The discourse marker now in a cross-linguistic perspective

As highly context-sensitive and multifunctional phenomena discourse markers are challenging not only from a monolingual perspective but also cross-linguistically. One of such markers is a semantically elusive English lexeme now, shown in this paper to defy easy translation into Polish.

While on some occasions the marker now can be reproduced in Polish by means of its immediate equivalent teraz (which is not an etymological cognate, but like now has both temporal and discursive uses), on others it is not possible and different translation counterparts have to be provided. In the examined data these include, among others: natomiast ‘whereas’, zaraz (zaraz) ‘wait a second; let me think’, (no) dobra ‘righto’, przecież ‘why’ (interjection), słuchaj ‘listen’, jak wiesz ‘as you know’, as illustrated with the following examples:

  1. In LA, you can't do anything unless you drive. Now I can't do anything unless I drink. (Money by M. Amis)

     ‘W LA niczego nie zdziałasz, jeżeli nie prowadzisz samochodu. Natomiast ja niczego nie zdziałam, jeżeli przedtem się nie napiję.’ (Forsa; translated by Krzysztof Zabłocki)

  1. “I know that,” said Andy, “but don’t ever use it again. Or any other of your funny voices. Okay? Now.” He took a hand­ful of pills (…).(Dead Babies by M. Amis)

     ‘– Wiem – rzekł Andy. – Ale nigdy więcej tak nie mów. Ani żadnym z tych twoich „śmiesznych głosów”. Okej? No dobra. – Wyjął garść pigułek (…).’ (Martwe dzieci; translated by Zbigniew Batko)

Based on the assumption that a cross-linguistic approach may be helpful in elucidating the complex nature of now, the present study aims to take a closer look at all Polish equivalents of the English marker available in the examined material and to see how their semantic makeup may sharpen our understanding of various contextually nuanced uses of now.

Due to lack of electronic parallel corpora suitable for the present purposes, the data for the study come from a manually compiled, unidirectional mini-corpus of Polish translations of the marker now, as used in two works of fiction written by Martin Amis, namely Dead Babies and Money. Since both temporal and discursive instances of now were found here, they had to be carefully separated by hand. The corpus consists of ca. 150 occurrences of the English marker and its Polish renditions.

The impact of the nature of interaction during stay in France on the use of the tu and vous forms of address

The acquisition of tu and vous forms of address in French L2 is said to be facilitated by the amount and frequency of contact with French Natives. (Dewaele, 2002, 2004, Belz & Kinginger, 2002). These studies concentrate only on student interaction with French natives. However, during study abroad, students do not only interact with French natives. Using an adapted version of the Language Contact Profile, we found out that Ghanaian French Learners during a 10-month stay in France engage in four different nature of interactions during study abroad:

a) French with native speakers

b) French with fellow Ghanaian students (likely to code switch between English and Twi)

c) French with other non-native speakers (other French learners on stay abroad)

d) English/Twi with fellow Ghanaian students

This study explores the effect of nature of interaction on the appropriate use of two variants of you in French during a stay in France by 12 Ghanaian French learners having previously acquired languages that only have a single second person pronoun (example: wo in Twi, you in English). Spoken data was elicited from role-play tasks that were conducted before and after the study abroad by me, the researcher. The nature of interaction and use were subjected to qualitative analysis and the use compared to a control group of 9 native French speakers. The results show that appropriate use of the address pronouns is not only linked to interaction with French natives.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Belz, J. and Kinginger, C. (2002) The cross-linguistic development of address form use in telecollaborative language learning: Two case studies. Canadian Modern Language Review 59 (2), 189-214.

Dewaele, J.-M. (2002) Variation, chaos et système en interlangue française. Acquisition et interaction en langue étrangère 17, 143-167.

Dewaele, J.-M. (2004b) Vous or tu? Native and non-native speakers of French on a sociolinguistic tightrope. IRAL 42 (4), 383-402.

Empathie et réconfort en français et en japonais :

autour de quelques formes ritualisées

Certaines pratiques communicatives se concrétisent dans des rituels de politesse plus ou moins marqués culturellement. À cet égard, la perspective selon laquelle chaque communauté linguistique perçoit et interprète une situation joue un rôle déterminant. L’expression de l’excuse ou le recours à des tournures bénéfactives sont ainsi la traduction d’un positionnement subjectif du locuteur vis-à-vis de la situation. Tel est également le cas des formules d’encouragement destinées à exprimer de l’empathie qui, en français, se manifestent sous des formes moins diversifiées qu’en japonais où elles constituent une catégorie de salutations à part entière (negirai). Il en découle pour l’apprenant de français, langue étrangère (FLE) et pour celui de japonais, langue étrangère (JLE), certaines difficultés d’emploi susceptibles de malentendus pouvant être imputables à l’absence de certaines formules dans l’une des langues (source ou cible), à une mise en correspondance inadéquate de certaines tournures lors du passage d’une langue à l’autre, ou encore à la méconnaissance de leurs contextes d’utilisation. Mais quelles sont exactement  ces formules et dans quelles situations les rencontre-t-on ? En outre, quel traitement leur est-il réservé dans les manuels de FLE et de JLE ?

Dans cette communication, on se propose de dresser un état des lieux de la façon dont se présentent, dans des échanges quotidiens en français et en japonais, les formes ritualisées d’expression destinées à manifester sa reconnaissance ou son empathie vis-à-vis de l’allocutaire ou du destinataire pour l’effort qu’il a fait, afin de l’encourager, de le réconforter. Il s’agira de mesurer la place accordée par chacune des communautés à ces formules en tenant compte de leurs contextes de réalisation. On s’intéressera également aux fonctions communicatives secondaires (remerciement, salutation d’entrée en relation ou de prise de congé etc.) dérivées de ces salutations. En prenant appui sur un corpus de documents oraux et écrits produits en français et en japonais, on montrera que si des actes proches de ceux du japonais existent en français (Vous vous êtes donné/e bien de la peine ; quelle peine vous vous êtes donné/e ; etc.), la place qu’ils occupent dans cette langue et culture est de moindre importance au regard de celle du japonais et sont, de plus, moins ritualisés.

