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LINGUIST List 16.1565

Mon May 16 2005

Diss: Anthropological Ling: Shoaps: 'Morality in ...'

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        1.    Robin Shoaps, Morality in Grammar and Discourse: Stance-taking and the Negotiation of Moral Personhood in Sakapultek (Mayan) Wedding Counsels


Message 1: Morality in Grammar and Discourse: Stance-taking and the Negotiation of Moral Personhood in Sakapultek (Mayan) Wedding Counsels
Date: 16-May-2005
From: Robin Shoaps <shoapscomm.umass.edu>
Subject: Morality in Grammar and Discourse: Stance-taking and the Negotiation of Moral Personhood in Sakapultek (Mayan) Wedding Counsels


Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara
Program: Linguistics Department
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Robin A Shoaps

Dissertation Title: Morality in Grammar and Discourse: Stance-taking and the Negotiation of Moral Personhood in Sakapultek (Mayan) Wedding Counsels

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics
                            Discourse Analysis
                            Pragmatics

Subject Language(s): Sacapulteco (QUV)

Dissertation Director:
Charles Bazerman
Patricia Clancy
John W. Du Bois
John A. Lucy

Dissertation Abstract:

Among the most fundamental uses to which we put language is the portrayal
of our own and others' stances and actions within a moral landscape. This
dissertation explores the grammatical and discursive ramifications of this
assertion by interrogating the central role language plays in mediating
moral evaluation and negotiating a moral landscape. Specifically, concepts
of moral personhood - or idealizations underlying conventions of evaluation
and portrayal of the moral landscape - among Guatemala's Sakapultek Maya
are examined in light of grammar and discourse. Although this dissertation
draws from data representing a range of discourse genres, the particular
focus is on the primary linguistic resources used in the native speech
event of pixab', or ritual wedding advice.

The notion of stance - and utterance unit that lies between a specific
grammatical resource and an idealized morally authoritative 'voice' that
is argued to inhere in the genre of pixab' - is developed in order to probe
the relationship between language and moral personhood. Specifically,
pixab' is argued to be a primary cultural setting for deontic
stance-taking, or how individuals position themselves with respect to
notions of necessity, obligation and responsibility. Directives or verbs
with a second person semantic agent are the most common deontic
stance-taking resource in Sakapultek. The profusion of strategies for
inflecting directives in Sakapultek are examined and analyzed in terms of
the nature of the performance of a stance of moral authority that they
facilitate. It is argued that in taking deontic stances, pixab'
participants not only outline moral obligations, but that through their
choice of directive form and framing, they position themselves with respect
to two locally-relevant loci of moral authority, the relatively
'egocentric' and the relatively 'sociocentric.'





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