LINGUIST List 15.1170

Sat Apr 10 2004

Review: Pragmatics: Ensink & Sauer (2003)

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <>

What follows is a review or discussion note contributed to our Book Discussion Forum. We expect discussions to be informal and interactive; and the author of the book discussed is cordially invited to join in. If you are interested in leading a book discussion, look for books announced on LINGUIST as "available for review." Then contact Sheila Dooley Collberg at


  1. Giampaolo Poletto, The Art of Commemoration

Message 1: The Art of Commemoration

Date: Sat, 10 Apr 2004 00:48:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: Giampaolo Poletto <>
Subject: The Art of Commemoration

EDITOR: Ensink, Titus; Sauer, Christopher
TITLE: The Art of Commemoration
SUBTITLE: Fifty Years after the Warsaw Uprising
SERIES: Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2003

Announced at

Giampaolo Poletto, 3rd year PhD student, Doctoral School in
Linguistics, University of P�cs, Hungary

This volume proposes to scholars and students a well-framed
multifaceted picture of a unique international discoursal event.

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, August 1, 1994,
representatives of different countries and institutions, invited by
the Polish President in the name of the spirit of reconciliation and
to establish new relationships, delivered a speech or read a letter on
behalf of a person of higher rank.

The essays in chapters 3 to 10 show a discoursal approach to each address.

Ensink and Sauer introduce the volume: Chapter 1, Facing the past,
pp.1-18; Chapter 2, A discourse analytic approach to the commemorative
speeches about the Warsaw Uprising, pp.19-40.

In Chapter 11 - The politics of public memory, pp. 222-241 - Frank van
Vree overviews on how expressions of historical consciousness
determine the shifts in the way a society treats its past. Complex
phenomena of historical culture (see Hutton, 1994; Young, 1994), time
and societal developments affect the representations of the Second
World War, as to the politics of commemoration in Germany, The
Netherlands, France and Poland. There is an evolution, different in
Eastern Europe, from a shared forgetfulness about signs of weakness to
a pluralist and politicised view: internal conflicts merge and imply
acknowledgement of responsabilities; public memory of countries
converge on the persecuted of the war; war does not temporarily
interrupts the continuity of history, where it is included. As a sign
of a universal humanist historical culture, memory is vivid, as
Auschwitz shows.

This view supports the general framework of the volume: Nietzsche's
double perspective of historicism and oblivionism (see Weinrich,
2000). Historicism is the legitimisation of the present, related to
the past as a national memory. It is vital to culture, as systematic
forgetting is crucial to its vitality.

Contemporary commemorations of the events of the Second World War
remember the results of historical developments and forget details and
coincidental events. They are to be planned and designed to meet the
public's needs. Warsaw 1994 successfully recalibrates the memory of
the events of 1944.

The old German enemies and the late Russian oppressors are together in
Warsaw, with the then-allies to the Polish uprisers. There are
representatives from England, the USA, France, South Africa, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand. Their addresses are presented on Kras'inski
Square. The letter from the Polish Pope Karol Woityla is read by his
Nuntius during the Holy Mass in Pil/sudski Square, instead.

Each speaker gives voice to one nation and addresses a multiple
audience, as animator, author or principal (see Goffman, 1981). The
address relates to a situational context. Speakers have thus precise
roles (see Levinson, 1988), analysed as to their direct participation
in the situation; their direct involvement in the physical
transmission of the message; their motivation or desire to communicate
it; their responsaibility for or involvement in devising its form or
format (see Ensink, 1996).

The event is a cross-national commemoration. Speeches take into
account the occasion itself and the commemorated event, balancing
between remembering and forgetting. An overview on all speeches thus
results in the following. The role of the Uprising in Polish history
is mythically interpreted (see Galasin'ski, Chapter 3). A former enemy
delivers a guilt-filled address, to come to terms with the past (see
Ensink and Sauer, Chapter 4). Participants are clearly categorised and
lively described (see Mazeland, Chapter 5). The support of the
then-allies is emphasized (see Sch�ffner, Chapter 6). History is
referred to as an abstract central category (see Torck, Chapter
7). The Uprising, the post-war and post-communist period are not to
be much burdened with history (see Steinke, Chapter 8). The
circumstances and results of the uprising are shor tly or not
mentioned (see Koole, Chapter 9). The Uprising symbolizes the struggle 
against any totalitarianism (see Steinke, Chapter 10).

