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AUTHOR: Landone, Elena TITLE: Los marcadores del discurso y cortesía verbal en español SERIES TITLE: Linguistic Insights. Studies in Language and Communication. Vol. 116 PUBLISHER: Peter Lang YEAR: 2009
Zahir Mumin, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)
SUMMARY Landone examines the use of discourse markers and verbal politeness in Peninsular Spanish to determine potential pragmatic functions of discourse markers in regulating conversational interaction. She also analyzes specific linguistic structures used in different dialogic contexts to enhance conscious awareness of the dynamic relationship between discourse markers and verbal politeness. Most basically, then, this book aims to contribute to Spanish linguistics with an in-depth study of the aforementioned pragmatic functions and dynamic relationship.
Chapter 1 discusses relevant terminology and theories related to the use of verbal politeness in Peninsular Spanish. This chapter fundamentally argues that although theoretical models such as Grice's (1991) maxims, Locher & Watts' (2005) relational work, Fraser's (1980) conversational contract, and Brown & Levinson's (1978-1987) self-face try to precisely define verbal politeness as accepted well-mannered sociolinguistic and sociocultural norms of a certain speech community, there is still no generally accepted definition for the coherent expression of verbal politeness. This difficulty in defining verbal politeness is primarily due to the fact that conversations take place in a variety of different contexts and each must be analyzed according to the speech acts (assertive, directive, declarative, expressive, etc.) manifested between the interlocutors in addition to the aforementioned norms. For example, Landone emphasizes in her explanations of speech acts and their relevance to self-face -- the overall emotional commitment that speakers have to express themselves according to society's established norms -- that the intentions of a message's transmitter and receiver are linguistically complex and frequently change amongst different types of speech acts: ''el territorio del destinatario: principlamente los actos exhortativos, que pueden ser impositivos (ruego, súplica, mandato, orden, prohibición, etc.) ... el territorio del emisor: los actos comisivos, como: oferta, compromiso, promesa, etc.'' (“the addressee’s territory: principally, the exhortative acts which can be domineering (beg, plea, command, order, prohibition, etc.) ... the transmitter’s territory: the commissive acts such as offer, commitment, promise, etc.”, p.53). The transmitter's and the receiver's conversational territory embodies characteristics of both negative and positive face. Positive face refers to the general approval of the values and desires expressed amongst interlocutors and negative face questions the verisimilitude of these values and desires. Landone further shows how complex verbal politeness is by examining the tone of communication between two interlocutors in her discussion of Grice's (1991) cooperative principle which supports the efficient transmission of relevant information. The author also argues that there is often ''contextual'' competition between politeness and cooperation in which politeness ends up being a more appropriate choice. For example, the following two statements from Escandell Vidal (1996, p.139) about weight loss are compared to closely examine the aforementioned competition:
Enunciado cortés: -Sin duda a todos nos convendría hacer un poco más de ejercicio y perder algo de peso Statement of politeness:-Without a doubt it would be better for all of us to do a little bit more exercise and lose some weight.
Enunciado cooperativo: -Estás gordísima Statement of cooperation: -You are very fat.
Although the first statement, the statement of politeness, violates Grice's maxims of relevance, quantity, quality, and manner, it is pragmatically appropriate because it adequately expresses inoffensive feelings. On the other hand, the statement of cooperation satisfies Grice's maxims, but violates the use of verbal politeness because of the offensive expression of unhappy feelings. The author emphasizes that examining the linguistic manifestation of conversational interaction helps to determine the extent to which verbal politeness can be achieved in different contexts.
Chapter 2 deals with the use of discourse markers in written and oral monologues and argues that the functions of the above-mentioned discourse markers are pragmatically limited to being informative, inferential, and argumentative. The author begins the chapter by presenting definitions and concepts to describe and analyze the conversational aspects of discourse markers in different types of monologues. For example, Landone emphasizes that the functionalist approach attempts to explain how discourse markers function according to context specific situations, the discourse analysis/conversational analysis approach examines the role that discourse markers play in oral discourse, and the contrastive focus analyzes discourse markers used in two different translated monologues to compare the functional use of these markers. One of the reasons discourse markers used in monologues are typically informative, inferential, or argumentative in Peninsular Spanish is that there is often a lack of active conversational exchange between two or more interlocutors and the sole speaker controls the strategic use of discourse markers (Llorente Arcocha, 1996). This strategic use of discourse markers often subjectively informs readers, makes unilateral inferences, and one-sided arguments in order to benefit the sole interlocutor who is telling a story. Although the author does not provide specific examples of how these discourse markers are used in monologues in this chapter, she does identify common discourse markers in Peninsular Spanish used to inform, infer, and argue: es que “It’s just that” (inform), por lo visto “apparently” (infer), and claro “exactly” (argue). This chapter's focus on the use of discourse markers in oral and written monologues establishes a solid pragmatic background for chapter 3's discussion of dialogues.