Kuramochi M., 2011, “Transition of ‘Gokurou’”, Meikai Japanese language journal 16, 13–21.

Matsumoto Y., 1988, “Reexamination of the universality of face: Politeness Phenomena in Japanese”, Journal of Pragmatics 12, 403-426.

Miller L., 2011, “Behavior That Offends, Comics and Other Images of Incivility”, in Bardsley J. & Miller L., Manners and Mischief, Gender, Power, and Etiquette in Japan, Berkeley, Los Angeles, University of California Press, 219-250.                  

Mizutani O., Mizutani N., 1988, Nihongo notes 2 – Expressing oneself in japanese, Tokyo, The Japan Times

Interlanguage complaints in interaction: The construction of speakers’ support from a multimodal conversation analysis approach  

It is widely accepted that communication is multimodal by nature, which implies that people employ not only linguistic resources but also extra-linguistic resources such as head movement, face expressions, gaze, gestures, among others, to communicate (Jewitt, 2013). The multimodal nature of communication becomes more evident when it comes to face-to-face interaction. Broadly speaking, in face-to-face interaction, speakers, both the speaker and the listener, have at their disposal several linguistic and extra-linguistic resources which allow them to communicate and show signals of active listenership or support (including for example backchannels (Knight, 2011) and simultaneous talk (Fernández-Amaya, 2013). Although multimodal analysis approaches are typically followed to study authentic interaction (Norris, 2011), they can be also applied to examine language learners' spoken production. Particularly, in following a multimodal conversation analysis (CA) approach (Mondada, 2008) to the study of interlanguage pragmatics researchers may explore how learners of English as a foreign/second language construct talk over the course of a conversation. This analysis may enable researchers to examine the sequential organisation of spoken data during a conversation from a verbal and non-verbal perspective. The purpose of this study is to explore how learners construct talk in a role-play task involving a complaint situation. The audio-visual interlanguage pragmatic corpus studied consists of 32 face-to-face interactions elicited by learners of English as a foreign language at two different proficiency levels, B1 and B2 (CEFR) (L3= English). Following a multimodal CA approach (Mondada, 2008), I attempt to explore how learners construct talk, perform backchannel and simultaneous talk, and how different extra-linguistic resources, i.e. head movement, face expressions, gaze, and gestures, are employed to reveal such support.

Fernández-Amaya, L. (2013). Simultaneous speech in American English and Spanish telephone closings. In I. Kecskes and J. Romero-Trillo (Eds.). Research Trends in Intercultural Pragmatics (136-180). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Jewitt, C. (2013). An introduction to multimodality. In Jewitt, C. (Ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Multimodal Analysis (15-30). London: Routledge.

Knight, D. (2011). Multimodality and Active Listenership: A Corpus Approach. London: Continuum.

Mondada, L. (2008). Doing video for a sequential and multimodal analysis of social interaction: Videotaping institutional telephone. calls. FQS (Forum: Qualitative Social Research) 9 (3).

Norris, S. (2011). Identity in (inter)action: Introducing Multimodal (inter)action Analysis. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

“That’s what I mean!” – Repair in English as a lingua franca interaction between Tanzanian and German school students

While interlocutors generally prioritize the ensuring of understanding over a progress of content (Schegloff, Jefferson & Sacks 1977), interaction in English as a lingua franca (ELF) has repeatedly been found to show unexpectedly few interruptions (House 2010, Cogo 2010). This is mainly attributed to the use of proactive strategies and the ‘let-it-pass’-principle, which ELF participants employ to keep their conversation smooth and their rapport good. This paper will, however, show and explore an abundance of repair mechanisms at work in ELF interaction between Tanzanian and German school students.

Data are taken from a corpus of 48 audio-recorded face-to-face dialogues between advanced secondary school students from Tanzania and Germany. The data are explored from a conversationanalytic perspective, triangulated by insights from questionnaires, ethnographic field notes and qualitative interviews.

The paper will outline how students, against the backdrop of reportedly positive relationships and a subjectively experienced smoothness of talk, employ various repair mechanisms, both self- and other-initiated, covering the full continuum between implicit and explicit strategies (Clift 2016). While in accordance with general findings (Schegloff et al. 1977) it is self-repair which prevails in the data presented, interlocutors are also found to be conspicuously open to other-repair, which is otherwise mostly avoided for the risk of face loss. Reasons and consequences of this pragmatically noticeable behavior will be viewed in the context of major interactional functions: the management of meaning and rapport and the (co-)construction of identity.

References

Clift, Rebecca. 2016. Conversation analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cogo, Alessia. 2010. Accomodating difference in ELF conversations: A study of pragmatic strategies. In Mauranen, Anna and Elina Ranta (ed.), English as a lingua franca: Studies and findings, 1st edn., 254–273. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

House, Juliane. 2010. The Pragmatics of English as a lingua franca. In Anna Trosborg (ed.), Pragmatics across languages and cultures (Handbooks of pragmatics 7). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Schegloff, Emanuel, Gail Jefferson and Harvey Sacks. 1977. The preference for self-correction in the organization of repair in conversation. Language 53 (2). 361–382.

Intensificazione e attenuazione proposizionale nei dibattiti elettorali in Francia, Italia e Romania

Spesso strategia comunicativa che prevede fini pragmatici precisi come la costruzione dell’ethos, l’attacco dell’avversario, la cortesia oppure l’ironia, la selezione dei hedges, ossia delle parole che rendono il discorso più impreciso o meno impreciso (Lakoff 1973 [1972]), rappresenta un elemento di alta rilevanza nella comunicazione politica.