In the situational context of Warsaw 1994, addresses are epideictic
commemorative speeches (see Rhetorica ad Herennium, ca. 85. B.C.;
Kopperschmidt, 1989). Their main purpose is the confirmation of the
system of values and norms of a group the orator speaks to or on
behalf of, giving a shared public language to the collective
recollection and experience. That determines the margins for his
speech, which incorporates a moral meaning and contributes to a
political discourse. A convincing oration has to fulfil five rhetoric
tasks. Two are mostly relevant here: memoria, the speech-related task
of knowing and remembering as much as possible what to say; actio, the
performance-related task of eliminating disparities between words and
speaking behaviour.

Given their multiple purposes, commemorative speeches are risky. The
unifying element is the viewpoint they have to find and actualise, for
the audience to adopt it. A consistent perspective frames expected and
expectable steps and prevents the public from digression and possible
misinterpretation. A set of functional-communicative procedures, the
perspectivisation (see Sandig, 1996) , realises complex thematisations
and different viewpoint relations.

In the cross-national commemoration of the Warsaw Uprising, the
structural and lexical means proper of a certain language construct
many perspectivisation strategies: the direct address to different
addressees by the Polish President ; the alternative use of an I- and
We-perspective by the German President; the permanent shift from a
factual recollection of events to their meaning for future generations
by the US Vice-President; the 'narrator' perspective of the Uprising
of the British Prime Minister; the blending of the leader of the
Uprising with the French Revolution by the President of the French
Senate; the appeal to the good will of Poles, in the perspective of
Russia and a Polish 'relative', the personal envoy of the Russian
President; the shift from the war to present-day developments in
Poland, on a par with South Africa, by its Minister of Foreign
Affairs; the role of Canadian soldiers and the 'commitm ent to peace
and freedom' of Poland and Canada stressed by its Defence Minister ;
the reference to the new Polish government by Australia's High
Commissioner ; his own, the role of New Zealand soldiers in the war,
the final greeting to the Poles, by the New Zealand's High
Commissioner; the meaning of the Uprising in a historical and
Christian perspective, argumented in the Pope's letter.

The analyses of the speeches refer to their original language, using
the English translation in support and stressing some differences in
the circulating versions. Following the speech delivery order,
analyses display : the analytical methodology; information about the
source; the structural, rethorical, thematic, historical and
perspectivising features of the addres ses; the relation with the
representativity of the speaker and the significance of the speech in
the context of the host and represented country.

The Messianic Warsaw - pp.41-56 - describes how Lech Wal/e,sa delivers
an opening speech where the myth of Poland as the Messiah of nations
reaches its climax in the Uprising, after the sacrifice of the chosen,
death as the end, victory as the new redeemed beginning. The
particular experience of the Uprising is related to universal values,
through an interpretation for the data empirically accessible (see
Kol/akowski, 1986). The methodological underpinnings come from the
critical language study (see Fowler, 1979).

The search for acceptable perspectives - pp.57-94 - describes how
Roman Herzog meets the audience's expectations and fills the slot
created by the Polish President, who has directly addressed him. The
key-word is 'forgiveness'. The method of analysis is the Critical
Discourse Analysis (see Fairclough, 1989).

A politician's sociology - pp.95-115 - describes Albert Gore's
categorisation in collectives (see Jayyusi, 1984) of the Polish and
German participating in the Uprising. In a comparative
socio-structural mapping, the former are city-resident, national,
specific and individual categories; the latter are an undesirable
political state of affairs, impersonally categorised as a hierarchical
military organisation.

Framing the past - pp.116-140 - describes the macrostructure,
macropropositions, dominant values, speech acts and main cognitive
frames (see Andor, 1985; Fillmore, 1985), identified for Poland and
the UK in the textual structure of John Major's address, which
implicitly refers to his conservative government's view on the EU.

>From commemoration to self-celebration - pp.141-172 - describes the
structure, vocabulary and intertextual quality of Andr� Monory's
address, to emphasize the self-centred character of the French
contribution and motivate it, as to the recent events and the
speaker's participant role (see Irvine, 1996).

