Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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EDITORS: Jucker, Andreas H.; Irma Taavitsainen TITLE: Historical Pragmatics SERIES TITLE: Handbooks of Pragmatics 8 PUBLISHER: De Gruyter Mouton YEAR: 2010
Joanna Kopaczyk, School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland
This volume dedicated to historical pragmatics is edited by Andreas H. Jucker and Irma Taavitsainen (henceforth J&T). 21 individual contributions, mostly by leading scholars in the field, are arranged into six thematic areas: (II) data and methodology, (III) diachrony, (IV) pragmaphilology, micropragmatics (V), interactional pragmatics (VI), and selected discourse domains (VII). Thus, the volume takes the reader from more general theoretical and methodological processes of language change resulting from pragmatic phenomena, through surveys of Chaucerian and Shakespearean pragmatic research, and form-to-function and function-to-form mappings of smaller pragmatic phenomena, to aspects of interaction and the domains of discourse most widely studied from a historical pragmatic perspective. Each chapter can be consulted on its own for an overview of a given subfield. In the majority of chapters, the authors make links to other contributions so that the reader is guided towards exploring multi-faceted phenomena from various angles. The volume ends with bio-notes about the authors, and useful indexes of subjects, names and languages.
In the Introduction (I), J&T present the field of historical pragmatics and its rampant expansion within the last 15 years. It is justified to say that this is the fastest-growing area of historical linguistics and its popularity points towards a change in thinking about language. The editors identify key problem areas in their discipline, as well as three main strands: 1) pragmaphilology, 2) diachronic development of language use, and 3) communicative causes of language change. Out of these three, the scope of pragmaphilology seems conceptually underdeveloped (see below). The editors also make a distinction between the two major traditions in historical pragmatics: Anglo-American (structure-oriented) and Continental (sensitive to social aspects of language use). In the volume, only section III stems from the Anglo-American perspective, as the whole series of ''Handbooks of Pragmatics'' stresses the connection between language use and social context.
Section II on data and methodology starts with Merja Kytö's useful guide to electronic resources for historical pragmatics: multi-genre and specialized corpora, dictionaries and atlases, electronic text collections and editions. The rise of corpus methods is linked with the increase in historical linguistic inquiries. The other chapter in section II (by Jonathan Culpeper) advocates recognition of historical sociopragmatics as a useful framework for analyzing language use in context. Its separate status works only in the narrower, Anglo-American view of pragmatics, as the Continental school already includes the social aspect in its scope. Culpeper draws attention to the crossroads between sociolinguistics and pragmatics: the former is interested in stable variables and the latter in dynamic ones. He recognizes the need for a solid theoretical base to interpret phenomena in historical pragmatics.
The third section stems from the linguistically-oriented approach to historical pragmatics and deals with pragmatic causes of language change. Elizabeth C. Traugott gives a detailed overview of grammaticalization, making reference to two major approaches to this phenomenon: grammaticalization as reduction of structure and grammaticalization as expansion of functions. Major focus is placed on grammaticalization born out of interaction and subjectivity in view of semantic and pragmatic ambiguities. In her chapter, María José López-Couso sketches a wide historical background to the linguistic discussion of (inter)subjectivity, and gives much space to Traugott (pp. 129-143). She explains, however, why (inter)subjectification and grammaticalization should be kept apart. This chapter is a voice in the ongoing debate over the role of self and subjective interpretations and intentions in language change. López-Couso suggests quantification methods, rather than only intuitive judgments in the study of the effects of (inter)subjectification. The chapter on pragmaticalization and discursization, by Claudia Claridge and Leslie Arnovick, starts with a definition of pragmatics, as this is the realm into which pragmaticalized elements enter. Their definition is wide and goes beyond the 'Anglo-American' approach. Pragmaticalization is not easy to define because it is a relatively fresh concept; practically all of the case studies presented in this chapter could qualify as grammaticalization in the wide view propagated by Traugott. The other process discussed in this chapter, discursization, is perceived as the second stage of pragmaticalization. The authors claim that discursization should be distinguished as a separate stage, as it goes hand in hand with de-institutionalization and enables pragmatic reinforcement, for instance, in turning an expression from a simple illocutionary act into a contextually determined act of politeness (e.g. 'bless you!'). Section III closes with a contribution from Brigitte Nerlich on metaphor and metonymy as contextual phenomena which drive language change. The chapter presents the background of historical pragmatics from a philosophical and epistemological angle, with special attention paid to metaphor and metonymy as ''pragmatic strategies'' (p. 194). In Nerlich's view, metaphor and metonymy evolve in ''situated pragmatic language use'' (p. 201) in a specific situational and cultural context and work as mechanisms of adapting language to new conditions.
