The Pragmatics of Diminutives in Iraqi Arabic


This study examines the pragmatic functions of diminutives in Iraqi Arabic ( henceforth IA). The data of this study has been processed according to the politeness theory of Brown and Levinson (1978). Analysis of data that occurs naturally from the use of diminutives shows that, as an extension of their main use with children, diminutives in IA have taken on pragmatic functions to express contempt, demonstrate passion and love, intensify speaker's feelings, reduce imposition, avoid boasting, and enhance social relationships in ironic situations. The eccentric use of diminutives in IA is to moderate insult caused through marking diminutive on names in hostile situations. It is realized that the formulae are primarily supportive of the listener, and enhance the power of speech in positive politeness situations while reducing the power of speech in negative politeness situations. Thus, the diminutive is utilised as a positive politeness strategy, inclined towards demonstrating emotion and compassion, and creating a cordial atmosphere for communication, and as a negative politeness strategy in order to reduce the imposition and mitigate negative utterances. These pragmatic functions reflect the role of diminutive formulae in IA as a tool used to distinguish, create, or confirm social interactions