LINGUIST List 24.787

Wed Feb 13 2013

Review: Ling & Literature; Text/Corpus Ling; Translation: Głaz et al. (2012)

Editor for this issue: Monica Macaulay <monicalinguistlist.org>



Date: 01-Jan-2013
From: Elena Gheorghita <for.elenagmail.com>
Subject: What’s in a Text? Inquiries into the Textual Cornucopia
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-3774.html

EDITOR: Adam GłazEDITOR: Hubert KowalewskiEDITOR: Anna WeremczukTITLE: What’s in a Text? Inquiries into the Textual CornucopiaPUBLISHER: Cambridge Scholars PublishingYEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Elena Gheorghita, State University of Moldova

SUMMARY

This volume is a collection of articles based on presentations made at theInternational Postgraduate Linguistic Conference, which was organized at MariaCurie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland, in September 2010.

The volume is divided into five parts.

Part I, entitled “Text as a Problem,” comprises four chapters. The firstchapter, authored by Catherine Emmott and Anthony Sanford, examines the useand interpretation of linguistic devices which control a reader’s level ofattention to specific parts of a text. The research described in this articlesupplements previous stylistic and linguistic research on attention, andprovides evidence for ways specific language features affect readers. Theauthors present different methodologies for studying the effect of linguisticdevices. The second chapter, by Elzbieta Tabakowska, is a corpus-illustratedstudy, presenting sample analyses of selected titles of press editorials andcolumns. The author elucidates her idea that a title often fulfils most of thecriteria of textuality, and its conciseness in fact sharpens the view ofrelevant textual phenomena. The titles analysed in the article reveal multiplelevels of meaning, which are present in the title, but not always evoked byreaders-translators, which affects the process of translation. The author ofchapter 3, Joanna Jablonska-Hood, deals with the notion of humorous text andcontext as seen through the perspective of Conceptual Integration Theory. Theauthor suggests that the process of conceptual integration, also known asblending, can explain the constituents of humorous text and context. The lastchapter of this part, by Konrad Zysko, presents a cognitive analysis of theselected examples of malapropisms and eggcorns in ‘Automated Alice’ by JeffNoon, which will prove especially useful for anyone dealing with the problemof translation of humour and word-play.

Part II, entitled “Text as a Means of Doing Things,” is composed of fivechapters. The first, by Anna Erlikhman and Yaroslav Melnyk, is dedicated tothe study of implicit evaluation in speech acts. The second, by OlessyaCherkhava, deals with linguistic and discursive characteristics of biblicaland prophetic texts, giving a definition of fideistic discourse, which is atype of institutional discourse that reflects socially and culturally groundedmythological and religious ideas of people in a particular period of history.The following chapter, authored by Joanna Szczepanska-Wloch, elucidates thereasons why politicians make use of rhetorical means, figures and tropes, suchas metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, etc. We observe a blend of ‘grand’,‘middle’, and ‘low’ styles and various games, played in order to convince theaudience of something, not only in the images projected by discourse, but alsoin the choice of words and in the way their meaning is shaped. The chapter byIman Rasti analyses how questions are employed by second language students intheir argumentative essays, based on a corpus of 220 short argumentativeessays produced by Iranian EFL writers. Malgorzata Janik, in her chapter,approaches the linguistic problem of narration and the identity of thestory-tellers in Samuel Beckett’s novels: “Molloy”, “Malone Dies” and “TheUnnamable”. She reaches the conclusion that the struggle of the narrativevoices of the trilogy to find their identity is doomed to failure, as neitherthe true nature of ‘I’ nor the outside world (at least in the world ofBeckett) are to be recognized and known in language.