Appoggiandosi sulla suddivisione proposta da Prince, Frader e Bosk (1982) e ripresa in Kaltenböck/Mihatsch/Schneider (2010) e Fraser (2010) in modificatori proposizionali della qualità e della quantità, quest’analisi propone lo studio del ruolo pragmatico dei modificatori del contenuto proposizionale nel discorso politico, nella varietà diamesica del parlato rappresentata dai faccia a faccia elettorali per la presidenza della Repubblica tra candidati in Francia, Italia e Romania, nel periodo 1974-2017.

Il punto di partenza dell’analisi è l’effetto di alterazione del contenuto proposizionale e la sua interpretazione pragmatica, che porta all’individuazione e alla classificazione dei mezzi linguistici attraverso i quali l’informazione trasmessa si modifica sull’asse qualitativo, con modificatori che agiscono da adattatori categoriali. Il contenuto informativo può essere modificato anche sull’asse quantitativo, ad esempio tramite arrotondanti di intervallo, prova di un’informazione poco precisa, ma anche strategia per indirizzare l’attenzione degli ascoltatori verso un’altra parte del messaggio e non sul numero preciso.

Al di là delle scelte comunicative di singoli candidati, lo studio contrastivo mette in risalto certe costanti come la distribuzione degli attenuatori che inducono vaghezza nei tentativi di salvare la propria immagine oppure degli intensificatori nell’attacco dell’avversario.

Fraser, Bruce, 2010. “Pragmatic competence: the case of hedging”, in : Gunther Kaltenböck / Wiltrud Mihatsch / Stefan Schneider (eds), New Approaches to Hedging, Bingley (UK), Emerald Group Publishing, 15-34.

Kaltenböck, Gunther / Mihatsch, Wiltrud / Schneider, Stefan, 2010. “Introduction” to New Approaches to Hedging, Bingley (UK), Emerald Group Publishing, 1-13.

Kerbrat-Orecchioni, Katherine, 2017. Les débats de l’entre-deux-tours des élections présidentielles françaises. Constantes et évolutions d'un genre, Paris, L’Harmattan.

Lakoff, George, 1973 [1972]. “Hedges: A Study in Meaning Criteria and the Logic of Fuzzy Concepts”, Journal of Philosophical Logic 2, 458-508.

Prince, Ellen / Frader, Joel / Bosk, Charles, 1982. “On hedging in physician-physician discourse”, in: Robert Di Pietro (ed.), Linguistics and the Professions. Proceedings of the Second Annual Delaware Symposium on Language Studies, Norwood (NJ): Ablex, 83–97.

A Comparative Study on Anglicisms in German and Dutch Newspapers

Polemically, one could argue that Continental Europe is united in the discussion on whether there are too many Anglicisms in the different nations’ respective languages. This discussion can be found in Spain, France, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden, to name but a few. The question, however, is whether this is really the case - or whether we just find an unspecific and unrelated fear of cultural dominance in regard of the Anglo-American world.

In Germany, for example, about two to four per cent of the German vocabulary derives from English (Stickel 2001; Eisenberg 2011), which can be found most notably in the context of, for example, advertising, fashion, economics, engineering, and computer sciences - areas where the German language was not developed specifically or where current trends derive from the Anglo-Saxon world (Zifonun 2002). If you look at vocabulary not from these spheres, but from everyday language, you might even find numbers at the lower section of these finds. Indeed, Gisela Zifonun argues that one has to deal with a “felt influence” (“gefühlter Einfluss”; Zifonun 2002: 3). The situation as well as the discussions in regard of Dutch are similar (for an overview of publications on the - real or felt - influence of English on Dutch, see s.a. 2017).

We thus want to examine how many English words are really used in everyday’s German or Dutch. Our material derives from two of the most-sold newspapers in the quality sector of Germany and the Netherlands (Süddeutsche Zeitung and de Volkskrant), assuming that a journalistic language aims to be understood by many people (as newspapers, being commercial products that have to be sold, must be understood by the target audience that buys them) - and therefore reflects everyday language. We regard as anglicisms all words that came from English to German or Dutch since the codification of the respective language standard in the 16th century.

Our question is how many Anglicisms can be found in our material from these two countries, and whether there are similarities or systematic differences. Our data therefore consists of the lexic we are going to find. However, we want to analyze them in regard of pragmatical reasons on why they were used.

References

Eisenberg, Peter (2011), Das Fremdwort im Deutschen. Berlin: de Gruyter

s.a. (10. August 2017), De invloed van het Engels, Online: https://onzetaal.nl/nieuws-en-dossiers/dossiers/de-invloed-van-het-engels

Stickel, Gerhard (Hrsg.) (2001): Neues und Fremdes im deutschen Wortschatz. Aktueller lexikalischer Wandel. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter (Jahrbuch des IDS).

Zifonun, Gisela (15. Mai 2002): „Überfremdung des Deutschen: Panikmache oder echte Gefahr?“ in: IDS-Sprachforum (9 pages)

Peer-to-peer praise in Sweden-Swedish and Finland-Swedish university interactions

Current research in variational pragmatics has given many new insights on the pragmatic differences between Sweden-Swedish and Finland-Swedish interaction, e.g. as regards address patterns, feedback and advice-giving (e.g. Wide 2016). In this paper, we contribute to this field by presenting a comparative study of how Swedish-speaking students in Sweden and Finland praise each other’s work and encourage each other in their studies. The main research question is: Are there differences in how Sweden-Swedish and Finland-Swedish students give and receive peer-to-peer praise?

As a rule, praise is studied in connection to criticism. Some scholars argue that praise and criticism can be hard to distinguish from each other (see e.g. Svinhufvud 2011), while other see praise and criticism as different sides of the same continuum (Siddaway & Rafetseder 2016). In this paper, we focus on the positive side of that scale, and hence limit our comparative analysis to praise and other forms of positive encouragement.