How the Russians handled a problem - pp.173-192 - describes Sergey
Filatov's address intertextually (see Fairclough, 1995), in two
stages: descriptive and interpretative. The envoy's speech and the
absent Russian President Yeltsin's letter reflect their different
rank, the delicate moment of Russia, heir to the collapsed Soviet
Union, a complementary vague reference to the Uprising. Filatov
stresses a view of historical facts to neutralise controversial points
and only hint at a slow shift in the Russian perspective.

Merging frames - pp.193-210 - describes how linguistic means establish
political meaning in the addresses of the South African, Canadian,
Australian and New Zealand then-allies to the Poles, focusing on the
relationship of the co-constructive text and context (see Duranti &
Goodwin, 1992). The texts have in common: the reference to the
Uprising, the Polish turn from communism, the present Commemoration,
connected and sometimes blurred; the differing degree of specificity
of the actors; opaque deictic and referential identifications of
actors and events. The public's background knowledge is to reconstruct
a specific meaning. That shows the rethorical nature of addresses
aiming to reconciliate rather than commemorate.

Pope John Paul II as a Polish Patriot - pp.211-221 - describes how the
letter of the Pope, as a religious and not political representative,
has two major aspects, structurally repeated in sections I and III, II
and IV: the historical and the moral dimension and significance of the
Warsaw Uprising, for Poland and Europe. The failure of the Uprising is
a sacrifice, an example for future generations.


A single event has a remarkable discoursal relevance, in the context
of the art of commemoration and representation, as the present volume
consistently and clearly shows. The perspective is overthrown in the
last chapter, where Nietszche's double perspective of remembering and
forgetting applies to many events. They characterize the evolution in
the way to approach the past by different societies and undercover the
wider frame of a universal humanistic historical culture, which goes
beyond rhetorics and politics.


Andor, J. (1985) On the psychological relevance of frames. Quaderni di
Semantica 6 (2): 212-221.

Duranti, A. and Goodwin, C. (eds.) (1992) Rethinking context: Language
as an interactive phenomenon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ensink, T. (1996) The footing of a royal address: An analysis of
representativeness in political speeches, exemplified in Queen
Beattrix' address to the Knesset on March 28, 1995. Current issues in
language and society 3 (3): 205-132 (312?).

Fairclough, N. (1989) Language and power. London: Longman.

Fairclough, N. (1995) Critical discourse analysis. London: Longman.

Fillmore, C.J. (1985) Frames and the semantics of
understanding. Quaderni di Semantica 6 (2): 222-254.

Fowler, R., Hodge, B., Kress, G. and Trew, T. (eds.) (1979) Language
and control. London: Routledge.

Goffman, E. (1981) Forms of talk. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hutton, P.H. (1994) Review essays. History and theory 33 (1): 95-107.

Irvine, J.T. (1996) Shadows convesations: The indeterminacy of
participant roles. In M. Silverstein and G. Urban (eds.), Natural
histories of discourse, 131-159. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jayyusi, L. (1984) Categorisation and the moral order. Boston, London,
etc: Routledge.

Kol/akowski, L. (1986) Obecnos'c' mitu (The Presence of myth). 
Waszawa: In Plus.

Kopperschmidt, J. (1989) �ffentliche Rede in Deutschland. 
Muttersprache 9�: 213-230.

Levinson, S. (1988) Putting linguistics on a proper footing:
Explorations in Goffman's concept of participation. In P. Drew and
A. Wootton (eds), Erving Goffman. Exploring the interactional order,
161-227. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Rhetorica ad Herennium (1954) (translated by H. Caplan). London:
William Heinemann.

Sandig, B. (1996) Sprachliche Perspektivierung und perspektivierende

Zeitschrift f�r Literaturwissenschaft und Linguistik 102: 36-63.
Weinrich, H. (2000) Lethe. Kunst und Kritik des Vergessens. M�nchen:
Beck (3rd revised edition).

Young, J. (ed.) (1994) The art of memory: Holocaust Memorials and
meaning. New Haven: Yale University Press.


Giampaolo Poletto is 3rd year PhD student at the Doctoral School in
Linguistics, University of P�cs, Hungary; his fields of interest are
discourse analysis, pragmatics, language acquisition.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue