Apology or Non- apology: An Interfacial Approach to the Discourse Analysis of Official Apologies in the Iranian Media

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor, Linguistics Department, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.


Apology has been mostly studied from a pragmatics standpoint and as a frequent speech act, especially in Persian language. This paper, however, aims at a discourse analysis of apology, taking as its framework, the interdisciplinary approach introduced in Lakoff (2015). The data are collected form official apologies in the Iranian media between 2015- 2018. The results show that firstly, without taking an interdisciplinary stance many interactional aspects of this speech act is neglected. This is because apology is one of the face- saving speech acts in the representation of which contextual and interpersonal factors, and the speaker’s and addressee’s perspective play an important role in the ways preferred by the speaker to apologize. Moreover the nature of public and political discourse multiplies the complexities and forces the speakers get the benefit of all linguistic and extra- linguistic means at different levels to achieve their communicative goals. Secondly, the prototypical explicit apologies in public discourse are rare, so that most of the cases studied are instances of non- apology rather than apology. The reason behind this fact can be traced back to the nature of public and political discourses in which apology would bring about negative consequences for the apologizer. Also, one of the main presuppositions of this speech act is that the apologizer implicitly accepts the responsibility of the wrongdoing and her reluctance to apologize explicitly in public and political discourse is a conscious or unconscious attempt to avoid the negative consequences of shouldering the responsibilities in these formal settings. Accordingly, different representations of apology can be placed somewhere on a continuum with prototypical apology at one end and non- apology at the other one. This paves the way for considering apology as a radial category at the level of discourse and for adding a cognitive level of analysis to the framework at hand.


Main Subjects

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Volume 11, Issue 2
February 2021
Pages 73-95
  • Receive Date: 12 July 2020
  • Revise Date: 24 July 2020
  • Accept Date: 19 November 2020
  • First Publish Date: 22 December 2020