The register of betrayal


Beware of an increase in politeness, it could be that it foreshadows trechery. That is the message conveyed in an interesting analysis of discourse that was taken from a corpus of communications in the online game ‘Diplomacy’. The full study, conducted by Nicula, Kumar, Boyd-Graber and Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil indicates that there are certain clues and cues embedded in the use of language that stand as a precursor to betrayal. The three main indicators are an increase in politeness, positivity or, for the victims, planning. Ring any (alarm) bells?