Chapter 3 focuses on the use of discourse markers in conversational interactions that deal with written and oral dialogues. The author argues that interpersonal conversation in dialogue contexts include not only the informative, inferential, and argumentative aspects of monologue contexts but also relational and interactive dimensions. The relational dimension refers to the extent to which the transmitter is able to convey messages that orientate said transmitter and receiver to the pragmatic context of the conversation. Bustos Tovar (2000) reemphasizes the importance of relational dialogue in Peninsular Spanish: ''En términos bajtianianos, la dialogicidad es una orientación: la palabra siempre tiene una doble orientación, hacia el emisor [y] hacia su destinatario'' (“In layman’s terms, dialogue is an orientation: the message always has a double orientation toward the transmitter [and] toward his or her addressee” p.421). In addition to this two-sided conversational orientation, the interactive dimension directly relates to the relational dimension because in order for interlocutors to effectively establish the pragmatic contexts of conversation using discourse markers, they must keep the conversation more active and lively by using discourse strategies such as linking broken statements, topicalizing, extrasentential cohesion, and relevant digressions. Landone further explains in her semantic chart that the four main purposes of using discourse markers in dialogical contexts are to structure information, reformulate statements to make them more pragmatically appropriate, and connect and solidify different arguments in order to achieve common ground between interlocutors. The structuring of information is one of the more important purposes of discourse markers and Calsamiglia & Tusón (1999), Cortés Rodríguez (2001), and Cortés Rodríguez & Camacho Adarve (2005) provide the following examples of discourse markers used in Peninsular Spanish dialogue contexts to help initiate, continue, and close conversations, and attract interlocutors' attention: “¿sabes qué?, bueno mira, vale, así pues, [and] y ya está ...” (“You know what?, Well look here, okay, so, [and] and that’s all ...” p.144). The author also argues that in addition to these examples, there are a lot of other discourse markers which are used and this use often depends on how interlocutors attempt to, if at all, express some degree of verbal politeness. Although no extensive pragmatic connection is made between using discourse markers in dialogues and verbal politeness, it is clear that the presence of verbal politeness in dialogue contexts depends on various factors such as dialect, diaphasic, and diastratic variation.
Chapter 4 discusses Caffi & Janney's (1994) and Briz Gómez's (1998) psycholinguistic theories of proximity and negotiating agreement and Müller (2006), Verschueren (2002), and Ballesteros Martín (2002) for pragmalinguistic theories of intensity and specificity. The author argues that the theory of proximity helps explain why verbal politeness in Peninsular Spanish is very pragmatically complex because there is no specific way to determine the extent to which perlocutory acts have been accomplished by interlocutors. To further explain this, Landone identifies the following two proximity categories that have shown a pragmatic continuum between the first category and the last category in previous studies on perlocution: politeness distancing and politeness closure. In regards to negotiating agreement, the author argues that the purpose of transmitters is to not only negotiate the pragmatic contexts of the conversation content but also to convince or persuade receivers of a certain point of view. The author does not specify the possible effects of verbal politeness with regard to negotiating agreement, but it is clear that language behavior of transmitters is primarily characterized by objectives, argumentation, and negotiation of mutual agreements. On the other hand, regarding the intensity theory, the author specifically argues that the pragmatic markedness of varying levels of verbal politeness is often modulated through the use of different speech acts such as requests and orders: ''Suéltame, por favor (petición) [and] ¡Suéltame, imbécil! (orden)'' (“Let me go, please (request) [and] Let me go, imbecile! (order)” p.190). In addition, the author argues that specificity theory, the extent to which interlocutors demonstrate referential precision through word use, is more related to proximity theory than intensity theory because interlocutors often use evidentiary expressions such as “No sé, Supongo que [and] Parece que” “I don’t know, I suppose that, [and] It seems that” (p.229) to help them maintain a certain pragmatic distance between their personal knowledge and specific known or unknown facts. This chapter makes clear that when these theories are applied to different pragmatic contexts, there may be varying levels of verbal politeness or no clear expression of verbal politeness.
Chapter 5 discusses the direct relationship between discourse markers and the aforementioned theories (see above), arguing that in addition to the pragmatic use of discourse markers, the syntactic structure and lexical repetition of these markers and changes of contexts in conversations amongst interlocutors demonstrate different aspects of proximity, negotiating agreement, intensity, and specificity and sometimes enhance the expression of verbal politeness. The author provides many examples from use to support this argument. For example, in the case of proximity theory, the author provides these examples from Fuentes Rodríguez (1990) & Matte Bon (1992). Here, the discourse marker ''fíjate'' is used at the end of a sentence to confirm known information and at the beginning of a sentence to focus attention on details:
Tu padre quizá no lo sepa todavía, fíjate (p. 252) Your father perhaps still does not know about it, you know what I mean.
Y fíjate que está esperando que la llames ... Si no ¿por qué me dijo eso? (p. 252) And as I thought, he is waiting for you to call her ... if not, why did he tell me that?