The data consist of video recorded seminars, oral presentations, and group work in Sweden-Swedish and Finland-Swedish university settings. Sequences in which students give each other encouraging peer-feedback will be excerpted from a total of approximately six hours of interaction. The theoretical approach is variational pragmatics (Schneider & Barron 2008) and the analysis is carried out within the framework of interactional linguistics (Lindström 2009). Both the situational frame with its given participant roles and the local sequential context of the conversation will be taken into account.

References

Lindström, J. 2009. Interactional linguistics. In: D’hondt et al. (Eds.), The Pragmatics of Interaction. John Benjamins Publishing Company, 96–103.

Schneider, K.P. & Barron, A. (Eds.) 2008. Variational Pragmatics. A Focus on Regional Varieties in Pluricentric Languages. John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Siddaway, A.P. & Rafetseder, E. 2016. Agenda for conceptualising and researching praise and criticism. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 52, 98–99.

Svinhufvud, K. 2011. Varovasti edeten ja taas perääntyen. Opponentin palautevuoron rakentuminen. Virittäjä 2011 (2), 156–192.

Wide, C. 2016. Kommunikativa skillnader mellan sverigesvenskt och finlandssvenskt språkbruk. In: Gustafsson et al. (Eds.), Svenskans beskrivning 34. Lund University, 39–62.

“Je devrais vous demander quelque chose” – external modification in native and non-native requests

Knowing how to make requests is an essential pragmatic skill, as requests are essential in many kinds of contexts in everyday life. Choosing an appropriate formulation for the request depends on the language, the culture, and the specific situational context of the request (see Blum-Kulka et al. 1989), which may cause problems for non-native speakers of a language.

Previous research on requests in a second/foreign language (L2) has focused largely on analyzing the directness and internal modifiers of requests. However, the success of a request depends also on the use of external modifiers, i.e. in what kind of linguistic context the request proper is situated. External modifiers may be justifications, promises of reward, apologies, and other elements which support the request proper. Such external modification has been studied almost exclusively in L2 English. Studies with other target languages need to be conducted in order to find out how this pragmalinguistic skill develops in a second/foreign language. To address this need, this study examines the development of French L2 requests as uttered by Finnish L1 speakers.

The research questions of the paper are: How does the use of external modifiers in requests develop among Finnish speakers of L2 French from beginner to advanced level? What kinds of differences/similarities are there between external modifiers in L2 French, L1 French and L1 Finnish?

The data of the study were collected using an oral Discourse Completion Test (ODCT), with requests elicited from Finnish non-native speakers of French at three different proficiency levels, as well as from native speakers of Finnish and French. The analysis of external modifiers is based on the taxonomies developed in previous studies such as Blum-Kulka et al. (1989) and Woodfield and Economidou-Kogetsidis (2010).

The study has important implications not only for L2 French teaching, but for the field of speech act studies in general, because it sheds light on pragmalinguistic differences on a less studied aspect of request production between two typologically different languages, Finnish and French.

References:

Blum-Kulka, Shoshana, House, Juliane & Kasper, Gabriele (eds.) (1989) Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. Norwood: Ablex.

Woodfield, Helen & Economidou-Kogetsidis, Maria (2010) “’I just need more time’: A study of native and non-native students’ requests to faculty for an extension.” Multilingua 29: 1. 77‒118.

Un marqueur de l’évidentialité à l’usage des historiens et des linguistes. Conditions d’usage et moyens de traduire.

Le discours académique ne se caractérise normalement pas par la modalité d’évidence. Dans une étude contrastive d’un corpus de comptes rendus de lecture académiques publiés dans les revues de domaines d’histoire et de sciences du langage en estonien et en français, j’ai néanmoins constaté une différence considérable quant aux usage des appels à l’évidence. Les revues estoniennes témoignaient d’un grand usage de la particule ju qui fonctionne dans cette langue, entre autres, comme marqueur de l’évidentialité. La particule servait à confirmer des convictions (1) en ce qui concernait les manières de présentation de la recherche, (2) en ce qui concernait les faits étudiés ou encore (3) des convictions génériques présumées d’être partagées par la communauté de communication. Des exemples :

  1. Peab ju selgitama mõistet – ’Il faut bien expliquer la notion’.
  2. Suureks probleemiks on olnud kohanimed, mis ju osalt kadunud. – ‘Vu qu’en partie perdus de l’usage, les toponymes ont été un grand problème.
  3. Aega on ju alati vähe. – ’Le temps manque certes toujours’

Dans la description comparative des textes, le premier problème se posait de savoir expliquer les effets créés par cette particule – comment le rendre de manière adéquate même dans une traduction approximative ? Il fallait analyser, d’une part, quels étaient plus particulièrement les effets pragmatiques de l’usage de cette particule et quels étaient, d’autre part, les conditionnements discursifs de ces usages. Je vais présenter cette problématique dans le cadre d’une approche théorisant les appels aux évidences dans le discours et en m’appuyant sur les études menées en linguistique contrastive et en analyse du discours contrastive.

Références indicatives

Kärk, J. 2010. „Värvingupartiklid eesti- ja saksakeelsetes küsilausetes“, Eesti Rakenduslingvistika Ühingu aastaraamat 6, 121–134.

Münchow, P. von 2014. L'analyse du discours contrastive : comparer des cultures discursives. Grezka, Leclère et Temmar (éds) Les Sciences du langage en Europe : tendances actuelles. Limoges : Lambert-Lucas, 75-92.

Paveau, M.-A. 2006. Les prédiscours. Sens, mémoire, cognition. Paris : Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle. 

To apologize in Finnish and Swedish as learner language

In this presentation, we discuss how L2 learners of Finnish and Swedish apologize in written communication and what kind of variation apologies show in relation to learners’ proficiency level. The data consist of 626 written samples (433 in Swedish and 193 in Finnish) based on a communicative task. The task was to write an email to a peer. All texts were assessed according to the scales and criteria in the Common European Frame of Reference (CEFR). The data were collected as a part of the research project Paths in Second Language Acquisition (Topling) at the University of Jyväskylä during 2010–2013.