Part III, entitled “Text as a Repository: Literature,” consists of threechapters. Katarzyna Stadnik’s investigation, which opens this part, focuses onthe question of how speakers’ understanding of their interaction with theworld and their inner lives is encoded in language. The author illustrates heranalysis using Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale”, paying special attention to theoccurrences of Middle English *moten ‘must’. The next chapter, by AllaGnatiuk, examines the deontic and epistemic use of ‘can’, ‘cannot’, ‘could’and ‘could not’ in two samples of contemporary fiction in English, namely DaleBrown’s “Rogue Forces” and Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight”. The author appliesthe method of correlation analysis to discover the statistical correlationbetween the deontic and epistemic meaning of the modals that she investigated.The statistics make evident the comparatively weaker epistemic nature of‘can’ and ‘cannot’, the medium epistemic content of ‘can’ and ‘could’ and thestrong epistemic content of ‘could not’. The data provide a good indicationof the way the modals that were studied function in English-language fictionin general. The chapter authored by Dorota Gorzycka is a preliminary studythat explores the types and functions of diminutives in English. The materialfor analysis is taken from Dan Brown’s novel ‘The Da Vinci Code’. Statisticaldata related to the types of diminutives in the novel are presented, followedby an analysis of diminutive functions identified in the data.

Part IV, entitled “Text as a Repository: Corpora,” contains threecontributions. Ulf Magnusson opens this part with a detailed study of thenotion of ‘balance’, based on material from the British National Corpus andtwo Swedish sources. The author has analyzed metaphorical extensions into thedomains of financial, cognitive, mental, and emotional balance ingoal-directed actions and life goals, and claims that the variables of thephysical world and those of the phenomenological world are not in a one-to-onecorrespondence with each other. Joanna Adamiczka provides a corpus-based studyof some aspects of the metaphorical conceptualization of happiness and joy inSpanish, German, English and Polish. The study shows relations betweenconceptual metaphors, cultural factors and the meaning of selected emotionwords. Differences and similarities in understanding the emotions of joy andhappiness in different languages and cultures are discussed.

The next contribution by Iryna Dilay explores grammatical properties ofcognitive verbs in English, using data from the British National Corpus andthe Corpus of Contemporary American English, giving special attention to theconcept of semantic prosody. The last contribution of this part, by RafalAugustin, is a cognitive linguistic analysis of English neosemantic verbs (theauthor treats them as a subtype of neologisms), formed from nouns via zeroderivation, e.g. ‘homework’ → ‘to homework’, ‘butterfly’ → ‘to butterfly’. Thearticle addresses the issue of the mechanism behind the emergence of novellinguistic meanings.

Finally, Part V, “Text and Beyond” contains two contributions. In chapter 17,Angelina Rusinek provides an insight into the relationship between humans andclothes as it is revealed in dictionaries. The author presents the waydictionaries can not only show, but also explain changes in meaning. Evidencefor a conceptual contiguity between two conceptual macrocategories, CLOTHESand HUMAN BEING is presented. Laryssa Makaruk, in the last chapter of thebook, considers paralinguistic elements (pictograms and ideograms) which occurin modern media.

EVALUATION

Whether linguist, translator, interpreter or literary scholar, we all share aninterest in text. That is why the collection of articles under review appearsvery timely and relevant.

The title of Part I, “Text as a Problem,” was a bit puzzling. “Text as a Meansto Solve a Problem” might have reflected the content better. This part of thecollection brings up several interesting issues in text inquiries and opens upnew intriguing paths of research.

The study performed by the authors of chapter 1 has potential practicalbenefits not only in understanding the effects of creative writing, but alsoin advertising, politics, news and law, where texts certainly have arhetorical effect and it does make an enormous difference whetherreaders/listeners do or do not notice the information presented in the text.The broad range of empirical results of the use of the ‘text change detection’method are particularly interesting.

The second article, by Elzbieta Tabakowska, is notable not only for itsattempt to corroborate the claim that what pertains to a title viewed as textmight also pertain to text as such, but also for the “painfully obvious” (p.29) conclusion that a major part of the meaning of the text resides in itsgrammar. Tabakowska’s study, corpus-illustrated, is another piece of evidencethat comes in to support the symbolic character of grammar.

Very interesting ideas for future research are suggested in the conclusions tochapter 3: to prove or disprove the universality of Conceptual IntegrationTheory as a theory of humour or to verify whether humour can be reduced tometaphor or metonymy may, should it turn out to be true, create the potentialto consider humour an algorithmic operation.

Chapter 4 is of great value for translators as rendering word-play intoanother language is certainly one of the greatest challenges for translationprofessionals. Any translation of malapropisms or eggcorns requires that thetranslator has to satisfy many conceptual, contextual, phonological andmorphological conditions. This article is recommended for translators andinterpreters. The application of principles of analysability andcompositionality should prove especially useful.

Part II, which presents text as a means of doing things, is more like thestudy of various types of discourse, but as Coşeriu (2009:295) points out,discourse should be the object of study of what is nowadays called textlinguistics, so the contributions in this part are quite welcome in thecontext of meticulous text investigation. Chapter 9, which is a study of thenarrator’s identity and discourse in Samuel Beckett’s trilogy of novels, mighthave been better included in Part III, dedicated to literature. Part IIIwould have gained from that, as in its current representation it seems to bemore of a study of grammatical phenomena in various literary texts, which byno means diminishes its value and appeal to linguists interested in text as awhole and its constituents. The findings of the study by Iman Rasti will proveuseful for teaching of writing, as EFL students can benefit from an awarenessof appropriate use of questions in order to create an interaction with thereader and build convincing arguments.

Part IV contains corpus-based studies of various lexical, grammatical, andsemantic phenomena, which are related to textual research, as they partlyanswer the question in the title of the collection: What’s in a text? However,the last chapter of this part (chapter 16) is not actually a corpus basedstudy. Although the author says that his study is based on “a corpus of nearly100 very recent neosemantic verbs found on the Internet fora and in onlinearticles” (p. 231) it is not technically a corpus-based study (see thedefinition of ‘corpus’ athttp://www.anglistik.uni-freiburg.de/seminar/abteilungen/sprachwissenschaft/ls_mair/corpus-linguistics). This does not reduce the value of the research doneby the author of this chapter, it is just not a corpus-based study. A truecorpus-based analysis, like the one Iryna Dilay provides on English cognitiveverbs, can be a fruitful area of research that would tackle a wide range ofproblematic linguistic issues. Her analysis sheds light on variousgrammatical properties of cognitive verbs: their valency, aspectual types ofcognitive predicates, deviations from the norm in the use of progressiveaspect, metaphorical extensions and statistically significant lexicalcollocations.

In Part V of the collection the authors attempt to extend the attention oflinguists beyond traditional texts, but the last contribution to this sectiondoes not seem to be exactly a linguistic inquiry. Media discourse has indeedalways been a very interesting issue for a linguist, but this last chapterlooks more like an inventory of paralinguistic elements of printed mediadiscourse. It would be a good starting point to study the impact of suchelements upon the message rendered by linguistic means.

The primary aim of the authors of this collection was to invite their readersto carefully consider both the richness of text as such and the diversity oftext studies, performed by scholars representing various approaches tolanguage and languages, and this goal was accomplished. The publicationcontains a large amount of data and ideas, satisfying the desires of linguiststhat may have diverse aims, methodologies and theoretical approaches. Thecollection is especially welcome for doctoral students of text-relatedphenomena. The varied geographical background of the contributors gives areasonably good picture of the nature of text-based research in differentparts of Europe. Even though the editors say in the introduction that thedivision of the volume is “somewhat arbitrary“ (p. 2), it still appears quiteorderly.

The contributors may not have discovered totally novel phenomena or processesrelated to text, but they certainly have confirmed that the text is the keylinguistic tool of the expression of meaning and of communication. Articlesauthored by doctoral students and junior lecturers from Central and EasternEurope and more experienced researchers from the UK and Sweden coexist quitenicely in this collection and offer a good insight into various traditions oftext analysis.

REFERENCES

Coşeriu, E. 2009. Omul şi limbajul său. Studii de filosofie a limbajului,teorie a limbii şi lingvisticii generale, Colectia Logos, Iaşi: EdituraUniversităţii ''Alexandru Ioan Cuza''.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Elena Gheorghita is Assistant Professor at State University of Moldova,Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, English Philology Chair, and apracticing conference interpreter. Among her research interests are:translation studies, translation as process (namely in light of theory ofstrategic games), the fractal nature of language and communication,environmental and military terminology, linguistic research methodology.

Page Updated: 13-Feb-2013