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Review of  Linguistic Emotivity

Reviewer: Michael Haugh
Book Title: Linguistic Emotivity
Book Author: Senko K. Maynard
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Subject Language(s): Japanese
Language Family(ies): Altaic
Issue Number: 14.2480

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Date: Wed, 17 Sep 2003 15:38:32 +1000
From: Michael Haugh
Subject: Linguistic Emotivity: Centrality of Place ... in Japanese Discourse

Maynard, Senko K. (2002) Linguistic Emotivity: Centrality of Place,
the Topic-Comment Dynamic, and an Ideology of 'Pathos' in Japanese
Discourse, John Benjamins Publishing Company, Pragmatics and Beyond New
Series 97.

Michael Haugh, School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies,
The University of Queensland, Australia.


In her latest work "Linguistic Emotivity", Senko K. Maynard
investigates an area of linguistics that has long been neglected,
namely the way in which emotions are expressed and negotiated in
language. This study is grounded in the Place of Negotiation theory
that she has developed in the course of her research on linguistic
emotivity, and is supported by examples from Japanese.

The book is broadly divided into six parts, which are further
subdivided into eighteen chapters. The first two parts of the book are
more theoretical in nature, as this is where the various concepts
underlying the Place of Negotiation theory are introduced and
justified. The linguistic data underlying the Place of Negotiation
theory, which is drawn from examples of linguistic emotivity in
Japanese, is presented in the following three parts. The concluding
part of the work offers some general thoughts on linguistic emotivity
in Japanese, and examines the broader implications of this study. The
main text of this book is followed by a brief appendix, endnotes,
references, an author index, and a subject index.

In Part One, 'Preliminaries', Maynard draws the reader into this topic,
and shows that while it has received little attention in modern
linguistics, it nevertheless has been a concern in the philosophy of
language since the time of Aristotle. Part One is divided into two
chapters, Introduction (Chapter One) and Background (Chapter Two). In
the Introductory chapter, Maynard orients the reader to the key
concepts underlying her study, including emotivity, expressivity and
'pathos'. She argues that modern linguistics has focused on 'logos',
form, information and abstraction at the expense of pathos, expression
and emotion. The concept of 'sensus communis', which is termed
'background knowledge', 'common knowledge' and so on in modern
linguistics, is also introduced as a key concept in understanding
linguistic emotivity. In the Background chapter, previous work that
touches upon the relationship between language and emotion is briefly
reviewed to show how this study is related to past research, both in
the European and Japanese traditions. Through this review, Maynard
establishes the rationale for her own study.

In Part Two, the Place of Negotiation theory itself is introduced over
four chapters. Chapter Three, gives a general overview of the Place of
Negotiation theory. Maynard argues that linguistic meaning arises from
the negotiation of interpretations. Three different dimensions of place
are proposed: cognitive, emotive, and interactional place. The way in
which these dimensions influence the negotiation of meaning is said to
be fluid in nature, depending upon the corresponding dimensions of self
manifested in a particular interaction. The functions of language are
then divided into six main types that are related to the three
fundamental dimensions of place. In Chapter Four, Maynard delves more
deeply into the concept of place, which has long occupied an important
position in Japanese philosophy and language studies. She explains how
the notion of place incorporated into the Place of Negotiation theory
draws upon previous work by Japanese scholars, but also further
develops those insights so as to allow its application to the study of
linguistic interaction. The way in which emotive meanings are located
and interpreted in the Place of Negotiation is then discussed in
Chapter Five. The various interpretive processes involved in the
formation of 'negotiative meaning' are also discussed. In Chapter Six,
the Place of Negotiation theory is related to key aspects of Japanese
discourse, since the theory has been constructed primarily from
observations of Japanese language. These key aspects include the topic-
comment dynamic that is common in Japanese, the traditional rhetorical
figure of 'futaku' (essentially a method for expressing one's feelings
by borrowing something concrete), and what Maynard terms the 'Rhetoric
of Pathos' (where a language prioritizes means that reveal and share
one's 'feeling self').

Part Three focuses upon how Japanese discourse creates emotive topics
across four chapters. These four chapters are preceded by a brief
justification of the various sources of linguistic data utilised in
this study, which include data used in previous research by scholars,
created examples, comics, novels, newspaper articles and television
dramas. In Chapter Seven, Maynard examines the ways in which vocatives
and topic-marking expressions are associated with emotivity. Vocatives
involve calling out to a person as an object of one's emotions, while
topics involve presenting a person as an object of one's emotions.
Emotive nominals, such as exclamative nominals or sentential nominals,
are addressed in Chapter Eight. Emotive nominals are used to foreground
emotions such as exclamation, surprise, admiration, and being deeply
moved. In Chapter Nine, quotative topics, which are primarily marked by
the particle 'tte' in Japanese, are considered. The way in which
utterance-final 'tte' can be used to express assertiveness or
hesitation in different situations is demonstrated. In the final
chapter of Part Three, the use of 'nan(i)' (what) in giving rise to
various emotive and interactional meanings is discussed.

In Part Four, the emotive import of comments in Japanese is considered
over three chapters. In the first chapter of Part Four, Maynard
discusses the ways in which the so-called copulative forms 'da' ('be')
and 'janai' ('not be') are used as commentary strategies. More
specifically, Maynard argues that while 'da' and 'janai' provide
informational meaning, they also can signal a speaker's feeling or
attitude of assertiveness in some situations. Chapter Twelve moves on
to consider how interrogatives may function as emotive comments. In
many cases, interrogatives are not used with the expectation of seeking
an answer, but rather are used to express emotive meanings, often
related to feelings of doubt, surprise, exclamation and so on. In the
final chapter of Part Four, Maynard focuses on stylistic shifts between
'plain' and 'polite' forms (such as 'da' versus 'desu'), and the usage
of interactional particles (such as 'yo'). She demonstrates through an
analysis of television drama and novels that the use of plain endings
as opposed to polite occur not only when the speaker's awareness of
'you' is low, but also at times of deepening emotion between

Part Five concerns itself with how linguistic emotivity arises in
Japanese cultural discourse from the perspective of a Rhetoric of
'Pathos' (where a language prioritizes means that reveal and share
one's 'feeling self'). While Parts Three and Four focused on specific
linguistic expressions, the examples analysed in Part Five examine the
overall effects of linguistic emotivity in different genres of mass
culture. In Chapter Fourteen, linguistic emotivity arising in a
historical television drama is examined. The following chapter focuses
on linguistic emotivity associated with newspaper articles,
particularly that enacted in text organisation. The final chapter of
Part Five focuses on the presentation and negotiation of selves, using
data drawn from another television drama. More specifically, Maynard
examines the ways in which stylistic choice and shift (first addressed
in Chapter Thirteen), and the usage of vocatives and reference forms
(considered previously in Chapter Seven), are involved in the
negotiation of 'interactional self', 'gendered self', and 'playful

The last Part of this book broadens the study of linguistic emotivity,
and discusses the importance of linguistic emotivity within the general
programme of linguistic research. In Chapter Seventeen, Maynard
reflects upon the preference of Japanese language for a Rhetoric of
'Pathos', and the importance of the concept of place and the aesthetics
of 'pathos' in Japanese culture in general. The concluding chapter of
this work considers the significance of the Place of Negotiation theory
for linguistics, in particular from the perspective of competing
linguistic ideologies.


The current volume is the culmination of more than twenty years of
research into discourse and text issues in Japanese by Maynard, and the
depth of her theoretical contribution, and the breadth of her
linguistic analyses reflects the enormous scholarly effort underpinning
this work. A theory of language that embraces not only more traditional
aspects of meaning, but also interactional and emotive aspects is by
necessity a complex animal. Maynard has successfully introduced, in her
Place of Negotiation theory, an approach that provides a solid, but
also manageable (in the sense of being only as complex as is necessary)
foundation for further studies of the relationship between language and
emotion. While it has been developed using examples from Japanese,
there is nothing inherently culture-specific about the framework
proposed by Maynard, although what further developments of the theory
might arise in applying it to other languages is of great interest.

Apart from the obvious contribution this work makes to our
understanding of the relationship between language and emotion, this
book is important in that it represents a comprehensive theory of
language that has been developed using insights from a linguistic
tradition somewhat distinct to that of Western linguists. Maynard
expands upon notions such as 'place', thereby deepening the range of
concepts available for use in examining linguistic phenomenon. This
contribution arises both from her reviews of Japanese philosophy and
language studies which are not widely available in English, and from
her own developments of ideas in that tradition. Interestingly, the
assumptions underlying Maynard's approach to language bear some
striking similarities to Arundale's (1999) work on communication, and a
viable alternative 'theory of language' might be drawn from these two
complementary approaches.

This book will be of interest to those who are interested in research
about the relationship between language and emotion, or what Maynard
terms linguistic emotivity, and provides a comprehensive starting point
for future research both in Japanese and in other languages. It will
also be of interest to those who are interested in the Japanese
language in general. Many of the ideas presented in this book would
prove invaluable to anyone wishing to further their understanding of
emotivity in Japanese. As a learner of Japanese myself, I found reading
this book expanded my understanding of linguistic emotivity in Japanese
considerably, and opened my eyes to the richness of linguistic
resources available in Japanese for expressing and negotiating
emotional dimensions of communication. The only real drawback I found
in reading this book was that all the Japanese examples are written in
'romaji' rather than normal Japanese script. Although it might not be
feasible in terms of the length of the book, it would be a kindness to
those readers who speak Japanese to provide examples of Japanese
written in Japanese (as well as 'romaji'). And although again it might
not have been feasible in terms of the book's length, it also would
have been interesting to have seen a chapter on how the Place of
Negotiation theory might be integrated with other areas of linguistic
research. It may be, however, that this observation simply points to a
potential avenue of future research.

Maynard's approach to language represents a challenge to traditional
assumptions in formal linguistics, and she shows a refreshing awareness
of the ideological nature of all linguistic theory. She has succeeded
in pushing the boundaries of linguistic concern, and one hopes, has
opened the door to vast new field of linguistic inquiry.


Arundale, R. (1999). An alternative model and ideology of communication
for an alternative to politeness theory. Pragmatics 9:119-154.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER Michael Haugh has completed a PhD at the University of Queensland ("Politeness Implicature in Japanese: A Metalinguistic Approach"). His research interests include pragmatics, intercultural and interpersonal communication, and applied linguistics.