According to earlier research, L2 learners have pragmatic skills in their L1 but seem to lack pragmalinguistic competence in the target language. Language learners e.g. use less target-like pragmatic routines than native speakers (Barron 2003; Håkansson & Norrby 2010).  According to Lahtinen and Toropainen (2015), L2 learners use downgraders in their learner language but the linguistic forms differ from the ones in native production.

In an earlier phase of the current study apologizing in L2 Swedish was analysed and the results show that the language learners’ pragmatic and lexical skills develop in line with their overall proficiency level (cf. Kasper & Rose 2002). The most progress is shown between the CEFR levels A1 and A2 (Lahtinen & Toropainen 2017). In the present study the development of apologizing in Finnish as learner language is for the first time analysed. We explore further how apologizing in the two different learner groups develop when the learning contexts of the two languages differ. Swedish is learned mostly in formal school contexts whereas Finnish is learned both in formal and informal contexts.

Barron, A.2003. Acquisition in Interlanguage Pragmatics: Learning How to do Things with Words in a Study Abroad Context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Håkansson, G. & C. Norrby 2010. Environmental Influence on Language Acquisition. Language Learning 60:3, p. 628–650.

Kasper, G. & K. R. Rose 2002. Pragmatic Development in Second Language. Oxford: Blackwell.

Lahtinen, S. & O. Toropainen 2015. Användningen av frågor i en L2-korpus bestående av finska och svenska inlärartexter. In Nordand 10 (1), p. 81–108.

Lahtinen, S. & O. Toropainen 2017. Jag är so sorry. Att be om ursäkt på sitt andraspråk i en mejluppgift. In Sköldberg, E., M. Andréasson, H. Adamsson Eryd, F. Lindahl, S. Lindström, J. Prentice & M. Sandberg (Eds.) Svenskans beskrivning 35. Göteborgsstudier i nordisk språkvetenskap 29. Göteborgs universitet. p. 135–147.

When culture makes the difference:

Comparing Swedish communicative patterns in Sweden and Finland

In this presentation we want to discuss differences in communicative patterns that we have observed in Swedish institutional spoken interaction. We will provide examples from service encounters and medical consultations recorded in Sweden and Finland. The material was collected within the binational project Interaction and variation in pluricentric languages – communicative patterns in Sweden Swedish and Finland Swedish (2013–2020). Swedish is the language the speakers have in common in our data. Nonetheless, we have detected some pragmatic variation in how the speakers orient to each other and the subject matters at hand. Rather than concerning the language itself, this variation seems to be related to the socio-cultural context: Swedish speakers in Sweden express themselves consistently somewhat differently than the compared participants in Finland. A study of a pluricentric language like Swedish thus enables us to shed light on how culture rather than language shapes interactional practices.

We will show examples of pragmatic differentiation from the following domains of social action: person address, greetings, requests, and assessments. Compared to Finland-Swedish speakers, the speakers in Sweden generally express a more pronounced interpersonal involvement, but in some cases also more individualistic directness. Our challenge is to find a way to relate these – sometimes conflicting – micro-level findings of pragmatic conduct to macro-level tendencies in cultural preferences concerning relations between individuals and social institutions. In our concluding discussion we will pursue some avenues of an analysis combining micro and macro pragmatics. In doing so, we work within the frameworks of interactional linguistics (Kern & Selting 2013) and variational pragmatics (Schneider & Barron 2008).

References

Kern, F. & Selting, M. 2012. Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics. In Chapelle, C. (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Wiley Online Library.

Schneider, K. & Barron, A. 2008. Variational Pragmatics: A Focus on Regional Varieties in Pluricentric Languages. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

A contrastive analysis of the use of biscuit conditionals as answers

Conditionals like Austin's (1970) famous example “There are biscuits on the sideboard if you want some” are characterized by an antecedent that does not provide a prerequisite for the truth of the consequent, but the relation between antecedent and consequent is conversational rather than contingent (Franke, 2007). From a pragmatic perspective, these so-called biscuit conditionals (BCs) indicate different discourse functions. By means of an acceptability study, we want to find out possible culture-specific parameters for the acceptability of BCs in a question answering setting in a sales domain:

(1) Is there a restaurant nearby? – If you enjoy eating out, there is an Italian restaurant in the vicinity.

(2) Is there a metro station nearby? – If you prefer public transport, there is a bus stop nearby.

The implicatures triggered by positive (PBCs, 1) or negative (NBCs, 2) answers are different. While the answer in (1) suggests that the speaker assumes the questioner’s preference for eating out is a motivation for the question, in (2) besides presuming the motivation, it implicates a negative answer by offering an alternative. In our study on P/NBCs in American English and Farsi, two sets of 5 questionnaires with 30 questions were designed. Each question was randomly answered with a direct yes/no or a P/NBC answer. 250 participants took part via Amazon MTurk and played the role of either a customer or a sales agent. Our hypothesis is that NBCs are reasonable answers in both languages, but PBCs are marked.

Although BCs are highly acceptable, the ANOVA indicates that there is a significant difference between BCs and direct answers. Contrary to our expectation, PBCs’ mean value was higher than NBCs. No significant difference between customer and agent views is evident. Interestingly, a comparison of Farsi and English results reveals no meaningful cultural differences. However, we were faced with major issues in some questions concerning sociocultural diffusion, different understandings of a single requirement, and the lack of identical concepts.

References

Austin, J. L. (1970) "Ifs and Cans", in Austin, Philosophical Papers, second ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1970): 205-232.

Franke, M. (2007) The Pragmatics of Biscuit Conditionals. In: Proceedings of the 16th Amsterdam colloquium. pp. 91-96.

