Led On Line
Presentazione - About us
Novita' - What's new
Lededizioni Home Page Ricerca - Search
Catalogo - Catalogue
Per contattarci - Contacts
Per gli Autori - For the Authors
Statistiche - Statistics
Cookie Policy
Privacy Policy

Danza, lingua e potere: (s)cortesia ne La dodicesima notte di Shakespeare

Fabio Ciambella


Dance in Elizabethan and Jacobean England was a practice closely linked to the notion of power, understood both from a political point of view – especially in relation to courtly dances – and from a gender perspective – as regards popular dances in particular. The purpose of this article is to conduct a linguistic analysis of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night 1.3, where two secondary characters, Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Sir Toby Belch, compete for the woman they both love – countess Olivia – by displaying absurd terpsichorean skills. With the support of conversation analysis and cognitive linguistics, this article underlines how the concept of power (intended both as man-man and man-woman relationship) is expressed at the linguistic level with a series of lexical and morphosyntactic strategies in the discourse about Renaissance dances.


dance; power; (im)politeness; Twelfth Night; pragmatics

Full Text:



Austin, John L. 1962. How to Do Things with Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Bate, Jonathan, and Erik Rasmussen (eds.). 2007. William Shakespeare: Complete Works. Houndmills: Macmillan (The Royal Shakespeare Company).

Bousfield, Derek E. 2008. “Impoliteness in the Struggle for Power”. In Impoliteness in Language: Study on Its Interplay with Power in Theory and Practice. Ed. by Derek E. Bousfield and Miriam A. Locher, 127-54. Berlin - New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Brandt, Line. 2015. “Dance as Dialogue: Metaphorical Conceptualization and Semantic Domains”. Sémiotique de la musique 6: 231-49. https://doi.org/10.4000/signata.1087.

Brown, Penelope, and Stephen C. Levinson. 1978. “Universals in Language Usage: Politeness Phenomena”. In Questions and Politeness: Strategies in Social Interaction. Ed. by Esther N. Goody, 56-310. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brown, Penelope, and Stephen C. Levinson. 1987. Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Brown, Roger, and Albert Gilman. 1960. “The Pronouns of Power and Solidarity”. In Style in Language. Ed. by Thomas A. Sebeok, 252-81. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Bruti, Silvia. 2013. La scortesia. Aspetti culturali e problemi traduttivi. Pisa: Pisa University Press.

Butler, Martin. 1998. “Courtly Negotiation”. In The Politics of the Stuart Court Masque. Ed. by David Bevington and Peter Holbrook, 20-40. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Butler, Martin. 2012. “The Court Masque”. The Cambridge Works of Ben Jonson Online. http://universitypublishingonline.org/cambridge/benjonson/k/essays/court_msq_essay/1/ (03/01/2020).

Calvetti, Paolo. 2014. “Il linguaggio della scortesia. Meccanismi e strategie della ‘lingua piu difficile del mondo’”. In Variazioni di temi di Fosco Maraini. A cura di Andrea Maurizi e Bonaventura Ruperti, 293-315. Roma: Aracne.

Castiglione, Baldassarre. 1528. Il libro del cortegiano. Venezia: Gabriel Giolito de’ Ferrari.

Ciambella, Fabio. 2017. “There was a star danced”. Danza e rivoluzione copernicana nel canone shakespeariano. Roma: Carocci.

Culpeper, Jonathan. 1996. “Towards an Anatomy of Impoliteness”. Journal of Pragmatics 25: 349-67. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00014-3.

Del Villano, Bianca. 2018. Using the Devil with Courtesy. Shakespeare and the Language of (Im)politeness. Berlin: Peter Lang.

Elam, Keir (ed.). 2008. The Arden Shakespeare. Twelfth Night. London - New York: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare.

Goffman, Erving. 1967. Interaction Ritual: Essays in Face-to-Face Behavior. Chicago: Aldine.

