LINGUIST List 31.889

Tue Mar 03 2020

Review: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics: Mackenzie, Alba-Juez (2019)

Editor for this issue: Jeremy Coburn <jecoburnlinguistlist.org>



Date: 09-Nov-2019
From: Lucia Busso <lucia.busso90gmail.com>
Subject: Emotion in Discourse
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Book announced at https://linguistlist.org/issues/30/30-1977.html

EDITOR: J. Lachlan Mackenzie
EDITOR: Laura Alba-Juez
TITLE: Emotion in Discourse
SERIES TITLE: Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 302
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2019

REVIEWER: Lucia Busso, Aston University

SUMMARY

The collection of papers “Emotion in Discourse” is edited by J. Lachlan Mackenzie and Laura Alba-Juez and presents with 14 chapters subdivided into 4 sections. Many of the papers in the volume present research carried out within the EMO-FUNDETT Excellence Project (EMOtion ‘at work’:the discursive emotive/evaluative FUNction in DiffErent Texts and work conTexts – FFI2013 – 47792-C2-1-P, PI Laura Alba-Juez, hhttp://emofundett.weebly.com). Some authors are not members of the EMO-FUNDETT project, but their works were selected from the talks presented at the International Conference on Language and Emotion (UNED, Madrid, November 2016) which was organized by the EMO-FUNDETT group.

Emotion in Discourse reflects the growing scientific interest in human emotion mechanisms and in particular their intricate relationship with human language. The volume is interdisciplinary in nature, like emotion itself, and uses input from psychology, neurology, and communication studies besides linguistics. Across 4 thematic sections, the editors take a cohesive approach to the various workings of the expression of emotion in discourse.

As mentioned, the volume is divided into 4 Sections, preceded by an Introduction. The first chapter Emotion processes in discourse functions as Introduction to the volume and is authored by the two editors. It contextualizes the book, surveying the study of emotion in discourse and presenting the main research questions behind the EMO-FUNDETT project and the volume. Emotion is also defined in a scientific and precise manner, and the ‘emotional turn’ in research is addressed and explained. The chapter ends with a brief outline of the sections and chapters of the book, summarizing them and showing how they contribute to the challenge of identifying the role of emotion in discourse.

The first Section of the volume is called “Emotion, syntax and the lexicon: taboo words, interjections, axiology, phraseology”. The 6 chapters comprising it all examine how emotion is intertwined with linguistic structures, especially those of syntax and the lexicon, and forms an integral part of the use of language in interaction and in thought.

The first paper is ‘The multifunctionality of swear/taboo words in television series’, by Monika Bednarek (University of Sydney). The author adopts the broad perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL, Halliday, 1961) to identify a range of swearwords and taboo expressions and their use in contemporary US television series. The author uses a corpus-based approach, employing a new specialized corpus of dialogue transcribed from 66 contemporary American TV series: the Sydney Corpus of Television Dialogue (SydTV). Bednarek shows that the presence of swear and taboo words is neither gratuitous nor merely aimed at characterization, but rather fulfills various functions within the televisual narrative, notably that of controlling the viewers’ emotions.

The following chapter, ‘The syntax of an emotional expletive in English’, by J. Lachlan Mackenzie (VU Amsterdam), argues from the viewpoint of Functional Discourse Grammar (FDG, Dik, 1991; Hengeveld & Lachlan, 2008) that “emotion is visible above all as an overlay on structures that communicate interpersonal and representational meanings”. The chapter focuses on the grammatical properties of ‘fuck’ and its derivatives, in their expletive use (i.e. in their function of expressing emotional emphasis). The expletive items are identified as being grammatical rather than lexical and as being optional pragmatic markers.

