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Face attack in Italian politics: Beppe Grillo’s insulting epithets for other politicians

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict
Issue number2
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)178-201
Early online date16/12/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The second largest party in the Italian Parliament, the “5-Star Movement” is led by comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo. Grillo is well-known for a distinctive and often inflammatory rhetoric, which includes the regular use of humorous but insulting epithets for other politicians, such as Psiconano (“Psychodwarf”) for Silvio Berlusconi. This paper discusses a selection of epithets used by Grillo on his blog between 2008 and 2015 to refer to Berlusconi and three successive centre-left leaders. We account for the functions of the epithets in terms of Spencer-Oatey’s (2002, 2008) multi-level model of “face” and of Culpeper’s (2011) “entertaining” and “coercive” functions of impoliteness. We suggest that our study has implications for existing models of face and impoliteness and for an understanding of the evolving role of verbal aggression in Italian politics.

Bibliographic note

This article has been accepted for publication in Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2016, pages: 178 –201, © 2016 John Benjamins, the publisher should be contacted for permission to re-use the material in any form.