Two experimental approaches to reference in Estonian, Finnish, and Russian

It is widely known that referential devices of the same category (e.g., personal pronouns, demonstrative pronouns) can have significantly different usages and discourse functions in different languages (e.g., Gundel et al. 1993). This has led many researchers to apply empirical, including experimental, methods to investigate the nature of reference in different languages (e.g., Coventry et al. 2008). However, experimental methods as a separate study are rarely investigated as a means of studying reference.

The aim of this study is to evaluate two production experiments conducted on the use of referential devices in Estonian, Finnish, and Russian. In the first experiment, we used a picture-sequence based narrative elicitation method where participants were asked to tell a story based on events performed by animate referents in picture-books. In the second experiment, we devised a method where participants were asked to describe and compare three houses that they could see around them. The experiments were conducted in Tartu, Estonia. All participants were native speakers of their language.

The data of the picture-describing experiment consists of 3935 referential units from 60 adults (20 Estonians (mean age = 32), 20 Finns (mean age = 46) and 20 Russians (mean age = 40)). The data of the environment-describing experiment contains 3604 referential units from 119 adults (33 Estonians (mean age = 30), 28 Finns (mean age = 51) and 25 Russians (mean age = 22)).

The production data of the two experiments are tagged for the presence and type of various referential expressions that include demonstrative pronouns, personal pronouns, demonstrative adverbs and relative clauses. The data are also tagged for many other variables such as distance and animacy. The results of the two experiments clearly show that even if the same referential devices are available in the three languages, these devices may not be used in a similar way. For example, in all the three languages, it is possible to use demonstrative pronouns as determiners, and relative clauses as identification tools. However, the amount of these usages vary greatly in these languages.

Furthermore, our study indicates that experiments of a different design on a similar subject have two main advantages. Firstly, the research design is reliable and valid if similar results across these experiments are obtained. This further indicates that the phenomenon under study exists in actual language use. Second, it provides a more thorough understanding of reference in that the experiments compensate for each other’s shortcomings.

References

Coventry, Kenny R., Berenice Valdés, Alejandro Castillo & Pedro Guijarro-Fuentes. 2008. Language within your reach: Near–far perceptual space and spatial demonstratives. Cognition 108(3). 889–895.

Gundel, Jeanette K., Nancy Hedberg & Ron Zacharski. 1993. Cognitive status and the form of referring expressions in discourse. Language 69(2). 274–307.

Do evidential markers always convey epistemic values?

The case of the Iberian Romance reportatives

Evidentiality as “a linguistic category whose primary meaning is source of information” (Aikhenvald 2004: 3) has received increasing attention in the recent years by researchers working in semantics and pragmatics (Casseb-Galvão 2011, Travis 2006). Among the most debated topics in this field, the relation between evidentiality and epistemicity (‘degree of certainty’) is a central question still waiting for clarification (Alcázar forthcoming).

In this paper three evidential markers, or reportatives, found in some varieties of the Iberian Romance languages—Galician disque, American Spanish dizque and Brazilian Portuguese diz que, will be contrasted. The three reportatives have developed from the verb ‘to say’―Gal. dicir, Sp. decir, Pg. dizer―plus the complementizer que ‘that’ introducing a subordinate clause into a single invariable unit (Gal. disque, Sp. dizque, Pg. diz que) with an evidential value (‘it is said that’), and potentially also with an epistemic value of unreliable information.

Literature on the topic does not agree about the exact sense of these units and the level of language from where the problem should be tackled (Cruschina & Remberger 2008, Sousa 2012). Most authors, relying on Aikhenvald’s (2004: 179-182) claim that epistemic values are extensions of the role of reported evidentials―whatever it means, avoid giving a clear formulation to the problem. Others consider that epistemic values appear in a further step in the gramaticalization cline (Miglio 2010).

The aim of this study is to find out whether, in addition to express secondhand information, these three reportatives do also mean mistrust in the information or this meaning is recovered from the context. In other words, is there a semantic component of low certainty in the meaning of these units or is this interpretation accessed through a pragmatic implicature? In analyzing these units, the corpus TILG, CORPESXXI and CdP will be used following some of the parameters developed by Olbertz (2007).

Aikhenvald, A. (2004): Evidentiality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Alcázar, A. (forthcoming): “Dizque and other emergent evidential forms in Romance languages”. The Oxford Handbook of Evidentiality, ed. A. Aikhenvald. Oxford University Press (to appear in 2018).

Casseb-Galvão, V. (2011): “Gramática discursivo-funcional e teoria da gramaticalição: revisitando os usos de [diski] no portugués brasileiro”. Filologia e Linguística Portuguesa 13(2): 305-335.

Cruschina, S. & E.-M. Remberger (2008): “Hearsay and reported speech: Evidentiality in Romance”. Rivista di Grammatica Generativa 33: 95-116.

Miglio, V. (2010): “Online databases and language change: the case of Spanish dizque”. Proceedings of the American Association of Corpus Linguistics 2008, eds. S. Gries et al.,7-28. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Olbertz, H. (2007: “Dizque in Mexican Spanish: the subjectification of reportative meaning”. Rivista di Linguistica 19(1): 151-172.

Sousa, X. (2012): “Estrategias evidenciales y expresión de la fuente de información en gallego”.  Estudios sobre variación sintáctica peninsular, ed. X. Viejo, 75-98. Uviéu: Trabe.

Travis, C. (2006): “Dizque: a Colombian evidentiality strategy”. Linguistics 44(6): 1269-1297.

A socio-pragmatic study of Chinese complaint: Exploring the interplay of gender, power, and distance

Mandarin Chinese complaint has been an underrepresented linguistic behavior in the literature of sociolinguistics. This study contributed to the field of socio-pragmatics by refining the association between the complainer’s gender role and their rhetorical approaches to the communicative act of complaint in various situational contexts. Specifically, this study investigated how Chinese-speaking males and females complain to addressees of varying degrees of social power (i.e. high, equal, and low) and social distance (i.e. high and low) as well as different gender identities (i.e. male and female).

