Rudeness at 911 Reconceptualizing Face and Face Attack

Authors

  • KAREN TRACY,

    Corresponding author
    1. Karen Tracy (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1981) is a professor and Sarah J. Tracy is a doctoral student in the Communication Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
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  • SARAH J. TRACY

    1. Karen Tracy (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1981) is a professor and Sarah J. Tracy is a doctoral student in the Communication Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Versions of this article were presented to the Language and Social Interaction Division, Top 4 Panel, at the National Communication Association, Chicago, 1997, and at the Conference of the American Association of Applied Linguistics, Chicago, March 1996. The authors wish to thank Cindy Gallois and two anonymous reviewers for helpful criticism on earlier drafts of the article.

E-mail to Karen.Tracy@Colorado.Edu.

Abstract

This article analyzes two telephone calls from citizens to a 911 center in a large city in the Western United States in which call-takers became angry and attacked the face of the callers. After reviewing past theoretical conceptualizations of face and face attack, the authors analyze the calls using a facework lens. Through a close study of the discourse, the authors show the subtle and blatant ways in which vocal delivery, substance and type of selected speech acts, second pair parts, and selected stance indicators do face attack. Then, they consider how context may contribute to the call-takers' usage of these problematic conversational strategies. The article concludes by assessing how notions of face and face attack would be reconceptualized if future research adopted the grounded practical theory frame that informs this 911 case study.

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