Pragmatics 26:1 (March 2016)


Negotiating alignment in newspaper editorials: The role of concur-counter patterns




Newspaper editorials are shaped by the need to negotiate alignment and rapport with a diverse readership. This is achieved partly through the resources of engagement (Martin and White 2005), that is, through the argumentative moves of disclaim, proclaim, entertain and attribute, by which dialogic relations with the reader are carefully modulated. One aspect of argumentation in editorials that has sometimes been overlooked is that of the concede-counter structure, by which the writer signals concurrence with the reader on a particular issue, only to counter this with a new argument that may wholly or partially refute the first one. Typically, leader writers signal this manoeuvre textually from the outset, indicating that they are setting up an argument in order to demolish it by means of specific lexical choices or patterns. Thus items such as “of course” or “naturally” are used to build up the first argument, with which the reader is understood to concur. This is generally followed by a turning point marked by “but”, “yet” or “though”, after which the counter-argument is presented. Corpus linguists have pointed out that the presence of this type of lexical patterning makes it possible to research argumentation in large volumes of text using corpus tools. This study contains an analysis of concede-counter patterns in a corpus consisting of all the editorials published in the Guardian newspaper in 2011. The distinctive patterns that emerge are described, with particular attention paid to patterns of alignment and disalignment that emerge, as well as the related use of concurrence in asides to the reader. The role of such patterns in structuring discourse is analysed, with a particular focus on their ideological dimension as a means of subtly aligning readers with a particular set of opinions.


Keywords : Editorials; Appraisal analysis; Discourse analysis; Concede-counter patterns; Adverbials.



Peruvian Spanish speakers’ cultural preferences in expressing gratitude




Using Spencer-Oatey’s (2005) rapport-management model to analyze data collected in open role-play interactions in Lima, Perú, this paper expands research on the preferred communicative patterns of Peruvian Spanish speakers when expressing gratitude in a situation exhibiting high social distance (+SD) and  no power (-P) difference between interlocutors,  and where the benefit received from the interlocutor is considerable.  It is argued that although the development of interpersonal communication in social interactions reflects the relationship of each speaker with his/her interlocutor and his/her “own values and personal standards” (Furukawa  2000), it also reflects their cultural preferences to manage interpersonal relationships  (Spencer-Oatey 2005).

                Results show that participants exhibited what apparently is prescribed behavior in this socio-cultural context in the realization of their interactional goals: The creation and enhancement of the relationship using communicative strategies respecting the association and equity principles and enhancing the interlocutor’s identity face. Despite the fact that disrespect to the interlocutor and violations to her autonomy were voiced, it is asserted here, that given this specific context, this might be expected and permitted behavior.


Key words : Gratitude; Peruvian; Spanish; Face; Interpersonal relationships.



Represented speech: Private lives in public talk




This paper draws together discussions around public and private, represented talk, and conviviality by showing how an interviewee uses linguistic features to frame instances of talk as either “represented private talk” or “represented public talk”. My empirical focus is an interview that was recorded as part of fieldwork on leadership practices in the Indonesian bureaucracy. In this interview with a department head it seems that he adds authenticity to accounts of his leadership practices by performing them through represented talk. His use of Javanese in instances of represented talk also helps index intimate social relations between himself and his staff, while in some instances the combination of reference to place and participants also helps to nest ideas of private within represented public talk.


Keywords : Represented speech; Public; Private; Conviviality; Recursivity.



Reconsidering the development of the discourse completion test in interlanguage pragmatics




A survey of the field of Interlanguage Pragmatics (ILP) shows that the Discourse Completion Test (DCT), also referred to as a ‘discourse completion task’ or a ‘production questionnaire’, has been the most frequently used instrument to evaluate second/foreign language learners’ ability to perform speech acts in a target language, despite the harsh criticism leveled against its low construct validity and its failure to represent the features of authentic discourse. Interestingly, focusing on the statement of objectives of a number of ILP studies using DCTs, one can notice that such studies rarely refer to the DCT as a language test.  In addition, an overview of the DCT design process as described in several ILP studies shows that ever since its adaptation for the study of pragmatic ability (Blum-Kulka, 1982), there has been a tendency to use or adapt one of the existing DCT versions used in previous studies based on the argument of comparability of results. While a number of ILP researchers tried to improve the design of the DCT by the inclusion of rejoinders or by enhancing the prompt material (e.g. Billmyer and Varghese, 2000), few attempts have been made to reconsider the DCT development process. McNamara and Roever (2006: 253) urge for the need for “more research on testing of sociopragmatic knowledge and design of discourse completion tests for testing purposes.”

 The present paper starts with an overview of the literature about DCTs with special reference to the cognitive validity of the instrument and to previous studies dealing with DCT structure and content. Then, with reference to research in the fields of language testing and psychometrics, it shows that, whether used for research or instructional purposes, the DCT shares several qualities with language tests. As such, it is argued that the DCT should be treated as a language test and not as a questionnaire and should, thus, undergo a rigorous developmental process. Based on recent models of language test construction, the paper concludes with an overview of the stages of DCT development.


Keywords: Discourse Completion Test; Interlanguage Pragmatics; Test development;  Cognitive validity; Construct validity.


Glaucia Muniz Proença LARA

Pragmatics and discourse analysis: A dialogue on the concept of aphorization in media texts




In this article, which is part of a larger postdoctoral research, we examine, in the light of the dialogue between Pragmatics and French Discourse Analysis, the notion of aphorization, as proposed by Dominique Maingueneau (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012). We have tried to observe its use in Brazilian and French magazines, as a resource to manipulate the readers, especially through the changes that this kind of utterance undergoes in the process of highlighting.


Keywords : Aphorization; Highlighting; Printed media; Manipulation.


Chihsia TANG

Managing criticisms in US-based and Taiwan-based reality talent contests: A cross-linguistic comparison




This research studied how English and Chinese speakers encode their criticisms in the media discourse, aiming to explore the correlation between the speakers’ applications of pragmalinguistic strategies and their sociocultural orientations. Criticisms analyzed in the present study were collected from evaluative communications elicited from the US-based talent competition Project Runway and the Taiwan-based talent competition Super Designer. The current analysis of the face attack act referred to Brown and Levinson’s politeness framework and face notion . The results showed different frequencies of criticizing strategies and redressive devices in the English and Chinese sub-corpora. In addition, the findings also manifested some cross-language variations in pragmalinguistic representation of the same criticizing strategy. The discrepancies were discussed from the perspective of context orientation of the American and Taiwanese societies, evidencing the strong linkage between the speakers’ communication patterns and the cultural norms of their social networks.


Keywords : Media discourse; Criticism; English-Chinese comparison; Cultural context. 


Mingjian XIANG and Esther PASCUAL

Debate with Zhuangzi: Expository questions as fictive interaction blends in an old Chinese text




This study deals with the use of expository questions as discourse strategy in Zhuangzi (4th c. B.C.), a foundational text of Daoism. We treat this particular type of non-information-seeking questions (e.g. “Why? Because…”) as a manifestation of conversational monologues, which are themselves fictive kinds of interactions between the original writer and subsequent reader(s) (Pascual 2002, 2014). We further analyze expository questions as constructions of intersubjectivity (cf. Verhagen 2005, 2008), involving a viewpoint blend (Dancygier and Sweetser 2012), integrating the perspectives of the writer, the assumed readers and the discourse characters. We hope to show that–counter to what is commonly assumed in discourse studies–conversationalization is not restricted to modern institutional discourse (Fairclough 1994) or spoken informal speech (Streeck 2002).


Keywords: Conversational monologue; Expository questions; Intersubjectivity; Viewpoint blending; Fictive interaction; Zhuangzi.