Chapter 4, ‘Interjections and emotions: The case of gosh’, by Angela Downing and Elena Martínez Caro (Complutense University of Madrid), investigates the interjection gosh as an expletive secondary interjection, i.e., an interjection that appears as a complete and self-contained utterance. The authors explore two corpora of British and American English (BNC, British National Corpus, [BNC, 2017]; COCA, Corpus of Contemporary American English, [Davies, 2008]). They examine gosh in terms of both formal and functional characters (position and syntactic peripheral behavior, discourse role in conversation), and possible differences between British and American English use. From this analysis, it emerges that gosh is a productive and lively interjection in present-day English. It functions as an inoffensive pragmatic marker in both major varieties of the language. The chapter also considers the interjection’s etymology and historical origin, identifying elements of conventionalization and lexicalization.

The section continues with a fifth chapter by Ruth Breeze and Manuel Casado-Velarde (University of Navarra), ‘Expressing emotions without emotional lexis: A crosslinguistic approach to the phraseology of the emotions in Spanish’. In this paper, the authors focus on the phraseology used to express emotions in Spanish, taking English as a point of comparison. In particular, the analysis considers how emotions are expressed by lexical items and phrases that are not inherently part of the emotional lexis. They concentrate on 3 main topics: phrases that indicate presence and absence of emotions, control and failure to control powerful emotions, and linguistic affordances for expressing uncomfortable but vague emotions. Several differences between the two languages are found and thoroughly explained.

The concluding chapter of this first section is entitled ‘The value of left and right’, by Ad Foolen (Radboud University). It focuses on the emotive value (‘axiology’) of left and right across different languages. What emerges is an asymmetry in the emotional values for the two concepts. Specifically, the word ‘left’ carries a negative value, whereas ‘right’ carries positive associations. This asymmetry in emotional values in turn “reflects a complex interaction between neural architecture and social responses to lateralization, as manifested for example in entrenched beliefs and feelings about handedness”. The main claim of the author is that research on the axiological value of left and right concepts may contribute to potentially important insights into laterality in general.

Section 2 is entitled “Pragmatics and emotion: cyberemotion, the emotion of humor, pragmatic (epistemic) markers of emotion”. The general theme of the section is the impact of emotions in various real-life situations, such as phatic communication on the Internet, the maintenance of humor and conviviality in conversation, and the expression of displeasure and anger at injustices. The first contribution to this section is ‘A cognitive pragmatics of the phatic Internet’ by Francisco Yus (University of Valencia). As the author explains, in the ‘phatic Internet’ “(…) the propositional content transferred to other users is increasingly irrelevant but the effects that this content generates (in terms of emotions and feelings of connection, sociability, group membership, friends’ acknowledgment and mutual awareness, etc.) are utterly relevant”. The chapter argues that the emotions evoked by phatic interactions and phatic implicatures should be researched as the main effects of such type of communication (following Relevance Theory, RT, Sperber & Wilson, 1986). For these types of Internet-mediated communication effects the author proposes the term phatic effects.

The second chapter, ‘Humor and mirth: Emotions, embodied cognition, and sustained humor’ by Salvatore Attardo (Texas A&M University-Commerce), focuses on ‘sustained humor’ (Attardo, 2017), i.e. humorous exchanges that last more than three turns, which the author characterizes as a ‘virtuous circle’. The paper takes an Embodied Cognition perspective (Wilson & Foglia, 2017) and examines the bodily cues of humorous intention in speaker and hearer (e.g., smiling synchrony), and the feedback loop of reciprocity triggered by mirror neurons.

The paper concluding the second section of the book is ‘My anger was justified surely? Epistemic markers across British English and German emotion events’, authored by Nina Fronhofer (University of Augsburg). The paper focuses on epistemic markers of ANGER events (i.e. anger, irritation, discontent) from a cross-linguistic perspective. The research develops the Emotion Event Model and in particular explores the role of such epistemic markers as sub-units of analysis in Emotion Events. The analysis is carried out on a corpus of written narratives elicited from British and German university students. Results suggested that in general German writers display more ANGER events than British ones, and that male writers use more epistemic markers than females. Moreover, in the British Emotion Events, more markers of ‘low’ certainty were used in contrast to more markers of ‘high’ certainty in the German ones. The findings underline the importance of epistemic markers for modeling of emotional discourse.

The third section of the volume is focused on interdisciplinary relations of linguistics, pragmatics and psychology. It explores how emotion shows up in different discourse types. In particular, it focuses on how emotional intelligence correlates with pragmatic competence, how linguistic ability correlates with capacity to recognize emotions, and how insights from psychology engender opportunities for refining and reforming categories of emotion proposed by linguists.

The first paper of the section is ‘Emotion and language “at work”: The relationship between Trait Emotional Intelligence and communicative competence as manifested at the workplace’, by linguist Laura Alba-Juez and psychologist Juan-Carlos Pérez-González (UNED, Madrid). The chapter explores the relationship between Emotional Intelligence (EI) and the verbal expression of emotion, especially focusing on emotional communication at the workplace. The main hypothesis is that EI and (emotion) communication skills are interrelated, which means that people who show communicative dexterity in dealing with emotionally challenging situations are also those who show the highest levels of EI, and vice versa. Methodologically, the research is conducted by means of a survey to measure both EI and communicative pragmatic competence regarding responses to emotionally challenging situations. The questionnaire was submitted to the staff of five engineering companies. Results show a quadratic (inverted-U) relationship between the two variables considered. That is, a non-linear relation between communicative skills and EI emerges.

The following chapter, ‘The effects of linguistic proficiency, trait emotional intelligence and cultural background on emotion recognition by British and American English L1 users’ is authored by the University of London researchers Jean-Marc Dewaele (Birkbeck), Pernelle Lorette (Birkbeck) and Konstantinos V. Petrides (UCL). The paper focuses individual differences in emotion recognition abilities (ERA). To investigate whether linguistic, cultural and psychological profiles of individuals affect their ability to recognize emotions, 301 native speakers of English were tested (150 Britsh and 151 American English speakers). Participants watched six video clips performed by a British L1 English-speaking actress. Results show that participants with high linguistic proficiency and high EI were better at emotion recognition, whereas the ones with lower levels of linguistic proficiency relied more heavily on their EI to recognize the emotions. Cultural background did not yield a significant effect.

The last chapter of Section 3 is ‘Rethinking Martin and White’s AFFECT taxonomy: A psychologically-inspired approach to the linguistic expression of emotion’, by Miguel-Ángel Benítez-Castro (University of Zaragoza) and Encarnación Hidalgo-Tenorio (University of Granada). The paper argues that although Martin & White’s (2005) Appraisal Theory is a powerful instrument to capture the subtleties of emotion in discourse, it needs a sharper and more accurate definition of categories. This sharper definition – the authors suggest – may come from embracing the notion “appraisal” in the sense used in psychology and neuroscience in the description of emotional responses. They test their hypothesis by means of corpus data, drawing inspiration mainly from appraisal theories, construction theories and neuroscience. The paper also emphasizes the notion of “goal” as the foundation of all emotion types.

The fourth and last section of the volume is concerned with the study of emotion in different discourse types, and its effect on society. The first paper by Isabel Alonso Belmonte (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) is ‘Victims, heroes and villains in newsbites: A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Spanish eviction crisis in El País’. The chapter investigates the role that emotional meaning plays in the press representation of the recent Spanish housing crisis. It adopts a systemic-functional perspective and uses insights from Appraisal Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis as well. The author examines both quantitatively and qualitatively 139 newsbites published in the famous Spanish newspaper El País. All the news collected were tagged with “desahucios” (“forced evictions”). The main findings of the study are essentially two: firstly, the research suggests that El País triggers emotional responses from their audience by representing the various social actors of the eviction crisis as either suffering victims, sympathetic heroes or dehumanized financial and political villains. Secondly, the author shows the strategic use of the emotional meaning encoded in verbal processes: journalists consciously use their subjective interpretation to generate feelings of empathy and to send a socio-political message. Quantitative data on the distribution of the analyzed social roles is also provided. The chapter also observes similarities with Italian journalists, who have been found to make frequent use of the emotive impact of events as well.

The final chapter of the book, ‘Promoemotional science? Emotion and intersemiosis in graphical abstracts’, is authored by Carmen Sancho Guinda (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid). The chapter explores how the visual mode favors the expression of emotional commitment to research in the new academic genre ofgraphical abstracts. The author analyzes both verbal emotional language and visual emotional cues of a sample of abstracts taken from high-impact journals. Results suggest that the visual abstract involves a hybridization of the traditional genre. Furthermore, the presence of emotion may relate to ‘intersemiosis’, i.e. the adoption of roles other than those of scientist, such as journalist, advertiser, and entertainer which causes a more fluid writing style. Even though – the author argues – also elements of stylization and trivialization can be found, graphical abstracts represent a step towards the democratization of science.

EVALUATION

The present volume constitutes a valuable contribution for a number of interrelated disciplines, such as linguistics, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and communication studies. In fact, its merit is to provide the reader with a wide overview of various scientific perspectives on the study of emotions, contributing to the so-called ‘emotional turn’ not only in linguistics, but also in other fields of scientific research.

Emotion in Discourse presents both the state of the art and the latest research regarding the intricate relations of emotion expression and human language, (predominantly) adopting an interdisciplinary approach, to tackle different aspects of the complex phenomenon of human emotion. The book examines how emotion relates to different aspects of human language, to linguistic appraisal and emotional intelligence or humor, as well as investigating its surfacing in different genres. The chapters in the book are grouped together in a coherent and clear subdivision, which guides the reader across different thematic sections that highlights important facets of emotion in actual discourse systems of different sociocultural environments. Overall, the papers in this volume all offer a significant contribution to the study of emotion in linguistics, transcending previous linguistic work and providing an updated characterization of how emotion functions in human discourse.

The book opens with an extremely clear and informative introduction, which presents the editors own view on emotion and language, and summarizes in an efficient way the purposes and the content of the book.

Section 1 is well structured, and the papers are all of extremely good quality. The first two chapters, respectively by ‘Monika Bednarek (University of Sydney) and J. Lachlan Mackenzie (VU Amsterdam), are both extremely well-argued contributions. However, they both share the downside of not presenting any data. In particular, despite the fact that Bednarek explicitly makes use of a corpus-based approach, no quantitative information on the corpus is provided (e.g. percentages, measures of statistical association, keyness score, etc.)., which would have not only greatly benefitted the analysis, but also helped the reader understand the making of the corpus used. The following paper’s argumentation as well is somewhat penalized by the lack of quantitative and ‘real’ data. Chapter 4 by Angela Downing and Elena Martínez Caro (Complutense University of Madrid) convincingly presents data and results, arguing their hypotheses with data from the two corpora used. The fifth chapter by Ruth Breeze and Manuel Casado-Velarde (University of Navarra) is excellent in all regards, and presents with a perfect argumentation and some thought-provoking suggestions which are of interest not only for linguists, but for teachers, philosophers and psychologists alike. The following contribution ‘The value of left and right’, by Ad Foolen (Radboud University) presents an extremely ‘rich’ characterization of the emotional value of axiology, with inputs from socio-cultural and psychological data and facts that poignantly contribute to the argumentation.

The second section’s first contribution is ‘A cognitive pragmatics of the phatic Internet’ by Francisco Yus (University of Valencia). The chapter is extremely innovative, as it tackles the relatively new phenomena of internet-mediated communication and social media, which still lack thorough linguistic and philosophical research. It is clearly a preliminary study, and much additional research (both qualitative and quantitative) remains to be done, but the paper contributes to the growing linguistic debate in an interesting and rigorous way. The second chapter, ‘Humor and mirth: Emotions, embodied cognition, and sustained humor’ by Salvatore Attardo (Texas A&M University-Commerce), is theoretical in nature. It presents the author’s thesis in a rigorous and well-argued manner. Moreover, the claims made in this contribution are ready to be subjected to experimental work– especially in the field of neurolinguistics – which renders the contribution an extremely valuable ‘starting point’ for future research. The paper concluding this section is ‘My anger was justified surely? Epistemic markers across British English and German emotion events’, authored by Nina Fronhofer (University of Augsburg). The paper presents both state-of-the-art innovative statistical techniques to analyze the data and an accurate qualitative assessment of the significance of such findings, which render the analysis presented extremely thorough and convincing.

The third section focuses on interdisciplinary studies on emotion. It groups two experimental and innovative papers, with a more theoretically-oriented one. The first paper, by linguist Laura Alba-Juez and psychologist Juan-Carlos Pérez-González (UNED, Madrid), is well structured and very well argued, with an in-depth theoretical review of many concepts presented throughout the chapter. The research presented is preliminary but promising. The methodology and analysis is sound, although the experimental design (using only questionnaires) is – perhaps – a little too simple to explore such a complex and interrelated phenomenon. However, the extremely sound and complex analysis of the data gives an in-depth understanding of the data presented. The following chapter, ‘The effects of linguistic proficiency, trait emotional intelligence and cultural background on emotion recognition by British and American English L1 users’ is authored by Jean-Marc Dewaele (Birkbeck), Pernelle Lorette (Birkbeck) and Konstantinos V. Petrides (UCL). The paper is thought-provoking and extremely accurate. The statistical method used is three-way anova, whereas it is my opinion that a mixed model would have yielded more sound results, also in view of the non-normally distributed and slightly skewed data that the authors themselves report. The last chapter of Section 3 is ‘Rethinking Martin and White’s AFFECT taxonomy: A psychologically-inspired approach to the linguistic expression of emotion’, by Miguel-Ángel Benítez-Castro (University of Zaragoza) and Encarnación Hidalgo-Tenorio (University of Granada). The analysis is detailed and well-presented. It presents numerous (more than 60!) linguistic examples to support the author’s thesis, and proposes convincing fine-grained refinements to the system of AFFECT, to highlight the necessity of a more psychological perspective in SFL.

The fourth and last section of the volume comprises two papers focusing on emotional discourse in journalistic and scientific language. Both the chapters are examples of thorough qualitative studies, and provide fine-grained analyses of interesting phenomena related to emotion in language. The first paper by Isabel Alonso Belmonte (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) is ‘Victims, heroes and villains in newsbites: A Critical Discourse Analysis of the Spanish eviction crisis in El País’. The analysis is conducted rigorously and accurately, reporting numerous examples from the newspaper in question. The final chapter of the book, ‘Promoemotional science? Emotion and intersemiosis in graphical abstracts’, is authored by Carmen Sancho Guinda (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid). The article is innovative in respect both to the genre studied and to the methodology and results, even though the topic it appears to be related more to semiotics than to linguistics per se.

Overall, the volume constitutes an extremely interesting collection of innovative studies, which represent a significant contribution to the interdisciplinary effort to bring the attention of the scientific community on the relations among emotion, language and society.

REFERENCES

Attardo, S. (2017). Humor in language. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics.

Dik, S. (1991). Functional grammar. Linguistic theory and grammatical description, 75, 247-274.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1961). Categories of the theory of grammar. Word, 17(2), 241-292.

Hengenveld, K., & Lachlan Mackenzie, J. (2008). A typologically-based theory of language structure. Functional Discourse Grammar.

Martin, J. R., & White, P. R. R. (2005). The language of evaluation: Appraisal in English. London: Continuum Press.

Sperber, D., & Wilson, D. (1986). Relevance: Communication and cognition (Vol. 142). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wilson Robert, A., & Foglia, L. (2017). Embodied Cognition. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring.


ABOUT THE REVIEWER

I am a post-doc researcher at Aston University. I just finished (cum laude) my PhD at the University of Pisa. My research interests span from Usage Based models to pragmatics, corpus linguistics and psycholinguistics. My focus is on the syntax-semantics interface.



Page Updated: 03-Mar-2020