Section IV consists of two chapters on pragmatic aspects in the writings of two literary giants: Chaucer (Mari Pakkala-Weckström) and Shakespeare (Ulrich Busse and Beatrix Busse). Both chapters contain overviews of relevant historical pragmatic studies. Pakkala-Weckström starts with an informative diagram presenting the coverage of Chaucer's oeuvre by various historical pragmaticians, which shows a large degree of incompatibility among the studies in terms of their textual base. The discussion continues with a bio section on Chaucer and his works. Studies of Chaucer's texts recalled by Pakkala-Weckström concentrate mostly on features of literary dialogue and genre characteristics. An important question emerging in this chapter is the reliability of literary texts in terms of language representation, and their applicability for specific research queries. In Busse and Busse's chapter on Shakespeare, editorial issues are also considered. Historical pragmatic studies based on Shakespeare's writings have approached language use from multiple angles: speech acts, politeness, discourse markers, stylistic devices, pronominal address forms and multifarious vocative expressions, their correlation with genre and textual structure, etc. However, as was the case with Chaucerian studies, scholars often select only a fraction of available texts. However, the Shakespeare corpus is complete, so it may serve in full as a comprehensive base for investigation, especially in its electronic version, available soon (Neuhaus forthcoming).
Section V is devoted to micropragmatic phenomena. Brinton concentrates on discourse markers and defines them on the basis of formal, semantic and cognitive similarities. The chapter provides a very informative overview of synchronic and diachronic studies on discourse markers, concentrating on the processes responsible for their emergence and obsolescence (grammaticalization, pragmaticalization, links to negative politeness and generic requirements). The next chapter cuts across different genres and chronological periods, and shows that interjections are pertinent to human linguistic behavior, stable in historical terms, and recognizable on the basis of overall human experience. Elke Gehweiler treats interjections as a ''word class'' (p. 315), but at the same time, notices categorical and functional overlaps. She lists major swearing domains and presents function-to-form as well as form-to-function studies. In the following chapter, Gabriella Mazzon discusses address terms including pronouns, and nominal and phrasal terms. She starts with a review of research with a sociolinguistic bent, and makes reference to the advantages of computerized corpora in view of previous scholarship being based mostly on literary texts. The author draws attention to elaborate pronominal address systems in various languages, and discusses the sources of deferential pronouns, as well as the dissolution of the two-form 2nd person pronominal reference in English. In terms of nominal and phrasal address, attention is paid to their grammaticalization and formulaic nature, as well as the situational and social context influencing the selection of a specific expression.
In section VI, the reader enters the realm of interactional pragmatics, which may be seen as the core of the discipline. Dawn Archer focuses her attention on the recent trends in (im)politeness studies transported into historical texts and contexts. The beginning of the chapter tries to capture the nature of speech acts and sketches the history of inquiry into this phenomenon. The rest of the chapter is a systematic and illustrative overview of possible approaches to directives, commissives and expressives, and of methodologies, including technical issues of manual and automatic corpus extraction. The next chapter, by Minna Nevala, deals both with politeness and impoliteness. The author provides a wide overview of critical approaches to the notions of face, power and distance, also from the perspective of historical studies. When it comes to impoliteness, this attack on face eludes systematic classifications because it is not normative in nature. However, it can be successfully placed on a gradual scale of verbal aggression gravity (Archer 2008). To continue the topic of linguistic conflict, the reader moves on to the chapter on controversies by Gerd Fritz. This is a largely untouched area which shows how knowledge has been advanced through public debate, and raises pragmatic interest in rules followed by participants. This valuable inquiry provides comparative material for other situations of verbal conflict, such as literary dialogues or everyday insults. It also sketches a historical background of the European philosophical tradition of dispute and the technological and social conditions of a given era as conducive to specific forms and topics of verbal argument. The author concentrates on public discourse of the 16th -18th centuries, when controversies flourished in Europe. An interesting distinction is introduced between diachronic and evolutionary pragmatics. The former, according to Fritz, would compare forms of a given type of controversy from different periods, while the latter would emphasize the historical conditions in which a controversy was voiced, and how its form was influenced by these conditions. In the next chapter, Marcel Bax reviews the field of verbal ritual. As ritual escapes easy definitions, this chapter is clearly multidisciplinary. For instance, Bax points to the links between ritualistic behavior and the cognitive and linguistic evolution of humans (as opposed to other species in the animal kingdom, pp. 492, 494-495). To capture rituals from a pragmatic point of view, Bax decides to marry the ''grand theories'' (p. 504) with actual data. He successfully employs Jucker and Taavitsainen's ''pragmatic space model'' (pp. 505-506) and moves on to the records of ritual available to historical linguists. At the end, Bax makes an interesting suggestion that increased politeness sensitivity in the early modern period is a kind of rationalized ritual strategy of self-presentation.
The final section of the volume (VII) presents selected discourse domains which have so far attracted the most interest in historical pragmatics. Religious discourse, discussed by Thomas Kohnen, is characterized by the existence of a special, often multi-genre, authoritative text, such as the Bible in the Christian religion, and by a continuous textual tradition. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of religious texts is the correlation of textual functions with different genres. Kohnen points to earlier oral and ritualistic practices reflected in performative verbs outside secular discourse domains. Other issues include the use of the vernacular and the impact of religious texts on society. The field of science is presented in a very structured manner by Päivi Pahta and Irma Taavitsainen. They start with ''the pragmatics of scientific writing'' (pp. 549-551) and stress the connection between social developments (e.g. vernacularization of science) and their reflection in communication. Three major issues come to the forefront: discourse forms and practices within a community, genre conventions and their dynamic nature, and rhetorical strategies, such as persuasion. Even though medicine is the central area of this chapter, it branches off to other fields like physics, anatomy, chemistry, and even theology and history. Socio-historical background, including Latin and vernacular literacy, education and dissemination of knowledge, is also considered. Finally, the authors move to data and research methods. They show how historical pragmatics can use quantitative and qualitative methods, corpus tools, and also methodologies imported from studies on present-day language use. The next chapter, by Claudia Claridge, provides a thorough overview of news discourse, the goals and themes of the news, the socio-historical circumstances in which the news started functioning as a clearly delineated discourse domain, and strategies for speech presentation, attribution and evaluation. The author does not limit herself to newspapers; she also explores other obsolete modes of communicating the news. The author admits that the presentation is selective because this field of discourse has not been studied in its entirety yet. Unlike Claridge's contribution, the chapter on courtroom discourse by Kathleen L. Doty deals with only a section of a much larger and well-studied field: legal discourse. In this chapter, the emphasis is on the interactive character of courtroom discourse: roles of the participants and their interaction captured in different genres. The author stresses the importance of the socio-historical setting and the character of the judicial system of the period and place. Special character of speech acts and politeness strategies in courtroom discourse are illustrated with summaries of several selected papers. The next wide discourse area is correspondence, explored by Minna Palander-Collin. An important theme in this chapter is the application of corpora in the study of letters and the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods. The chapter focuses on the social dimension of correspondence. From a larger discourse perspective, there is a section on the technical and material characteristics of letters, as well as the birth of the postal service. The double nature of letters - conventional and idiosyncratic at the same time - has also been addressed. The last chapter of the volume goes back to literary discourse. This time, Susan Fitzmaurice draws a very structured picture of this complex multi-genre field of discourse. Fitzmaurice writes her chapter with the audience of the whole volume in mind (p. 681) and shows how literature may provide useful material for those linguistically, as well as philosophically, inclined towards historical pragmatics. As for research topics, micropragmatic and macropragmatic considerations are inspected. In the section on research methods, there are two trends again: the qualitative stylistic and philological approach, and quantitative corpus studies. The author questions the validity of present-day grammatical categories for searches in historic texts, as well as decontextualization in corpus searches. In opposition, qualitative studies work on selected representatives of texts, setting them against a richly documented historical, social and cultural milieu. Finally, Fitzmaurice considers all major pragmatic theoretical frameworks, from implicatures to speech acts, from the historical literary discourse perspective.
