Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 12. Number4 December 2021                                    Pp. 224-242

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Aggressive Language in Literature: A Pragmatic Approach 

Hanan Abdul-kareem Kadhim
Department of English
College of Education For Women, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq 

Wafaa Sahib Mehdi Mohammed
Department of English
College of Education for Women, University of Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq
Corresponding Author:


 Received: 10/15/2021                        Accepted: 11/15/2021             Published:12/15/2021


Abstract :
Aggression is a negative form of an anti-social behavior. It is produced because of  a particular reason, desire, want, need, or due to the psychological state of the aggressor. It injures others physically or psychologically. Aggressive behaviors in human interactions cause discomfort and disharmony among interlocutors. The paper aims to identify how aggressive language manifests itself in the data under scrutiny in terms of the pragmatic paradigm. Two British literary works are the data; namely, Look Back in Anger by John Osborne (1956), and The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter (1957). This paper endeavors to answer the question of how aggressive language is represented in literature pragmatically? It is hoped to be significant to linguistic and psychological studies in that it clarifies how aggression is displayed in human communications linguistically. Qualitative and quantitative analyses are conducted to verify the findings. It ends with some concluding remarks, the most important of which are: insulting, belittling, ridiculing and threatening are prevalent speech acts; simile, hyperbole, metaphor and repetition appear due to Grice’s maxims breaching while the use of taboo words, calling names, or abusive words are the impoliteness strategies that are distinguished in the data.
Keywords: aggression, literary plays, Look Back in Anger, Grice maxims, pragmatics, The Birthday Party, types of communication

Cite as:  Kadhim, H.A., & Mohammed, W. S. M.  (2021). Aggressive Language in Literature: A Pragmatic Approach.
Arab World English Journal, 12 (4) 224-242.



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Received: 10/15/2021 
Accepted: 11/15/2021
Published: 12/15/2021

Hanan Abdul-kareem Kadhim is an MA student at the College of Education for Women/ Department of English. Her interest is in pragmatics and discourse analysis. ORCID:

Wafaa Sahib Mehdi Muhammed (Ph.D.) is a faculty member at the University of Baghdad/College of Education for Women/ Department of English. Her major is pragmatics and critical studies. She has published more than twenty articles in local and international academic journals. ORCID: