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LINGUIST List 21.2967

Sun Jul 18 2010

Disc: Refuting the Negative in Conversation/Discourse

Editor for this issue: Elyssa Winzeler <elyssalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Sherri Condon, Refuting the Negative in Conversation/Discourse

Message 1: Refuting the Negative in Conversation/Discourse
Date: 15-Jul-2010
From: Sherri Condon <scondonmitre.org>
Subject: Refuting the Negative in Conversation/Discourse
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I am submitting this query for a friend/colleague in child development.
He has identified an interesting pattern, and we wonder whether
anyone else has identified/researched it. He called it 'refuting the
negative' and describes it like this:

We ask our young adults to describe, in many ways, their experiences
with adoption, with contact with their birth parents, with friends, etc. -
and so they have many opportunities to make evaluative statements.
Sometimes they make a positive statement by taking a negative and
refuting it.

For example, when asked how they feel about not having contact with
their birth mother, one respondent said 'It doesn't bother me.' They
didn't say 'It's fine' -- rather, they took the negative stance and then
refuted it.

Here are some other examples:
How did you come to this decision (not to seek further information
about your birth father)? 'Never felt the need. I don't feel empty.' (as if
anticipating and negating what she thought would be a response).

When asked to tell a story about the family they grew up in... 'My family
has always treated me and my brother as their children. I have never
felt adopted.' (implying that there is something inherently negative
about 'feeling adopted' - but that doesn't describe him).

Another: 'Since I was adopted when I was so young, I don't feel like I'm
any different from other people.' (as if being adopted is supposed to
mean you are different).

Please reply to my email: scondonmitre.org. I will submit a summary
to the list, if there are responses.

Sherri Condon

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis
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