Although these two examples do not appear to overtly express verbal politeness, the first clearly shows a case of politeness closure while the second demonstrates politeness distancing. Overall, this chapter enhances the book by developing explanations of dialogue contexts to explain how psycholinguistic and pragmalinguistic theories are related to discourse markers and verbal politeness.
Chapter 6 concludes by discussing the importance of applying psycholinguistic and pragmalinguistic theories to the use of discourse markers and verbal politeness. The author argues that one should not assume that discourse markers automatically denote some level of politeness or impoliteness: ''un marcador, como todo recurso lingüístico, no es inherentemente cortés o descortés. Más bien, es el hablante quien lo asocia, más o menos convencionalmente, a sus intenciones de cortesía verbal'' (“a marker, just like any other linguistic resource, is not inherently polite or impolite. More importantly, it is the speaker who associates it [the discourse marker] more or less conventionally to his or her intentions of verbal politeness” p.338). The discourse marker itself cannot always determine the presence of verbal politeness; the interlocutor's communicative competence regarding a certain speech community's linguistic, cultural, and social norms determines how receivers pragmatically decode any possible expression of verbal politeness.
EVALUATION Chapters 1-3 provide readers with ample and precise definitions and descriptions that help to ground the book's analysis of discourse markers and verbal politeness in chapters 4 and 5. For example, in chapter 1 when Landone argues that verbal politeness includes the subcategories of formulaic politeness and non-formulaic politeness, she precisely defines the former as unmarked shared social conventions amongst interlocutors and the latter as marked strategic, flexible, and creative social conventions that may not be shared amongst interlocutors. Chapter 2 provides another excellent example by using Portolés Lazaro's (1993) semantic/pragmatic list to describe different types of discourse markers: “marcadores de digresión, marcadores de inferencias paralelas, marcadores de inversión referencial ...” (“markers of digression, markers of parallel inference, and markers of referential inversion ...” p.109). Chapter 3 also provides readers with descriptive lists, but these examples describe different types of dialogues included in the relational dimension of oral and written dialogue analysis: “interactividad simultánea y espontánea ... interactividad no espontánea o no simultánea ... interactividad monogestionada simultánea ... interactividad monogestionada no simultánea ...” (“simultaneous and spontaneous interactivity ... non-spontaneous and non-simultaneous interactivity ... simultaneous mono-gesture interactivity ... and non-simultaneous mono-gesture interactivity ...” (pp.133-134). Although these three chapters provide readers with solid concept definitions and descriptions, they are lacking examples of oral and written monologue or dialogue contexts that can enhance the explanation of these concepts.
This book deals extensively with psycholinguistics, pragmalinguistics, and verbal politeness in Chapter 4 without taking into account the pragmatic/interactive relationship between verbal politeness and discourse markers. Chapters 4 and 5 could have been combined to let readers internalize how this pragmatic/interactive relationship relates to psycholinguistic and pragmalinguistic theories. For example, in the case of “¿Me puedes dejar los apuntes del tema 2?, por favor” “Can you let me borrow the notes from topic 2, please?”(Díaz Pérez, 2003, p.214) when ''por favor'' is used as a discourse marker in chapter 5 to express verbal politeness, the pragmatic/interactive relationship between discourse marker and verbal politeness relates to the psycholinguistic theory of proximity. The transmitter strategically distances him/herself from his/her knowledge about the notes according to the interactional contexts in order to attempt to persuade the receiver to take on the obligation of providing notes for the transmitter.
Chapter 6 appropriately summarizes the content of the previous chapters by discussing the relevance of pragmalinguistic and psycholinguistic theories and the potential interrelatedness of discourse markers and verbal politeness in different contextual situations of monologues and dialogues. The author provides useful research questions that could lead to future projects: “¿Por qué el hablante selecciona un marcador del discurso y no otro dentro de una estrategia de cortesía verbal?” (“Why does the speaker select one discourse marker and not the other within a strategic framework of verbal politeness?” p.337). In order to be able to answer this question, quantitative and qualitative studies of Peninsular Spanish will need to be conducted across different speech communities. This would determine not only if there is sociopragmatic variation in the choosing of certain discourse markers that express verbal politeness in certain contexts, but also how social factors such as age, sex, education level, and social class affect interlocutors' discourse marker choices.
This book overall provides a solid descriptive pragmatic background dealing with discourse markers, verbal politeness, and psycholinguistic and pragmalinguistic theories. It targets readers interested in sociolinguistic or sociopragmatic studies that can help explain why and how interlocutors use discourse markers to express verbal politeness.
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ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Zahir Mumin teaches Spanish courses at the University at Albany, State
University of New York and conducts research in the field of linguistics.
His primary research interests include sociolinguistics, phonology,
phonetics, translation, language acquisition, language contact,
bilingualism, multilingualism, language change, and historical linguistics.