Pragmatics 25:2 (June 2015)

Mohammed Nahar AL-ALI and Fahad M. ALLIHEIBI

Struggling to retain the functions of passive when translating English thesis abstracts




The thesis abstract, as a genre has a set of communicative functions mutually-understood by established members of the academic community. A vast majority of translation studies of source language (SL) and target language (TL) equivalence seems to have overlooked the inherent relationship between form and function when translating. The purpose of this study was to find out whether the Arab students would translate the English passive structures into their corresponding Arabic passive in order to maintain the pragma-generic functions associated with these constructions or would employ other translation replacements when translating English passives into Arabic. A further purpose was to find out what grammatical factors constrain the choice of these translation options. To fulfill these purposes, we investigated the voice choice in 90 MA thesis abstracts and their 90 Arabic translated versions written in English by the same MA students, drawn from the field of Linguistics. The data analysis revealed that when the Arab student-translators come across the English passive sentence, they resort to either of the following options: Transposing English passives into verbal nouns (masdar), or into pseudo-active verbs or active sentence structures, or into vowel melody passives, or omitting these passive structures.


Keywords : Passive voice; Pragmatic functions; Genre; Translation; Arabic ; English.



Whose side are we on? Viewers’ reactions to the use of irony in news interviews




This research seeks to identify and analyze the reaction to irony in Israeli political news interviews, in view of the specific nature of this genre, which has been known to allow a certain level of adversarialness (Liebes et al. 2008; Blum-Kulka 1983; Weizman 2008; Clayman &Heritage 2002a and 2002b). Our intention was to examine whether the audience regards the use of irony as over-aggressive, and whether they believe interviewees regard it as such, in order to shed light on the potential consequences the use of indirect discourse patterns has for the interviewer.

Based on Goffman's (1981) notion of footing, and on the concept of positioning as defined by Weizman (2008: 16), we focused on the audience's capacity to grasp the positioning and repositioning in the interaction as a possible influential factor in their reaction to the employment of irony. The research is based on two conceptual paradigms: Media studies and pragmatic studies of irony.

The findings indicate that Israeli audiences tend to regard interviewers' employment of irony in political interviews as slightly hostile, and as such it is viewed as a possible threat to interviewees' face (Goffman 1967), but also as a legitimate and comprehensible tool, especially when the irony is accompanied by humor or mitigating non-verbal signs. Hence, the risk for the interviewer is not as great as we assumed. Accordingly, viewers also tended to judge interviewees' conception of the employment of irony as only slightly adversarial, perhaps because they have assumed the interviewees' attitude towards the interaction, identified with them and chosen their side.


Keywords : Media; Political news interviews; Irony; Hostility.



Constructing Japanese men’s multidimensional identities: A case study of mixed-gender talk




Most previous studies of language and gender have focused on English as well as women’s language. The present study focuses on context dependency and the multiple functions of Japanese men’s language, or “masculine Japanese.” It reports a case study that qualitatively analyzes four conversations between a Japanese male and a female speaker collected in a naturalistic setting. The findings suggest the specific nature of the mixed-gender pair is important in examining these aspects. In mixed pairs where the male speaker is in a superior position to the female speaker, his use of masculine Japanese may be limited in “direct talk” or when he is directly addressing his female interlocutor because of their relatively hierarchical interpersonal relationship. On the other hand, his use of masculine language may be more frequent in direct quotations used to reveal his inner thoughts or simulate male speakers’ speech from prior contexts during his storytelling. In each context, masculine Japanese seems to have different functions. In direct talk, it provides linguistic resources for constructing traditional masculinities, even if they are not necessarily used, for example, when his relative status is a more salient feature than his gender. By contrast, in direct quotation, masculine language may be used as an involvement strategy or to consolidate solidarity, thus constructing different dimensions of interpersonal relationships in the mixed pair, though it may also be used as an entertainment strategy. The paper also discusses the need for a more holistic approach by including interactional features in research on gender and Japanese language.