The data of the study were collected via discourse completion test with twelve designed scenarios. Respondents were 300 adult native speakers of Mandarin Chinese (150 of each gender), ranging from 26 to 55 years old. The analytical framework integrated the coding schemes developed by Trosborg (1995) and Lin (2007). After the complaint speeches were coded according to their semantico-pragmatic functions in the discourse, the distributions of the complaint mechanisms in different situational contexts in men and women’s sub-corpora were statistically analyzed via T-test and ANOVA analysis with the Scheffé post-hoc test.

Results indicated that all the three social variables had significant impacts on men and women’s rhetorical approaches to complaint communicative act. While male speakers appeared to be more sensitive to their addressee’s relative social power and gender identity, female speakers were more conscious of their interlocutor’s social distance. Although findings of this study challenged the results of earlier investigations into Mandarin Chinese complaint based on speeches of student volunteers, it corresponded to Wu’s (2013) argumentation that young speakers’ linguistic patterns should not be the representative of the concerned speech community.

Les verbes modaux de nécessité dans les questions : les verbes devoir français et pidama (‘devoir’) estonien en contraste

L’objectif de cette communication est de comparer le comportement d’un verbe modal central en français et en estonien par rapport à l’interrogation. L’analyse s’appuie sur un corpus de traductions formé sur la base d’un corpus parallèle bidirectionnel estonien-français.

Les deux verbes étudiés fonctionnent de manière analogue dans le domaine de la modalité radicale, ils apparaissent également avec la valeur épistémique et ont des emplois dits « postmodaux », issus de leurs valeurs modales de base (cf. van der Auwera et Plungian 1998). La présente étude s’intéressera aux emplois de ces verbes dans les questions directes. Les études sur le verbe devoir ont relevé l’incompatibilité de certaines de ses valeurs modales (notamment la valeur épistémique) avec un type de questions, à savoir l’interrogation partielle (cf. par exemple, Kronning 1996, Vetters et Barbet 2006). D’autre part, du point de vue pragmatique, l’emploi de devoir déontique dans les interrogatives a été signalé comme un moyen « durcissant » dans l’expression indirecte d’un ordre (Dois-tu vraiment te moucher dans ta serviette ?, cf. Manno 2002). L’analyse du corpus de traductions montre que devoir et pidama ont des correspondances assez régulières dans ces cas. En revanche, il y a certains emplois où le verbe modal est systématiquement traduit par d’autres constructions (par exemple : EST. Mida see peab [devoir.PR.3SG] tähendama [signifier.INF] ? oigas ta ja vahtis Almat otse hirmunult. FR. Qu’est-ce que ça veut dire ? gémit-il en lui lançant un regard épouvanté.), ou bien par un autre verbe modal relevant du domaine de possibilité (par exemple : EST. Mida pidin [devoir.PST.1SG] tundma [sentir.INF], kui olin ainult veiderdaja ? FR. Que pouvais-je bien ressentir, alors que j’étais un simple bouffon ?). Dans ces cas, le verbe modal semble avoir perdu sa valeur de base déontique, étant lié plutôt à l’acte de l’interrogation qu’il sert à modaliser. La communication se concentrera sur ces non-correspondances dans les traductions en tenant compte des différents types de questions (cf. Coveney 2011) et de leurs fonctions pragmatiques (cf. Kerbrat-Orecchioni 2001).

Références :

COVENEY, A. 2011. « L'interrogation directe », in Travaux de linguistique 2 (n°63), 112-145. DOI 10.3917/tl.063.0112.

Context assessment and convention: Requesting practices in Polish and Norwegian from a socio-cognitive perspective

The paper focuses on the selection of imperative and interrogative formats in Polish and Norwegian informal interactions. It examines how language users from the two cultures build requests in everyday encounters on the basis of their orientation towards both the local development of action and intraculturally shared conventions (cf. Kecskes 2008; 2013a; 2013b).

The data comprise request sequences of naturally occurring interactions drawn from the Norwegian Big Brother Corpus and a parallel Polish Big Brother series. The Polish data consist of 568 imperative and 87 interrogative formats, while the Norwegian data contain 262 imperative and 190 interrogative formats.

The analysis that combines conversation analytic approach (Sacks 1995 [1964-1972]; Schegloff 2007) with speech-act based pragmalinguistics (Searle 1969; Ervin-Tripp 1981; Leech 1983; Blum-Kulka et al. 1989) shows that Polish and Norwegian differ in the regular selection of grammatical constructions when S enlists H to perform an action that serves S’s basic needs. This divergence can be observed in the settings of routine practices (such as passing an object during meals), but also in the contexts in which H holds or is in the vicinity of the requested object. The two languages also differ in conventions when a request concerns a simple favour (like making a cup of tea, assisting in an activity, or providing help) or when it concerns sharing goods (like food, lighter, cigarette etc.). In all these cases the Polish participants regularly applied imperative formats while the Norwegian speakers chose interrogative constructions. This indicates that the former seemed to assume that H’s willingness and cooperativeness were self-evident and that the objects of their requests did not need to be enquired about (cf. Zinken & Ogierman 2013). The Norwegian participants, on the other hand, even if they could expect H’s compliance, did not take it for granted at the level of linguistic expression.

The results also show that the selection of a given request format can be seen through both more and less dynamic processes of contextual assignment. The former emerge locally, drawing on the sequential development of the situation and the functional properties of language resources. They are, however, embedded in the latter processes that draw on the socio-cultural competence of language users, established through recurrent practices and elevated to the level of norms. At the intersection of these processes one can identify cross-cultural differences in requesting governed by both choices made in situ and the culture-specific conventions of language use.

References:

Blum-Kulka, S., House, J., Kasper, G. (1989). Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: Requests and Apologies. Norwood: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

Ervin-Tripp, S. (1981). How to make and understand a request. In H. Parret, M. Sbisà, J. Verschueren (eds.), Possibilities and Limitations of PragmaticsAmsterdam: John Benjamins, 195─209.