This bulky collection of chapters, exploring the most important areas in historical pragmatics, is a testimony to how this field of linguistics has grown and in which directions it is heading. The contributions provide links with sociolinguistics, stylistics, rhetoric, ethnology, history and other fields. The discipline had started off as a study of English historical texts but very soon spread to other languages and cultures. While the widening geographical span deserves appreciation, a critical remark should nevertheless be made about the historically inept classification of Scots as Scottish English. I cannot agree that the Helsinki Corpus of Older Scots is a corpus ''documenting the early stages of regional varieties of English'' (Kytö's chapter on data, p. 41), placing it in the same box as Irish English or Canadian English. To be precise, this language gets mentioned as 'Scots' (pp. 381 and 395), which has not been indexed.
In an overview volume, one is forced to maintain balance between theoretical considerations and an illustration of the breadth of the field. Here, this balance has been tipped in the direction of an illustrative overview of historical pragmatics at the expense of theory and methodology. Sociohistorical pragmatics is not the only field which requires a careful analysis from the point of view of its interests and methods. A similar chapter would be needed specifically for pragmaphilology, which does not seem to have a coherent definition in the volume. In the Introduction we find a continuation of the original version of Jacobs and Jucker's definition (1995): pragmaphilology is a study of ''language use in earlier periods'' which pays attention to ''the social and cultural contexts in which the language is used'' (p. 12). In the first programmatic book on historical pragmatics (Jacobs and Jucker 1995), the section on pragmaphilology included contributions which were not limited to literary texts. In the present volume, one gets the impression that pragmaphilology deals with literature only, and this application of the label never gets proper clarification. Many contributions in the volume (Gehweiler, Archer, Mazzon, and all contributions in Section VII) are saturated with pragmaphilological considerations even though the framework of pragmaphilology is not mentioned explicitly.
Parts of the book deal with well-established areas within pragmatics. The area of law is so multifaceted that the scope of Doty's chapter does not do it justice, as the author admits herself (p. 622). She does not, however, really justify her narrow perspective. It seems to me that because the language of the courtroom is clearly interactive, it has become an uncontested representation of the whole field of law. It needn't be so. What hasn't been problematized in the volume, but probably should be, is the emphasis on speech of the past. Written discourse in its own right does not get as much attention. Another underrepresented area of language in use is humor, which could be given a separate chapter. Historical pragmatics is evolving, which is why some authors claim underrepresentation of their topic (Claridge). At the end of every contribution there is a plea for further research, so hopefully current gaps can be filled in the future.
Key concepts should be outlined at the beginning of every chapter, just like Claridge and Arnovick do. The same should be done with 'grammar' in the chapter on grammaticalization, as the key issue in section III is how scholars understand the scope of grammar and the scope of pragmatics.
More control could have been exercised as to the assumed knowledge of historical pragmatics and linguistics in general. For example, Gehweiler defines apostrophe while Nerlich doesn't define metaphor.
As befits a state-of-the-art overview, there is sensitivity to new media, new resources and technological advances which change the character of available data and research tools. Kytö's chapter on data is entirely devoted to electronic resources even though the author points to pragmatic questions which cannot be easily turned into a computer query. This aspect should have been given much more attention in a general chapter on data. Kytö's discussion of corpora is very comprehensive, but the list of scholarly electronic editions and other sources is a bit selective. For instance, the Canterbury Tales Project (Robinson 2003) is never mentioned, and neither is the Dictionary of the Scots Language, even though Kytö discusses other Scots corpora. Though there is an impressive range of weblinks, some do not work (details can be provided on request). I would suggest adding consistent information about free access, as some of the resources mentioned in the chapter require costly subscriptions. Palander-Collin accepts that using manuscripts to produce correspondence corpora is ''hardly practicable'' (p. 666), and so does Kytö (p. 50). This sounds, perhaps, slightly defeatist, especially in light of Scottish correspondence corpora (Meurman-Solin 2007, Dossena and Drury in preparation).
Another aspect to consider in terms of a database is the quality of literary data employed in historical pragmatics. It should be admitted that, in essence, literary language is an artificial construct and may or may not represent features of linguistic usage. Pakkala-Weckström seems to be aware of this problem but still adopts a rather traditional solution and decides to rely on the authoritative Riverside edition of ''The Canterbury Tales'', rather than the state-of-the-art electronic editions prepared by the Canterbury Tales Project (Robinson 2003). These diplomatic transcripts of all available manuscripts represent the multiple manuscript reality simultaneously, giving a scholar the possibility to compare versions and to avoid treating an amalgam of editorial choices as the 'real' text.
