In this chapter I look at three facets of the discourse of public apologies, namely their modes of realization, interpretation and mediation. First, I show how face considerations in the public arena compel politicians to realize creative forms of apologies in order to minimize their responsibility for misdeeds. Second, I point to patterns of interpretation of public apologies by politicians and audiences. Whereas the public seeks indicators of sincerity in apologetic statements, politicians tend to lay their judgment on various interests - political, economic, and symbolic - that do not necessarily coincide with the linguistic performance of the apology. Third, I demonstrate the active involvement of journalists in constructing social dramas of apology. In conclusion, I argue that, paradoxically, the public context in which apologies are made, renders them liable to be suspected of insincerity while at the same time, enables them to achieve their ends.
Since the 1990s we witness a rise in public apologies. Are we living in the ‘Age of Apology’?
Interesting research questions can be raised about the opportunity, the form, the meaning, the effectiveness and the ethical implications of public apologies.
Are they not merely a clever and easy device to escape real and tangible responsibility for mistakes or wrong done? Are they not at risk to become well-rehearsed rituals that claim to express regret but, in fact, avoid doing so?
In a joint interdisciplinary effort, the contributors to this book, combining findings from their specific fields of research (legal, religious, political, linguistic, marketing and communication studies), attempt to articulate this tension between ritual and sincere regret, between the discourse and the content of apologies, between excuses that pretend and regret that seeks reconciliation.
This book addresses the need for a systematic approach to the study of identities. It explores the potential of drawing conclusions about linguistic identities through analysis of source and target versions of texts. It focuses on English-Greek translation contexts and brings in evidence from other language pairs. It investigates systematic variation in three genres (press, EU and literary/theatre translation contexts) to trace signs of intercultural difference inscribed in text that may be part of the source or target identity. It, thus highlights the potential of translation to enlighten research on identity and contributes insights into interdisciplinary projects on intercultural difference. This book has a consciousness-raising intention, in that it seeks to enhance linguistic identity awareness and shed light on its development.
Questionnaires are widely used in the social sciences and very often survey data form the basis for governmental and commercial planning or evaluation. Yet the quality of survey data is not attested to, since a large variety of factors in the language-use situation prove to influence the answers unintentionally. The forbid/allow asymmetry is a well-known example of this: when respondents are asked whether something should be forbidden, about 50% may answer ‘yes, forbid’ – whereas an equivalent question phrased with the verb ‘to allow’ could well cause up to 75% of the respondents to answer ‘no, it should not be allowed’. Which question wording is preferable to measure respondents’ true attitudes? Only when we know why the answers differ, can we decide on that.
This book is the first to apply a systematic cognitive approach to describe the causes of the forbid/allow asymmetry. The question-answering process is unravelled by a variety of experiments and meta-analytic techniques. Analyses reveal that the difference in question wording does not prompt respondents to retrieve different attitudes. Instead, the asymmetry reflects that the question wording causes the response options to be used differently. Because of the qualifying dimensions in the question text, the meanings of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ change, as well as the cognitive distance between them.
This study sheds a different light on processes of question-answering and text interpretation. Furthermore, practical advice on questionnaire design and on the interpretation of survey data is given on the basis of these new insights.