Kecskes, I. (2008). Dueling contexts: A dynamic model of meaning. Journal of Pragmatics 40, 385─406.

Kecskes, I. (2013a). Intercultural Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kecskes, I. (2013b). Intercultures, Encyclopedic Knowledge, and Cultural Models. In S. Farzad & M. Jamarani (eds.): Language and Intercultural Communication in the New Era. (pp. 39-59). New York/London: Routledge.

Leech, G. (1983). Principles of Pragmatics. London/New York: Longman.

Sacks, H. (1995 [1964─1972]). Lectures on Conversation. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

Searle, J. (1969). Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. London: Cambridge University Press.

Schegloff, E. (2007). Sequence Organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Zinken, J., Ogiermann, E. (2013). Responsibility and Action: Invariants and Diversity in Requests for Objects in British English and Polish Interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 46(3), 256─276.

Russian Tautologies in Translation: a Corpus Study

The study is dedicated to pragmatic aspects of translation of Russian tautologies based on the parallel text corpora within the Russian National Corpus. The issue of (non)translatability of tautologies was discussed in (Wierzbicka 1991; Bulhof&Gimbel 2001, etc.), and is closely connected with semantic / pragmatic mechanism of their interpretation.

Here I analyzed Russian equative tautologies Х copula X in original texts and translations from / into English, French, Spanish and German – languages where tautologies are commonly used, as attested in literature. Thus, three groups of examples were obtained: (a) tautologies are found both in the original text and its translation from / into Russian, cf. (1); (b) a Russian tautology is used to translate a non-tautological phrase, cf. (2); a Russian tautology is translated in a non-tautological way, cf. (3).

(1) If I can't see, I can hear a finger stirring. Business is business.  [Robert Louis Stevenson. Treasure Island (1883)]

Ja ne mogu teba videt’, no ja slyšu, kak drožat tvoi palcu. Delo est’ delo [transl. by N. Čukovsky (1935)]

(2) "Was wollen Sie?" antwortet er. "Das ist der Krieg!" (lit. ‘this is war’) [Thomas Mann. Buddenbrooks (1896-1900)]

Čto vy xotite, - otvečaet on, - voina est’ voina! (lit. ‘war is war’) [transl. by N. Man (1953)]

(3) Ničego, ničego, xorošij moj, žizn’ est’ žizn’ (lit. ‘life is life’) [Vassili Grossman. Žizn’ y sud’ba (1960)]

     — Ce n'est rien, ce n'est rien, mon Stépan, c'est la vie (lit. ‘it’s life). [transl. by Alexis Berelowitč (1980)] 

My research questions are the following: (a) how common are these three strategies of translation for chosen languages; (b) is there any link between any particular strategy and the language from / into which a tautology is translated; (c) what are possible explanations for these facts? While the first strategy is default, being most accessible, two other strategies mark the difference in possible inferences associated with Russian tautologies vs. its equivalents in other languages, showing gaps either between conventionalized meanings of particular tautological tokens or general paths of interpretation for syntactic patterns in different languages.

This research has been partially supported by grant MK-713.2017.6 of President of Russian Federation for young scientists and by grant FFI2015-63497-P from the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad and the European Regional Development Fund to the project SPIRIM."

References

Bulhof J. & S. Gimbel. Deep tautologies // Pragmatics and cognition. 2001. Vol. 9 (2). Pp. 279-291.

Wierzbicka A. Cross-cultural pragmatics: the semantics of human interaction. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991.

Prosodic Features in the Speech of Finnish- and French-Speaking Boys with Autism

It is known that persons afflicted with autism often have deviant prosodic features in their speech. For example, they may have a limited range of intonation, their speech can be overly fast, jerky or loud, or it can be characterized by large pitch excursions, quiet voice, inconsistent pause structure, prominent word stress and/or by creaky or nasal voice (Paul et al. 2005a; Paul et al. 2005b; Shriberg et al. 2001; Provonost et al. 1966; Rutter & Lockyer 1967; Ornitz & Ritvo 1976; Fay & Schuler 1980; Tager-Flusberg 1981; Baltaxe & Simmons 1985, 1992; Paul 1987; McPartland & Klin 2006; Tager-Flusberg 2000). Moreover, it has been shown that people afflicted with autism have difficulties to produce affective prosodic patterns (Scott 1985). Fine et al. (1991) have however reported that autistic subjects are able to employ useful prosodic patterns for communication. Producing appropriate stress patterns can nevertheless be difficult for them (Paul et al. 2005a, Paul et al. 2005b). Shriberg et al. (2001) report that persons with autism have notable deficits in pragmatic and affective use of prosody, but they do not have difficulties with the grammatical functions of prosody.

Deviant prosodic features of speech do not, however, concern every individual afflicted with autism (Simmons & Baltaxe 1975; Paul et al. 2005b). Nevertheless, when these features occur, they constitute a significant obstacle to the social acceptance of the individual (Paul et al. 2005a: 205). Indeed, deviant prosodic features may create an immediate impression of “oddness” (VanBourgondien & Woods 1992), and they affect autistic speakers’ ratings of social and communicative competence (Paul et al. 2005b).

The aim of this paper is to present different salient prosodic features occurring in slightly autistic preadolescents’ speech. The data come from authentic group therapy sessions where 11–13-year-old Finnish-speaking boys (N = 7) and French-speaking boys (N = 4) speak with each other and with their two therapists. The paper will focus on the following features: large pitch excursions, bouncing pitch, flat pitch, jerky rhythm, slow speech rate and fast speech rate. Some of these features occur only in Finnish or in French, whereas some others can be found in both languages. It is also interesting that some of them occur all the time in the speech of an individual, whereas some others occur only in certain types of contexts. The analyses have been carried out using methods of phonetics.