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Studies in Communication on the Ancient Stage
This volume collects papers on pragmatic perspectives on ancient theatre. Scholars working on literature, linguistics, theatre will find interesting insights on verbal and non-verbal uses of language in ancient Greek and Roman Drama. Comedies and tragedies spanning from the 5th century B.C.E. to the 1st century C.E. are investigated in terms of im/politeness, theory of mind, interpersonal pragmatics, body language, to name some of the approaches which afford new interpretations of difficult textual passages or shed new light into nuances of characterisation, or possibilities of performance. Words, silence, gestures, do things, all the more so in dramatic dialogues on stage.
Structure and Socio-Pragmatics of a Nilotic Language of Uganda
Author: Maren Rüsch
A Conversational Analysis of Acholi elucidates various interaction strategies for the Nilotic language Acholi. Based on detailed examples, Maren Rüsch links the structural organization of Acholi conversations to cultural features such as politeness, language socialization and narrations. Despite common claims of universality regarding the structuring of human languages by previous authors, the study shows that some Acholi strategies differ from other languages. The verbal and non-verbal practices displayed give an in-depth insight into speakers’ cognitive participation during interaction.
On the basis of in-situ research in Uganda, including the collection of rich audio- and video-material, this volume provides an innovative approach to language documentation and description and constitutes a thorough conversation analytic study of an African language.
In Enthymemes and Topoi in Dialogue, Ellen Breitholtz presents a novel and precise account of reasoning from an interactional perspective. The account draws on the concepts of enthymemes and topoi, originating in Aristotelian rhetoric and dialectic, and integrates these in a formal dialogue semantic account using TTR, a type theory with records.
Argumentation analysis and formal approaches to reasoning often focus the logical validity of arguments on inferences made in discourse from a god’s-eye perspective. In contrast, Breitholtz’s account emphasises the individual perspectives of interlocutors and the function and acceptability of their reasoning in context. This provides an analysis of interactions where interlocutors have access to different topoi and therefore make different inferences.
A text usually provides more information than a random sequence of clauses: It combines sentence-level information to larger units which are glued together by coherence relations that may induce a hierarchical discourse structure. Since linguists have begun to investigate texts as more complex units of linguistic communication, it has been controversially discussed what the appropriate level of analysis of discourse structure ought to be and what the criteria to identify (minimal) discourse units are. Linguistic structure–and more precisely, the extraction and integration of syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic information–is shown to be at the center of text processing and discourse comprehension. However, its role in the establishment of basic building blocks for a coherent discourse is still a subject of debate. This collection addresses these issues using various methodological approaches. It presents current results in theoretical, diachronic, experimental as well as computational research on structuring information in discourse.
These lectures deal with the role of cognitive modelling in language-based meaning construction. To make meaning people use a small set of principles which they apply to different types of conceptual characterizations. This yields predictable meaning effects, which, when stably associated with specific grammatical patterns, result in constructions or fixed form-meaning parings. This means that constructional meaning can be described on the basis of the same principles that people use to make inferences. This way of looking at pragmatics and grammar through cognition allows us to relate a broad range of pragmatic and grammatical phenomena, among them argument-structure characterizations, implicational, illocutionary, and discourse structure, and such figures of speech as metaphor, metonymy, hyperbole, and irony.
A How-to Manual in Eight Essays
Author: Brien Hallett
Wishing to be helpful, Nurturing the Imperial Presidency by Brien Hallett illuminates the 5,000-year-old invariant practice of executive war-making. Why has the nation's war leader always decided and declared war?

Substituting a speech act approach for the traditional "separation of powers" approach, Hallett argues that he who controls the drafting of the declaration of war also controls the decision to go to war.

However, recent legislation calling for legislated "approvals" or “authorization to use force” before the executive can go to war, in no way hinder the executive's ancient prerogative power to decide and declare war. Innovative ways to deny the executive its ability to decide and declare war are proposed in this book.
Authors: Wei Ren and Saeko Fukushima

Abstract

This study investigates Chinese and Japanese requests in social media communication, focusing on the requests made between university students. The data consisted of 300 social media requests made by 30 Chinese university students and 304 social media requests made by 30 Japanese university students, respectively. The findings revealed that the Chinese and Japanese participants displayed more similarities than differences regarding the request strategy that they preferred to use among peers on social media. Both groups employed direct requests the most frequently, followed by conventionally indirect requests. Non-conventionally indirect requests were used the least frequently by both groups. The Japanese participants employed twice as many external modifiers as their Chinese counterparts. In contrast, the Chinese participants used considerably more lexical/phrasal internal modifiers than the Japanese participants. The findings are discussed in relation to factors such as social distance, living arrangements and new technologies.

In: Contrastive Pragmatics
Authors: Yuanyi Ma and Bo Wang

Abstract

This article presents a linguistic model, based on systemic functional linguistics (SFL), for describing and comparing poetry translations. The proposed model takes both the form and meaning of poetry into consideration and involves linguistic analyses at the levels of graphology, phonology, lexicogrammar and context. To illustrate the applicability of the model, we offer an analysis of Rabindranath Tagore’s Stray Birds in English and its three Chinese translations, point out the choices made by Tagore and the translators at different levels, and discuss the translation shifts in the target texts. On the basis of a contextual analysis, we relate the target texts with the Chinese norms of translation and comment on the quality of the translations. Our intention is to prove that linguistic theories offer a powerful tool for analysing poetry translation and offer new possibilities in translation studies from the perspective of SFL.

In: Contrastive Pragmatics

Abstract

Cross-cultural contrastive approaches motivate research that questions the universality premise of pragmatic theories by illustrating facts of local linguistic practices from diverse geographical areas. In the spirit of my earlier studies of Japanese (e.g. Matsumoto 1988, 1989), I suggest that contrastive pragmatics can lead the field of pragmatics to addressing variations in linguistic practice that go beyond the geographical diversity of cultures and encompass other types of “atypical” discourse, such as discourse of speakers with varied cognitive conditions including persons with Alzheimer’s. This paper argues for the pragmatics of understanding, i.e. the language users’ and the analysts’ efforts (i) to understand what speakers are trying to convey in verbal interaction and (ii) to understand local pragmatic principles of verbal exchange, and thereby to encourage more inclusive studies of pragmatics.

In: Contrastive Pragmatics

Abstract

This chapter explores V2 transgressions (Catasso, 2015), i.e. patterns in V2 languages in which the finite verb is linearly preceded by two constituents, focussing on examples with an adverbial clause as the initial constituent. In the literature, V2 transgressions have usually been seen as compatible with maintaining the V2 generalization on the assumption that the initial constituent which leads to the V3 order is ‘extra cyclic’ (Zwart, 2005)/‘main clause external’ (Broekhuis and Corver, 2016, pp. 1679–1733) and is merged at the discourse level, i.e. outside the narrow syntax. This contribution focusses on V2 transgressions which are unacceptable for speakers of standard Dutch but which have been reported as acceptable for speakers of the West Flemish dialect: while all varieties of Dutch allow for a regular V2 configuration in which a central adverbial clause is immediately followed by the finite verb, only West Flemish speakers accept a V2 transgression in which an initial central adverbial clause combines with a non-inverted V2 sentence. This non-inverted V3 pattern raises the question how what would be—by hypothesis—a clause-external constituent can interact with the clausal narrow syntax. The chapter will argue that the observed microvariation follows from a difference in the derivation of subject-initial V2 sentences.

In: Information Structuring in Discourse