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Lecture | LUCL Sociolinguistics Series 2022/2023

The smoes under scrutiny

Friday 12 May 2023
Sociolinguistics & Discourse Studies Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


The smoes (roughly comparable to the insincere excuse) is a subject that has not been researched before. In the absence of an English word for it, I use the Dutch term. The overall objective of my research is: pragmatic positioning of the smoes. The smoezen are compared to research on related words like excuse, justification, apology, and argument/fallacy. In general, considering its insincere nature, the theory on deception and self-deception is included.

In order to explore smoes use in the Dutch society, actual smoezen have been collected most of the year 2022. First analysis of the smoes dataset covered two fields of interest. The first field covers form and function of the smoes, with topics like the form (assertive or otherwise), the areas of application (like remedial or request denial), and ‘special cases’ like a prosocial smoes, a bullshit smoes, or a joke as a smoes.

The second field is about smoes use success. In the collection, a total of 39 were accepted, and 6 were rejected. This imbalance may be inherent to the collection process, but there are theoretical indications on ‘acceptance’ that suggest it is a broader phenomenon.

The presentation finishes with a prioritization of future research. A limitation in all future research is the issue of cognitive focus of the hearer, and the chances that the hearer only partially processes the smoes content, or not at all. If that be the case, the dataset cannot be representative for the smoezen used.

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