images, and posts to enhance their visibility and contrast social stigma (Sannon et al., 2023). Nevertheless, the media exposure afforded by SMSs has its drawbacks, most notably negative responses towards what is viewed as non-conforming conduct, with the anonymity feature adding to offensive behaviors that, despite being limited by social media policies, would surely be more minimized in face-to-face communication.

Compared to studies on politeness in online communication, research on impoliteness in digital platforms has recently emerged and shown the multiple roles it plays in SMSs, in particular, due to their nature, which allows users to attack other people without explicitly addressing them (Demjén & Hardaker, 2017).

Against this backdrop, this study will address a pragmatic analysis of a corpus of comments in English retrieved from a series of TikTok videos published by a famous married couple documenting their marriage and life events on the platform to promote disability awareness and equality. In particular, since the marriage involves a person with disabilities, the study, informed by Culpeper’s (1996; 2011) impoliteness model, will focus on the impoliteness strategies and their related functions employed by TikTok users to express their deprecatory viewpoints on the couple’s marriage as a response to their videos. Considering the growing scientific interest in the use of impoliteness strategies in SMSs but the lack of investigation on the TikTok platform, the study aims to contribute to the existing literature by highlighting how and which type of impoliteness strategies against PWDs are constructed in TikTok comments.



Agmon, M., Sa’ar, A., & Araten-Bergman, T. (2016). The person in the disabled body: A perspective on culture and personhood from the margins. International Journal for Equity in Health15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-016-0437-2

Culpeper, J. (1996). Towards an anatomy of impoliteness. Journal of Pragmatics25(3), 349–367. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00014-3

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

Demjén, Z., & Hardaker, C. (2017). Metaphor, impoliteness, and offence in online communication. In E. Semino & Z. Demjén (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphor and Language (pp. 353–367). Routledge.

Sannon, S., Young, J., Shusas, E., & Forte, A. (2023). Disability activism on social media: Sociotechnical challenges in the pursuit of visibility. CHI ’23: Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1145/3544548.3581333