Gehweiler mentions ''a chapter on corpus linguistics, this volume'' (p. 333), but there is no such chapter. Kytö's chapter on data presents corpus tools but she does not go into statistical methods at all. Such a synthesis of specific research tools and methods would, indeed, be of use, as it could suggest appropriate tools for specific research questions. Since modern linguistic tools are applied in historical pragmatic studies, some authors are duly concerned with the applicability of the uniformitarian principle (Archer, Doty). Fitzmaurice makes an important observation that the original interpretation of specific linguistic behavior may have been much different than our modern attitudes evoked by the same linguistic choices (p. 695).
All the authors aim at providing a thorough overview of research and the most important publications on a given subtopic of historical pragmatics (extensive reference sections in most chapters). However, the contributions exhibit various degrees of detail and abstractness. Some read like extended annotated bibliographies, especially Doty's chapter on courtroom discourse. Her overview of literature on legal language comes across as uncritical. It may be claimed that Mellinkoff's seminal monograph (1963) ''remains a helpful overview of the characteristics of legal language, particularly its lexis'' (p. 623), but as a 50-year-old work of a non-linguist, it should be approached with caution. Some scholars tend to summarize their own research while disregarding other contributions to the field. For instance, Traugott discusses grammaticalization of 'since' (p. 100) on the basis of Traugott and König (1991), while she could have mentioned more recent research which develops her ideas (e.g. Molencki (2007)). Concentrating on intersubjectivity and its relation to pragmatic markers, López-Couso could have made reference to Culpeper and Kytö (2010), where a whole chapter is devoted to discourse markers in dialogic contexts, illuminating the discussion with new data from the Corpus of English Dialogues. Talking about cultural and social interpretations and about the proposals of a universal theory of politeness (pp. 421-422), Nevala should have made reference to Wierzbicka (2003 ) and/or her earlier research on cultural correlations of politeness strategies.
Setting aside some critical comments, which are bound to appear with regard to a volume of such magnitude, one should agree with the editors that ''the future of the discipline looks bright'' (p. 24). This volume is the best testimony to its vigorous condition.
Archer, Dawn. 2008. ''Verbal aggression and impoliteness: Related or synonymous?'', in Derek Bousfield and Miriam A. Locher (eds.) Impoliteness in language: Studies in its interplay with power in theory and practice. Berlin / New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 181-208.
Culpeper, Jonathan and Merja Kytö. 2010. Early modern English dialogues. Spoken interaction as writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dossena, Marina and Richard Drury. (in preparation). A corpus of nineteenth-century Scottish correspondence. University of Bergamo.
Jacobs, Andreas and Andreas H. Jucker. 1995. ''The historical perspective in pragmatics'', in Andreas H. Jucker (ed.), 3-33.
Jucker, Andreas H. (ed.) 1995. Historical pragmatics. Pragmatic developments in the history of English. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Mellinkoff, David. 1963. The language of the law. Boston: Little, Brown.
Meurman-Solin, Anneli. 2007. Manual to the Corpus of Scottish Correspondence. University of Helsinki. < http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/csc/manual/contents.html>
Molencki, Rafał. 2007. ''The evolution of since medieval English'', in: Ursula Lenker and Anneli Meurman-Solin (eds.) Connectives in the history of English. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 97-113.
Robinson, Peter. 2003. ''The history, discoveries and aims of the Canterbury Tales Project'', The Chaucer Review 38:2, 126-139.
Neuhaus, H. Joachim. Forthcoming. Shakespeare database. http://www.shkspr.uni-muenster.de
Traugott, Elizabeth C. and Ekkehard König. 1991. ''The semantics-pragmatics of grammaticalization revisited'', in Elizabeth C. Traugott and Bernd Heine (eds.) Approaches to grammaticalization. Vol.2. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 189-218.
Wierzbicka, Anna. 2003 . Cross-cultural pragmatics: The semantics of human interaction. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Joanna Kopaczyk holds a PhD in English historical linguistics. Her research
interests include the history of Scots and historical discourse analysis.
She published a monograph on south-western Middle Scots (Peter Lang, 2004).
Currently, she is working on a book on textual standardization in the
language of Scottish burghs (1380-1560). Her materials consist of Middle
Scots administrative and legal discourse and she is using the method of
lexical bundles for extracting fixed chunks of discourse for structural and
functional interpretation. Her research is supported by a post-doctoral
grant from the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (N N104 014337).