Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 11. Number3  September 2020                                          Pp.331-348

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Vagueness and Withholding Information in Christie’s (1926) Detective Fiction The Murder
of Roger Ackroyd: A Pragma-Stylistic Study

Safaa K. Merzah
Department of English Language and Linguistics, College of Education for Women
University of Baghdad, Iraq

Nawal F. Abbas
Department of English Language and Linguistics, College of Education for Women
University of Baghdad, Iraq




This study is intended to examine the deceptive strategies utilized in the well-renown Agatha Christie’s (1926/2002) detective fiction The Murder of Roger Ackroyd to fill a gap in the literature by conducting a pragma-stylistic analysis of the novel. To do so, the researchers have set two objectives which are phrased as follows: firstly, examining the pragma-stylistic choices that are used to surface the deceptive strategies on the character-character level in the pre-dénouement stage and secondly, investigating the pragma-stylistic choices that are used to surface the deceptive strategies on the narrator-reader level in the pre-dénouement stage. The stylistic idiosyncrasies of Christie’s Dr. Sheppard are carried out through an eclectic pragma-stylistic approach to expose his deceptive strategies for the fulfillment of his selfish ends. Therefore, the study at issue follows an eclectic conceptual framework which comprises Merzah and Abbas’s deceptive principle (2020) and Chen’s (2001) self-politeness, along with the stylistic effects achieved via the manipulation of such linguistic tools, to explore the two levels of discourse, namely, character-character level and narrator-reader level proposed by Black (2006). The qualitative analysis of the novel has exhibited that Dr. Sheppard is an expert deceiver who principally relies on indirect strategies, as he is cognizant of the power of what is insinuated but left unsaid.
KeywordsAgatha Christie, deception, pragma-stylistics, vagueness, withholding information, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Cite as: Merzah, S. K.,&  Abbas, N. F. (2020). Vagueness and Withholding Information in Christie’s (1926) Detective Fiction The Murder of Roger Ackroyd: A Pragma-Stylistic Study. Arab World English Journal11 (3) 331-348.


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Safaa K. Merzah is an M.Ed. Candidate in the Department of English Linguistics, at College of
Education for Women, University of Baghdad. She earned her B.Ed. degree from Al-Mansour
University College in 2017. The areas in which she is interested include stylistics, cognitive
science, forensic linguistics, computer software engineering, and computer science.