Grice, Herbert P. 1975. “Logic and Conversation”. In Syntax and Semantics: Speech Acts, Volume 3. Ed. by Peter Cole and Jerry L. Morgan, 41-58. New York: Academic Press.

Hamilton, Donna B. 1992. Shakespeare and the Politics of Protestant England. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.

Hoby, Thomas. 1561. The Courtyer of Count Baldessar Castilio Divided into Foure Bookes. London: Wyllyam Seres.

Hope, Jonathan. 2003. Shakespeare’s Grammar. London - New York: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare.

Howard, Skiles. 1998. The Politics of Courtly Dancing in Early Modern England. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Lakoff, Robin T. 1973. “The Logic of Politeness: Or, Minding Your P’s and Q’s”. In Papers from the 9th Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. Ed. by Claudia Corum, T. Cedric Smith-Stark, and Ann Weiser, 292-305. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.

Leech, Geoffrey. 1983. Principle of Pragmatics. London - New York: Longman.

Lombardo, Agostino (a cura di). 2004. William Shakespeare. La dodicesima notte. Milano: Feltrinelli.

Lothian, John M., and Thomas W. Craik (eds.). (1975) 2000. The Arden Shakespeare. Twelfth Night. London: Methuen.

Mullini, Roberta. 1979. “‘Cortesia’ e ‘onestà’ in The Importance of Being Earnest”. Spicilegio moderno 12: 149-58.

Orgel, Stephen. 1975. The Illusion of Power: Political Theater in the English Renaissance. Berkley - Los Angeles: California University Press.

Pearce, Robert R. 1848. History of the Inns of Court and Chancery: With Notices of Their Ancient Discipline, Rules, Orders, and Customs, Readings, Moots, Masques, Revels, and Entertainments. London: R. Bentley.

Pinton, Damiano. 2016. “(Im)politeness nel giapponese contemporaneo e Discourse Politeness Theory: Meccanismi e applicazioni. Analisi di un campione di un terebi dorama”. Tesi di laurea magistrale. Venezia: Università Ca’ Foscari. http://dspace.unive.it/bitstream/handle/10579/8858/822966-1173781.pdf?sequence=2 (28/03/2020).

Proudfoot, Richard, Ann Thompson, and David S. Kastan (eds.). 2011. Shakespeare. Complete Works. London - New York: Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare.

Searle, John. 1969. Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Serianni, Luca, e Giuseppe Antonelli. 2011. Manuale di linguistica italiana. Storia, attualità, grammatica. Milano: Mondadori.

Taylor, Gary, John Jowett, Terry Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (eds.). 2016. The New Oxford Shakespeare. The Complete Works: Modern Critical Edition. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wartenberg, Thomas E. 1990. The Forms of Power: From Domination to Transformation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Watts, Richard J. 1991. Power in Family Discourse. Berlin - New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Winerock, Emily F. 2011. “‘Performing’ Gender and Status on the Dance Floor in Early Modern England”. In Worth and Repute: Valuing Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Ed. by Kim Kippen and Lori Woods, 451-75. Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies Publications.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ling-2020-002-ciam

Copyright (©) 2021 Fabio Ciambella – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Linguæ & - Rivista di lingue e culture moderne
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (06/04/2012 n. 185)
Online ISSN 1724-8698 - Print ISSN 2281-8952

Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione, Studi Umanistici e Internazionali: Storia, Culture, Lingue, Letterature, Arti, Media
Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo

Editor-in-Chief: Roberta Mullini
Editorial Board: Maurizio Ascari - Stefano Beretta - Antonio Bertacca- Tania Collani - Chiara Elefante - Marina Guglielmi - Maryline Heck - Richard Hillman - Reinhard Johler - Stephen Knight - Cesare Mascitelli - Sonia Massai - Aurélie Moioli - Maria de Fátima Silva - Bart Van Den Bossche 

Editorial Staff: Margaret Amatulli - Alessandra Calanchi - Riccardo Donati - Ivo Klaver  - Massimiliano Morini - Antonella Negri - Luca Renzi

Referee List

© 2001 LED Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto