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Review of  Negotiation and Power in Dialogic Interaction

Reviewer: Niladri Sekhar Dash
Book Title: Negotiation and Power in Dialogic Interaction
Book Author: Marcelo Dascal Edda Weigand
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Issue Number: 13.41

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Weigand, Edda, and Marcelo Dascal, eds. (2001) Negotiation and Power in
Dialogic Interaction. John Benjamins Publishing Company, hardback ISBN
1-58811-047-8, viii+294pp, $86.00, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory

Dr. Niladri Sekhar Dash, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India

The volume contains a selection of papers presented at the International
Conference on Pragmatics and Negotiation at Tel Aviv University and the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem in June, 1999. A part of the conference was
devoted to 'Negotiation as Dialogic Concept' where a few hundred papers
were presented dealing with a variety of topics and aspects of
negotiation. The dialogic aspect was taken as the key concept to guide the
present selection.

The volume is divided in 3 major parts. Part I (Negotiation, Mediation and
Power) contains 7 papers, Part II (Means of Negotiation) contains 4
papers, while Part III (Objects of Negotiation) contains 7 papers.
Besides, the volume contains a short Introduction by E. Weigand, and M.
Dascal, along with a general index, and the list of contributors.

In "Reputation and refutation" (Pp. 1-17) Marcelo Dascal of Tel Aviv
University looks into the evaluation of intellectual merit, and argues
that 'de facto' merit is negotiated in a way that includes both refutation
and reputation which are in fact two extremes of a continuum, rather than
belonging to strictly separated categorical domains. He identifies
reputation and refutation as two distinct domains of meaning, registers
both internal and external relations between reputation and refutation,
focuses on negotiating merit, investigates the role politeness in
reputation and refutation, and finally explores the interface among
ethics, epistemology and metaphysics of merit. How reputation plays a
considerable role in academic life (p.7) is an interesting analysis which
leads us to believe "any effort to maintain a reputation introduces
necessarily an element that is alien to the value of the work, resulting
in a reduction of that value and, ultimately, in the destruction of the
reputation one wanted to preserve or increase" (p. 15).

In "The mediator as power broker" (Pp. 19-37) Bruce Fraser of Boston
University starts with a folk tale of Trinidad to show how efficiently a
mediator can dissolve a crisis cropped up from different situations of
life. The paper deals with how language is used in the exercise of power
by mediators in performing their work as neutrals. The paper is on
discourse analysis where the emphasis is on a conceptual rather than a
linguistic analysis at the sorts of things a mediator does with language
in pursuing a settlement between disputing parties. The paper gives us a
brief overview on dispute resolution, addresses the entity of mediation
and its structure, explores the power resources available to the
mediators, and illustrates how these power resources are used by the
mediators to what purposes. In the following section we get some examples
of power that a mediator possesses and may exercise by virtue of his
position as the neutral person selected by the parties to assist them.

In "We are different than the Americans and the Japanese" (Pp. 39-62) Ruth
Wodak and Gilbert Weiss of University of Vienna present a critical
discourse analysis of decision-making in European Union meetings about
employment policies. In the introduction they give us a brief discussion
on the construction of Europe's identity and a short sequence of a
tape-recorded meeting. The main focus of their paper is the linguistic
analysis of the conflict between employers, politicians and members of the
Trade Unions in the committee and the search for a consensus. Their main
arguments are that context dependency is essential for recontextualization
of documents (Sarangi 1998, Iedema 1999) from first draft to the final
version. They also argue that the notion of 'globalization rhetoric' is
extremely important in the genesis of the policy paper on employment
policies. Finally, with the help of the critical ethnographic approach
they are able to look behind 'closed doors' and to provide some
transparency into the mechanisms of the European Union, the official and
semi-official enactment of decision-making and conflict resolution. Their
work can be seen as a contribution to the theory of organizational
discourse and decision-making in organizations (p. 43)

In "Games of Power" (Pp. 63-76) Edda Weigand of University of Muenster
presents a small sketch on the general framework for dialogue as a game of
negotiation. She concentrates on a specific feature implied in the notion
of negotiation where she identifies two ways of using power in persuading
people (giving presents, and making a threat). However, she agrees to
Grice's (1975) opinion that "the best way of negotiating one's position is
to be sincere and clear, to tell only the relevant things, not conceal or
withheld truth, etc. (p. 66). She discusses the principles of negative use
of power where she picks up some cognitive principles to show how power
can play vital roles in negotiation. She analyses a dialogue of
negotiation (a dialogue that involves representatives of China,
representatives of Toyota Company, and a mediator) from an observer's
perspective to show how principles like EVADING, INSISTING, CLARIFYING and
TRYING TO GET PROOF are used to achieve a 'win/win negotiation' (i.e., a
negotiation with some success for both parties). She rightly observes that
"negotiation cannot be dealt with as a rule-governed verbal pattern of
moves but represents an action game based on human interests and
conditions of behaviour" (p. 75).

In "The Grammar of bargaining" (Pp. 77-90) Franz Hundsnurscher of
University of Muenster takes bargaining as an illustrative example of a
large family of language games that center around the problem of how to
reach agreement on the background of divergent interests. In his opinion
bargaining can be considered as a transient type of dialogue where each
participant has his own aims although the overall goal is to reach an
agreement in order to make a transaction possible that both parties
consider to be in their interest. He presents a simple model (with minimum
constellation of two speakers) in which some of the basic elements of a
bargaining interaction are illustrated. He also presents a significant
example of methodological confusion in discourse analysis, and argues that
"by reference to the different status of underlying basic move structure
and overlying conversational and strategic structure that determine the
actual course of any bargaining interaction" (p. 80). He uses his model as
an illustrative example for the 'deep structure' of bargaining
interactions, and comments on three factors (structural level,
conversational level and strategic level) that are responsible for the
'recalcitrant complexity' of authentic bargaining talk.

In "Negotiation in business meetings" (Pp. 91-106) Monika Dannerer of
University of Salzburg tries to show not only the institutional influences
on 'negotiation', but also the connection between the way the topic is
treated and the interpersonal relations and their subtle balancing. She
makes an effort to identify what is negotiation and what can be negotiated
- where she mostly follows the lines defined by Firth (1995). She focuses
on patterns and models of negotiation where she considers negotiation as
an 'activity' and as an 'interactional phenomenon'. She illustrates a
corpus of 8 video-taped cross-departmental meetings (with a total length
of 12 hours) dealing with the issue of restructuring the co-operation
between different departments in a large Austrian company. With examples
and arguments she tries to show that negotiation in business meetings is
not always finished with the utterance of agreement (or with agreement
about disagreement), but that the sequence of 'cooling-out' seems to be
important for further co-operation in the work place (p. 103) because
participants often continue with their interaction in a very specific way.

In "Interlocutionary scenarios as negotiation of diatextual power" (Pp.
107- 122) Giuseppe Mininni of University of Bari argues that power
negotiation is one of the most intriguing issues in the study of
communicative events. He considers psychopragmatics as a theory of
interlocution where he differentiates among mediation, negotiation,
communication and interaction, and proposes a 'diatextual' approach to
account for the Subject/Situation embedding. "Diatext is a
psychopragmatical device to understand the context as it is perceived by
the utterers of the text, as they imagine it and show that they take it
into account" (p. 110). He turns his attention towards a dialogic
discursive psychology where he analyses speech acts and discursive acts,
and identifies interlocutionary scenario as Self/Other positioning. While
dealing with how negotiation stakes power, he draws a consensual view of
power and its diatextual form, and presents a few case studies on the
modalities of diatextual power. Examples of various dialogic sequence show
that in communication events people interact by negotiating their
diatextual power enabling them to monitor the agreement degree they can
get in a given situation (p. 119).

In "Addresser, Addressee and target" (Pp. 125-137) Elda Weizman of Bar
Ilan University investigates negotiating roles through ironic criticism.
Her discussion is based on a corpus of 24-hour videotaped short interviews
featuring daily program broadcast on Israeli national television, Channel
1, between 1991 and 1993. She makes a few theoretical observation and
analyses two formats of target-addressee interrelations. She also
explicates the role of ironic criticism in the negotiation of
interactional roles. The analysis of irony is based on a model of
text-understanding postulated and applied to journalistic and literary
texts. The model presupposes a three-level distinction (Grice 1971, Dascal
1983) between sentence meaning, utterance meaning and speaker's meaning.
The model further distinguishes two types of contextual information:
extra-linguistic knowledge pertaining to the world, and meta-linguistic
knowledge pertaining to interpreter's intuitive 'feeling' for linguistic
conventions. She argues that "the study of irony in context indicates that
the functions and the interpretation of irony are determined, to a large
extent, by the dynamic structure of the text and the specific features of
the interactional situations" (p.136).

In "Negotiation of irony in dialogue" (Pp. 139-148) Andreea Ghita of
University of Bucharest first analyses if irony is defensive or aggressive
in dialogue. She focuses on the 'business' of irony: the indirectness of
the statement and the participants's ironic rights and privileges. This
discussion is followed by her analysis on the negotiation of ironic
meaning to be successful in verbal business. She also explains the success
and failure of irony in respect to hearer's response and argues that "the
only validation of the communicative success of irony is the immediate
verbal response to it" (p. 144). Finally, she considers some simulated
examples for experimenting the negotiation of irony where she is
exclusively concerned with the conflicting, derogatory nature of the
ironic meaning. We can agree with her observation that irony is partially
and passively successful when the addressee does not cooperate with the
speaker's ironic game, but irony is definitely successful when the
participants share the ironic meaning entertaining the pleasure of literal
competitive complicity.

In "A case of negotiation" (Pp. 149-166) Mirka Maraldi of University of
Bologna and Anna Orlandini University of Toulouse-Le Mirail analyze the
interactive and interactional aspects of some expressions employed in
Latin to realize the aspects which are mainly applied within the
argumentative concession. They discuss the linguistic theory of
argumentation (the properties that distinguish concession from refutation
in conversational exchanges), the interface of concession and refutation
in argumentation, and the application of concession and refutation in
Latin dialogue. They show that in Latin, the "reactive moves of refutation
or concession are not introduced by the same lexical items, but they
introduce replies giving the alternative choice of closing or pursuing the
exchange" (p. 154). Also in Latin, "it happens sometimes that the same
discourse particle introduces reactive moves with different illocutionary
functions" (P. 157). Finally, they investigate the role of concession as a
rhetorical strategy and concession as a process of anticipated
negotiation. Their analysis of data shows that in Latin various strategies
come into play and find expression in different types of construction. In
both hypotactic structure (with a subordinate and a main clause) and
correlative structure the first member contains a discourse particle while
the second member is introduced by an adversative connective.

In "Silence as a tool for the negotiation of sense in multi-party
conversations" (Pp. 167-180) Michela Cortini of University of Bari is
interested to know how interactors use both 'mechanical' and 'logical'
devices in communication. Her main focus is on the phenomenon of silence
as a tool for the negotiation of sense. She uses two sets of corpus:
corpus A contains data obtained from observations and transcriptions of
ordinary life episodes while corpus B contains data from broadcast
conversations. In conversational analysis she defines various contexts of
dialogues, differentiates basic aspects of di-logue, tri-logue and
poli-logue, identifies roles of recipients in all types of 'logues',
focuses on the nature of 'conflict talk' in conversational analysis, and
observes how silence works in multi-party conversations. She is able to
draw a fine line of distinction between 'a silence constituted by context'
and ' a silence constituting the context'. Finally, she refers to 4 maxims
of Grice's (1975) Cooperative Principle and shows how violations of maxims
can effect any fruitful conversation. She observes that "every social
interaction has its rules when managing silence" (p. 178). Following her
we can understand that silence is meaningful in all kinds of conversation
and it is to be rightly interpreted by interactors and solved in some
significant meanings to decipher its sense.

In "The negotiation of affect in natural conversation" (Pp. 183-196)
Martina Drescher of University of Bayreuth presents the results of a
research project on affect in natural conversation where she concentrates
on everyday talk and the forms of affective involvement typical of this
kind of interaction. Starting with a case study, where she uses a set of
French data, she first shows how the participants, in course of their
interaction, display and negotiate the nature and intensity of their
affective involvement and how they finally come to a kind of affective
synchronization. Finally, she proposes a theoretical framework aimed at
modeling both the interactive character of affect and the linguistic
properties of the verbal manifestations of affective stance.

In "Implicit communication in political interviews" (Pp. 197-214) Gerda
Lauerbach of University of Frankfurt/Main looks into the genre of
political interviews which is particularly susceptible to implicit
communication and may be more in need of inferential enrichment than less
complex genres. She offers some remarks on the analysis of genre in
general and of the political interview in particular, and presents a
sample analysis based on an interview from the BBC coverage of the night
of the British General Elections of 1997. She uses various approaches as
well as Hasan's tripartite model (Halliday and Hasan 1985) with necessary
and required modifications to analyze genre of political interviews. After
thorough analysis of the corpus of political interviews she argues that in
their 'evasive' answers politicians transport additional implicit meanings
that can function to exert subtle influence on the interviewer's agenda
(p. 199). Her study shows that "inferential analysis uncovers a complex
web of coherence relations below the surface and points to the hidden
agendas pursued by interviewers and interviewees, collusively,
antagonistically, or both" (p. 207).

In "Negotiation of topics in professional e-mail-communication" (Pp.
215-224) Annely Rothkegel of University of Applied Sciences Hannover is
interested in the method of analyzing the information flow during a
professional conversation as it is achieved in computer mediated
communication. The ideas are mostly related to a project on specifics of
intercultural communication in international settings where e-mail
provides some kind of 'spoken' (spontaneous) conversation in terms of
written text packages. Their main interest is develop a linguistic tool
for analysis and comparison which will allow them to relate context
aspects with each other and also with respect to authentic utterances. For
this they give preference to an action-oriented model which does not
distinguish between verbal and non-verbal actions. Their study is a first
step of developing a linguistic representation of information flow in
dialogue which takes different levels of communication into account. It is
assumed that the parallelism of information and interaction allows a
better structuring of the units concerned that provides some kind of
'tertium comparationis' for the comparison of conversation strategies (p.

In "Negotiation and identity" (Pp. 225-237) Robert Maier of Utrecht
University investigates a more dynamic and important role of identity of
the participants when they are engaged in any kind of negotiation. He
suggests that various phases of negotiations and their possible
resolutions will go hand in hand with transformations of the identity of
the parties involved. From various perspectives (theoretical,
anthropological, philosophical, pragmatic, etc.) he rejects different
theories of identity and negotiation, and proposes a working definition of
identity and negotiation. He analyses various ways in which
transformations of identity are characteristic of phases of negotiations.
Quite beautifully he shows how the participants use or refer to specific
power (physical force, threats, promises, arguments, etc.) in all kinds
conflicts, fights, negotiations and debates. Finally, he is able to prove
that "during the process of interaction, and in particular in
negotiations, the (potential) power play will effect the social and
psychological aspects of identity and the process of self-identification
and categorization, and therefore transform the identity of the
participants" (p. 235). We gain much insight from his classification of
six concrete forms of power as well as from the parameters of their

In "The negotiation of relevance" (Pp. 239-252) Frank Liedtke of Rhein.
Westf. Techn. Hochschule Aachen investigates how the concept of relevance
occupies a central role in all kinds of negotiation. He discusses the
notion of relevance in a historical perspective and refers to the
contemporary approaches to the study of relevance. He argues that
relevance is something which may be negotiated between the participants of
that dialogue as well as other things. Relevance is not something which is
being fixed in advance, but something which usually is going to be
negotiated between the participants of a dialogue, i.e. "the final
ascription of a certain degree of relevance to an utterance may be the
outcome of a process of negotiation, in which the participants are
involved" (p. 244). Finally, he considers and analyses a TV-discussion
(where four literary critics are discussing a series of books that
appeared in the past) to demonstrate how the degree of relevance is
negotiated between the participants and to raise the general question
whether the transfer of the notion of negotiation form a specific context
of a legitimate dialogue or not.

In "Unspoken assertions" (Pp. 253-266) Barbara A. Emmel of University of
Muenster deals with underlying assumptions (unstated assertions) that
mostly control our discourses in shared starting points, both in speech
and writing. She defines the role of assumption in discourse and
investigates (with a model for negotiating assumptions through
conversation) how a discourse involves the negotiation of assumptions to
correlate and negotiate human positions, tasks and interests. She also
describes the role of dialogue as deep agreement, and finally, explores
the connections between dialogue and writing to reveal that while writing
can reflect local paradigms of the assumption-assertion relationship at
work and ligatures on the sentence level at work in shaping larger
understanding and meanings, speech has also multiple levels of meaning
ranging from the initiative and reactive propositional level, to a whole
conversational/narrative level, to that which is culturally-embedded and
which often remains unspoken. Her work is able to "represent how we
construct shared knowledge, shared meanings, and shared understandings
about our shared worlds, through language as a medium of sharing and
shaping..." (p. 264).

In "Negotiating social relationship: Fontane's gossip" (Pp. 267-288)
Ernest W. B. Hess-Luettich of University of Bern looks into the rhetoric
of discreet indiscretion in Theodor Fontane's society novel 'L'Adultera',
where he considers gossip as a genre of everyday talk in the study of
language and literature. His main interest is to explore how the author
creates various forms of fictive, simulated, 'literary' gossip in order to
structure the course of action, to give an indirect sketch of the
characters, to include critical comments on the society of the time, and
to aesthetically present the ways of 'negotiating social relationships'.
After defining gossip as a social frame for discreet indiscretion, he
describes the nature of gossip in Fontane's 'L'Adultera', and finally,
discusses the role of gossip in everyday life and literature. Following
the traits of his arguments probably we can agree with his observation
that "gossip appears to be an instrument of negotiating social control
which tests the rules of living together and permits disturbed balances to
be resolved" (p. 280).

After going through this volume any lover of language and linguistics will
be delighted to realize that the horizon of linguistics is gradually
widening up, and many new areas which at certain times were considered as
'untouchables' in language study are getting their due in the whole gamut
of language study and research. Such wider relevance and application of
linguistics can probably inspire us to say "where there is language there
is linguistics". The volume can be a good example to know how linguists
are redirecting their attentions to various domains of everyday linguistic
interactions to capture the wide spectrum of discourse, a central area in
linguistics research. The volume has looked into the linguistics in
negotiation, mediation, social power, bargaining, business meeting, irony,
silence, political interview, social identity, gossip, etc. We can hope
some new areas of discourse will be identified in future, and their
linguistic analysis will give us much insight to know how language are
fashioned (both active and passive way) in achieving goals. The publishing
company also deserve thanks for bringing out such a nice volume.

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Firth, A. (1995) "Introduction and Overview", in Allan Firth (ed.) The
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Grice, H. P. (1971) "Utterer's Meaning, Sentence Meaning, and Word
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Grice, H. P. (1975) "Logic and Conversation". Syntax and Semantics. (Vol.
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Dr. Niladri Sekhar Dash works as a Linguist in Computer Vision and Pattern
Recognition Unit of Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India. His
research interest includes corpus linguistics, discourse and pragmatics,
lexical semantics, lexicography, morphology, etc. Presently he is working
on corpus-based lexicography and word-sense disambiguation in Bangla.