Investigating (Im)politeness in Cyber Blackmail’s Emails: A pragmatic Study

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Noor Saad Sabri Al Asfer, Asst. Prof. Dr. Haider Kadhim Bairmani


There is little background available about Cyber Blackmail as a crime conducted in the space of the internet, especially for the linguistic techniques and strategies used by cyber blackmailers to convince their victims to comply with their demands. At preliminary thought, blackmailing emails might be thought of constructed out of impoliteness strategies. Yet, this is not always the case. Concerning linguistic theories, it is believed that pragmatics seems very important for revealing the way cyber blackmailers commit crimes. Hence, employing relevant pragmatic strategies might help analyze their messages and consequently the way they commit their crimes. The current study attempts to remedy the lack of attention to cyber blackmail. No study, to the researcher’s best knowledge, is conducted in examining the linguistic devices of cyber blackmail, though most of the attention is placed on the legal as well as the technological methods. This study aims at investigating the types of cyber blackmail, identifying blackmailers’ pragmatic strategies, and determining whether blackmailers tend to be polite or impolite in addressing their victims. It is hypothesized that most of the cases studied are of webcam (sextortion) blackmail and that cyber blackmailers employ politeness and impoliteness strategies, in which blackmailers rely on politeness strategies in addressing their victims. To achieve the study’s aim and examine the hypotheses’ validity, the researcher reviewed the literature of cyber blackmail, collected the study’s data, i.e., emails, and developed an eclectic model to conduct the study. The study concluded that blackmailers utilize (im)politeness strategies heavily to convince and gain victims’ compliance, where blackmailers employ politeness strategies more than impoliteness ones in introducing face-threatening acts.

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