Keywords : Masculine language; Japanese men; Masculinity; Gender; Identity; Mixed talk; Amount of talk; Storytelling; Direct quotation; Direct talk.



Ideologies of language at Hippo Family Club




Ethnographic study of Hippo Family Club, a foreign language learning club in Japan with chapters elsewhere, reveals a critique of foreign language teaching in Japanese schools and in the commercial English conversation industry. Club members contrast their own learning methods, which they view as “natural language acquisition”, with the formal study of grammar, which they see as uninteresting and ineffective. Rather than evaluating either the Hippo approach to learning or the teaching methods they criticize, however, this paper considers the ways of thinking about language that club members come to share. Members view the club as a transnational organization that transcends the boundaries of the nation-state. Language learning connects the club members to a cosmopolitan world beyond the club, even before they interact with speakers of the languages they are learning. The analysis of club members’ ideologies of language and language learning illuminates not only the pragmatics of language use, but practices and outcomes of socialization and shared social structures.


Keywords: Language ideologies; Second language acquisition; Japan; Education.



The pausative pattern of speakers with and without high-functioning autism spectrum disorder from long silences




This study aims to accomplish the functional and positional analysis of long silences – single, double or triple – in the oral productions of 20 speakers with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder and 20 typically-developing speakers. Thus, a pausative pattern, which combines different quantitative measures, is proposed for speakers with this disorder. Different comparisons showed homogeneity in the relative average between the word quantity and the number of long pauses in oral interactions of both groups. Finally, the excess of long internal shared pauses that are produced by speakers with high-functioning autism due to comprehension problems or lack of attention during dialogue is significant.


Keywords: Dialogue; High-functioning autism spectrum disorder; Oral interaction; Pausative pattern; Prosody; Silence.



Advice in Japanese radio phone-in counselling




Unlike the short and specific advice of service-encounters, advice in counselling settings is longer and more complex. In these interactions, it is known that advice is initially resisted in all languages. Scholars have tried to explain this phenomenon in terms of ‘face loss’ (Brown and Levinson 1987; Goldsmith 1992, 1994; Hinkel 1994; Murakami 1994); premature delivery (Heritage and Sefi 1992); the inappropriateness of the advisors (Jefferson and Lee 1992); or discrepancies in the interpretation of a problem (Murakami 1994).

                One of the difficulties in counselling or therapeutic settings is that the giving of advice in these interactions is a ‘process’ that is long and complex. In order to understand advice resistance, it is essential, first and foremost, to identify the characteristics of advice and how it is delivered. The present analysis of Japanese radio phone-in programs focuses on advice in order to identify its formal characteristics and also to try to understand the factors that determine its acceptance or resistance.


Keywords : Advice; Radio phone-in; Counselling; Japanese.



“The doctor said I suffer from vitamin € deficiency”: Investigating the multiple social functions of Greek crisis jokes



Research on political jokes has more often than not concentrated on their content, which is related to, and interpreted in view of, the sociopolitical events and contexts that have given rise to the jokes investigated each time. The present study intends to suggest that there are other aspects of political joke-telling that could be taken into consideration when exploring its social functions and goals: First, the subgenres employed by speakers to convey their humorous perspectives on political issues; and, second, speakers’ spontaneous comments on the jokes under scrutiny. The variety of subgenres could be related to the diverse ways joke-tellers perceive and encode their everyday problems and political views. Speakers’ spontaneous comments on the content and effects of jokes could reveal why they consider such texts tellable and recyclable, as well as how they evaluate them. The political jokes analyzed here come from a large corpus of humorous material about the current Greek debt crisis and its sociopolitical effects on the Greek society. The analysis reveals the multifunctionality of such jokes: They convey a critical perspective on the current sociopolitical conditions in Greece, strengthen the solidarity bonds among Greek speakers, entertain them, and bolster their morale.


Keywords: Political jokes; Humorous (sub)genres; Greek financial crisis; Content analysis; Social functions of jokes; Comments on humor.