Impoliteness strategies at a Jordanian hospital Emergency Room

  • Ghaleb Rabab’ah University of Jordan
  • Rajai R. Al-Khanji University of Jordan
  • Muradi Bataineh Jordan University Hospital


Impoliteness as a natural phenomenon is observed in many face-to-face encounters. It is employed to cause offense and attack the face of the hearer and sometimes over-hearers. One of the researchers who was working at the University of Jordan Hospital noticed that patients and/or their relatives use verbal and nonverbal impolite behaviour when addressing the hospital staff and doctors. In order to investigate the various strategies utilised by Arabic speaking patients and/or their relatives to express impoliteness towards the Emergency Room (ER) staff at a Jordanian hospital, observation and note-taking were used to collect the impolite instances for a period of 30 days during April 2014. A total of 100 face-to-face interactions, which included impolite expressions were collected. The results of the study showed that the patients and their relatives used 208 impoliteness instances while interacting with the admin staff, nurses and doctors. The most used strategy of impoliteness was ‘bald on record impoliteness’ followed by ‘negative impoliteness’, ‘positive impoliteness’, ‘sarcasm or mock politeness’ and ‘withhold politeness’. The study concludes that the various types and strategies of impoliteness used by the patients and/or their relatives were aiming at offending and threatening the face of the hospital staff and doctors, and this behaviour, as observed in the various interactions that took place, could be attributed to their dissatisfaction of the health care services provided.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Ghaleb Rabab’ah, University of Jordan

Ghaleb Rabab’ah is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Jordan and the University of Sharjah. He has published many papers in discourse analysis, pragmatics, and translation in international journals, such as the Journal of Pragmatics, Poznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, Journal of Politeness Research, and Research in Language. He supervised and examined many MA theses and Ph.D. dissertations. He can be reached at: or

Rajai R. Al-Khanji, University of Jordan

Rajai R. Al-Khanji is Professor at the University of Jordan, Amman. He teaches a wide variety of linguistic and translation courses. As a researcher, he has written articles in English and Arabic in both national and international journals, on various topics related to applied linguistics. He is called upon frequently to evaluate research, co-organize conferences, and give lectures globally.

He can be reached at:

Muradi Bataineh, Jordan University Hospital

Muradi Bataineh holds an MA in Linguistics from the University of Jordan. She is a translator and a supervisor at the ER of Jordan University Hospital. Her research interest is discourse analysis.

She can be reached at: