2006 – The Linguistics Journal https://www.linguistics-journal.com TESOL Linguistics Thu, 22 Jun 2017 07:43:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Foreword – Novermber 2006 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/2014/01/09/foreword-novermber-2006/ Thu, 09 Jan 2014 05:33:22 +0000 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/www2/2014/01/09/foreword-novermber-2006/ November 2006. Volume 1 Issue 3
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In the November edition of the Linguistics Journal we are pleased to present six articles from various areas of the world. Congratulations are extended to all the authors in this edition who have successfully negotiated the review procedure.

The first, by Camilla Vizconde from the Center for Educational Research and Development and the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, investigates student teacher attitudes towards English as the language of instruction in science and mathematics as classes. Through the qualitative analysis of interview data with teacher trainees in two teacher training institutions, Vizconde reveals that there are difficulties in following the government policy of bilingualism. Most respondents show preference for the “alternate use of both Filipino and English inside their classrooms” which runs contrary to government stipulation that English should be the only medium of instruction in such classes. Vizconde concludes that whilst student teachers recognize the importance of English, Filipino should be viewed as a valuable “support language.” This small-scale study has far-reaching implications for the current bilingual policy in science and mathematics programmes in the Philippines.

The second paper comes from Dr. Francesco Cavallaro at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His paper puts forward the proposal for a methodological triangulation in investigating the language dynamics of the Italian community in Australia. This highly reflective account of research into an ethnic minority illustrates the necessity to choose methods of enquiry which suit the context of the study. Cavallaro shows how the combination of diary keeping, participant observation, questionnaire and tape-recording can successfully help the researcher gain better insights into language dynamics in settings where different levels of formality exist.

The next paper is by Dr. Raphiq Ibrahim, a cognitive and neuropsychologist at Haifa University and Rambam Medical Center in Israel. His research investigates languages with cognate relationships, Arabic and Hebrew, and asks whether there are advantages of this knowledge for Arabic Hebrew bilinguals in second language acquisition. Ibrahim’s study is based upon lexical connections between translation equivalents and suggests that “cognate words that have phonological overlap can influence the recognition of translation equivalents.” The study makes use of the comparison between repetition priming effects (reaction times and accuracy measures) and translation equivalents in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Hebrew. It concludes that the “strength of the lexical associations between translation equivalents is influenced not only by the frequency of concomitant use but rather by their cognate status.”

Dr. Mina Rastegar from the University of Kerman in Iran looks at “causal modeling – path analysis”, a new statistical trend in applied linguistics. This fascinating paper critically analyses this method of enquiry and argues that it is “the best statistical option to use when the effects of a multitude of L2 learners’ variables on language achievement are investigated in one study” since the causal models can effectively explain the hypothesized variables. Rastegar puts forward the case for the replacement of traditional linear correlation with that of the new causal modeling – path analysis technique.

Dr. F. Sadighi and Mr. S. Zare from Shiraz University in Iran present a case study of Iranian EFL learners and ask whether background knowledge influences listening comprehension in TOEFL. In this paper, the researchers activated the pre-listening topic knowledge of an experimental group. In their statistical analysis of the ensuing data from the experimental and control groups, findings shows that background knowledge did actually improve listening scores. This study is a highly reflective account of a research process which can be effectively replicated in different settings.

The final article by Ms. Jing Liu, Dr. Tindall and Dr. Nisbet from Regent University in the U.S.A. looks at the use of English plural forms by Chinese learners. This study outlines some of the difficulties commonly experienced by Chinese students taking EFL courses, providing the reader with useful insights into their linguistic origins in the Chinese language. The authors provide a number of practical teaching recommendations to address this problem.

We hope you enjoy the diversity presented in this end of the year edition of The Linguistics Journal and look forward to your own contributions.

John Adamson, Ed.D.
Senior Associate Editor
The Linguistics Journal


Volume 1. Issue 3. November 2006

PDF E-book version pps. 1-146 View

Foreword by Dr. John Adamson.

1. Camilla Vizconde. Attitudes of Student Teachers towards the use of English as Language of Instruction for Science and Mathematics in the Philippines
2. Francesco Cavallaro. Language Dynamics of an Ethnic Minority Group: Some Methodological Concerns on Data Collection
3. Raphiq Ibrahim. Do Languages with Cognate Relationships have Advantages in Second Language Acquisition?
4. Mina Rastegar. Causal Modeling – Path Analysis: A New Trend in Research in Applied Linguistics
5. F. Sadighi and S. Zare. Is Listening Comprehension Influenced by the Background Knowledge of the Learners? A Case Study of Iranian EFL learners
6. Liu Jing, Evie Tindall and Deanna Nisbet. Chinese Learners and English Plural Forms

A Sociopragmatic Analysis of Griping: The Case of Iranian Students https://www.linguistics-journal.com/2014/01/09/a-sociopragmatic-analysis-of-griping-the-case-of-iranian-students/ Thu, 09 Jan 2014 04:58:03 +0000 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/www2/2014/01/09/a-sociopragmatic-analysis-of-griping-the-case-of-iranian-students/ January 2006. Volume 1
pp 59 – 76 (PDF version) for academic citation

A Sociopragmatic Analysis of Griping: The Case of Iranian Students

Hamid Allami
Yadz University, Iran

Article: PDF version MS Doc version

Unlike direct complaint, “griping” is a non-face-threatening speech act in which the party or object of complaint is not present. The present study is an attempt to investigate the responses provided for griping in terms of six major categories: 1) topic switch/blank reply, 2) question, 3) contradiction, 4) joking/teasing, 5) advice, 6) agreement/ commiseration. The data has been collected through a ‘Discourse Completion Task’ (DCT) to set up the necessary conditions for the speech act to occur. The findings reveal that in response to griping, Iranian students, most of the time, feel obliged to further conversation and maintain solidarity through the use of the supportive speech act of commiseration. However, they do not support Boxer’s finding that women participate more in troubles-talks than men, or that women mostly commiserate with griping while men contradict or give advice.

Key words: sociolinguistics, pragmatics, speech act theory, non-face-threatening act, griping

Unlike direct complaint which is a face-threatening act (Sauer, 2000; Murphy & Neu, 1996; Olshtain& Weinbach, 1987) through which a speaker makes complaints about someone or something that is present in the speech act event, griping can be described as a non-face-threatening speech act in which the responsible party or object of the complaint is not present during the interaction within which the speech act is performed (D’Amico-Reisner, 1985). Although both direct and indirect complaints have the potential of leading to lengthy interactions between speaker and addressee, it is usually in the indirect complaint or griping that one finds conversational material upon which shared beliefs and attitudes may be expressed (Tatsuki, 2000). As such, the indirect complaint becomes a solidarity-building device since it freely invokes the listener to engage in a series of ‘commiserative responses’ to demonstrate attention and concern, or to maintain intimacy and stable social relationships.

In Australian English, the speech act known as ‘whinging’ seems to be closely related to ‘griping’ and also ‘nagging’. The definition using the Natural Semantic Approach is as follows (Wierzbicka, 1991, p. 181-2):

(a) I say something bad is happening to me.
(b) I feel something bad because of this.
(c) I can’t do anything because of this.
(d) I want someone to know this.
(e) I want someone to do something because of this.
(f) I think no one wants to do anything because of this.
(g) I want to say this many times because of this.

Wierzbicka (1991) deliberately juxtaposes the definitions of ‘complain’ as mentioned earlier, and ‘whinge’ so as to highlight the range of meaning a word, here a verb, can have with respect to the culture in which it has become a part.

According to both Tannen (1990) and Michand & Warner (1997), such commiserative responses frequently serve as back-channels or evaluative responses in an extended structure of discourse exchanges and might invoke expressions like “Oh, that’s horrible!”, “Yeah, I know what you mean”, and “That’s too bad.”

The present study aims to ascertain whether responses to griping by Iranians are in accord with the findings of the current research on griping. This may serve as further evidence to contribute to the universality of the function of griping, or provide evidence to indicate its non-universality.

Review of Related Literature
There is already an extensive literature on the speech act of complaint (Kasper, 1981; Brown & Levinson, 1987; Wierzbicka, 1991; Olshtain & Weinbach, 1993; Laforest, 2002 to cite a few). Searle (1976), in his typology of speech acts, distinguishes between apology and complaint as expressive speech acts, where the former is made to threaten the addressee’s positive-face want (See Brown & Levinson, 1987). Complaint has also been classified as a particular speech act – in reaction to a ‘socially unacceptable act’- to imply severity or directness (Brown & Levinson, 1987). It has been further defined as a speech act to give the speaker a way to express ‘displeasure or annoyance’ as a reaction to a past or on-going action the consequences of which are perceived by the speaker as affecting him unfavorably (Olshtain and Weinbach, 1993).

While direct complaint, as defined by Brown and Levinson (1987), is a face-threatening act, it has been claimed that griping carries no face threat. Furthermore, unlike direct complaint, which is used to call for negotiation, griping is used as a means to invoke commiseration (Edmondson, 1981).

The earliest study on griping (as cited in Boxer, 1993a) was carried out by Katriel (1985) who examined the ritual samples of griping among Israelis. Jefferson & Lee (1981) and Jefferson (1984) studied ‘troubles-telling’ encounters from a conversation analysis point of view. These studies refer to the potential of establishing solidarity through griping.

Bayraktaroglu (1992) in a study on Turkish commiserative responses found griping a common speech act among friends and intimates. He defined it in the following manner:

When one of the speakers informs the other speaker of the existence of a personal problem, the subsequent talk revolves around this trouble for a number of exchanges, forming a unit in the conversation where trouble is the focal point…,[involving] the speaker who initiates it by making his or her trouble in public, the trouble-teller, and the speaker who is on the receiving end, the ‘trouble-recipient’ (p. 319)

Bayraktaroglu also distinguished griping from troubles-talking in that the latter is a type of oral narrative which is initiated by the former.

Boxer (1993a) refers to her previous research in 1991 that showed that griping does not always function as rapport-inspiring speech interactions. She found that approximately 25% of griping sequences serve to distance the interlocutors from one another while 75% of the samples of griping were found to be rapport-inspiring by a group of 10 native English-speaking raters. The study found that speakers of English often employed griping in sequential interaction in an attempt to establish solidarity. Moreover, in this type of negotiation, which brought the interlocutors closer to each other by opening up a more personal side to the relationship, it was found to be a predominantly female phenomenon in the native speaker study.

In a further study, Boxer (1993b) investigated griping in conversations between Japanese learners of English as an L2 and their L1 peers. She found that natives use griping as a positive strategy for establishing points of commonality. She refers to Yamada’s (1989) findings that depict Americans as having a positive orientation towards talk, where talk is seen as a way of better understanding of one another, and resolving problems and difficulties; whereas the Japanese have a negative orientation towards talk where talk is seen as a kind of problem-maker itself. Therefore, the Japanese verbal and nonverbal back channeling behavior seems to be an attempt to avoid the possibility of face-threatening behavior. Further, she mentions that as negative evaluations of the type are frequently employed by Americans to establish solidarity, and in at least some U. S. speech communities they have the potential to open and support conversation, interactions and even relationships. If the Japanese transfer their rules of speaking to English and initially respond to griping with non-commiserative replies, they may well miss the opportunities that can lead to further interaction. She concludes that from what appears in her research, it may be very difficult for Japanese learners of English to establish fertile ground for interaction.

In another study, Boxer (1996) used ethnographic interviews as a way of tapping into the norms of both L1 and L2 communities. She found troubles-telling to be used to further conversation, build relationships, and establish solidarity. She classified the responses to griping into six categories: 1) topic switch, 2) questions, 3) contradiction, 4) joking/teasing, 5) advice/lecture, and 6) commiseration. In that study, Boxer used two sets of interviews, one of which was structured and the other open-ended, to elicit responses to gripings. Her findings reveal that gripings were seen more as a positive way of sharing mutual information and building relationships. She also found that women participated more in troubles-talks than men and were recipients of more indirect complaints because they were seen as more supportive in general than men.

Significance of the Present Research
The present research is an attempt to study the replies Iranian university students make to griping on different personal and interpersonal issues in terms of the six categories mentioned earlier. It is different from the previous studies in that this study tries to discover whether or not the responses on different issues all serve to establish commiseration.

Subjects: The subjects in this study comprised 50 university students – 25 male and 25 female – with a median age of 21 at Shahreza University, Iran. They were randomly selected from an original group of 40 female and 27 male students most of whom were majoring in ‘English Translation’.

Instrument: A DCT questionnaire of twenty items was devised to serve the purposes of the study. The stem of each item provided a griping situation, demanding a reply from the subjects. Each item included six responses (x1, x2, x3, x4, x5, x6) in line with the six categories of griping responses [1) topic switch, 2) questions, 3) contradiction, 4) joking/teasing, 5) advice/lecture and 6) commiseration]. For example:
You meet a classmate at the university. He grumbles;” Did you see what a terrible exam Mr…(a very strict teacher) gave us again?” You say:

a) When is our next exam?
b) What do you think your score will be?
c) It was not a hard exam at all.
d) Couldn’t be easier than that!
e) You should have studied harder!
f) Yeah, it was awful!

Five items (1,4,14,15,19) were griping on different subject matters among friends, five items (3,5,10,12,16) among family members, another five (2,6,7,18,20) on casual matters among strangers and the last five (8, 9, 11, 13, 17) on deeper, more challenging matters (e.g. political) among strangers.

Any student coming into my office would receive the questionnaire and would be requested to fill it out right away (if he were not in a hurry), or take it with him, complete it and bring it back later.

Data analysis: The data obtained was submitted to a 2 by 6 ANOVA. Gender was the first variable to observe as a between-subject factor (gender: 1= male, 2= female). The second variable, griping, was observed as a within-group factor (griping: x1, x2, x3, x4, x5, x6). The result of ANOVA indicates griping to be significant (F 5, 190= 21.09, 0.009) while gender does not seem to play any significant role (F<1). (see table 1)

In order to find which of the griping categories were preferred by the participants, a post hoc test (LSD) was run. (table 2)

Table 2. Post hoc Pair-wise Comparisons among Different Categories of Griping


* The mean difference is significant at the .05 level.

A further analysis of the summed pairs (x1.x2, x3.x5, x4.x6) also indicates that griping is significant (F2, 76=12.123, P=0.002) whereas the interaction of gender is again insignificant (see table, 3).

Table 3. Descriptive Statistics for Griping Categories Combined


Figure 2 simply shows that category pair (x4.x6) is more significant than other pairs.

To gain more insight into the nature of griping, the questions were grouped into four categories in terms of types of conversation such as those between friends, between family members, on casual matters between strangers and on serious matters (e.g. political) between strangers. The results indicate a significant difference between griping categories (F5, 180=21.309, P=0.001). However, the interaction between griping and question types was not significant (F15, 180= 1.351, P=0.176), (see table 4).

Table 4. Descriptive Statistics for Categories with regard to Question Types (QTYPE)

Complaint, by definition, is an expression of dissatisfaction made by one individual to another concerning the behavior of the other, in case of direct complaint, or that of a third party in the case of griping. While the illocutionary force of griping can be said to establish solidarity, its perlocutionary effect may not meet the complainer’s purpose.

The findings of this study suggest a significant difference between replies to griping, indicating that griping is mainly employed for commiseration and less for other purposes such as advice, joking and contradiction. This is in line with Boxer’s claim that griping principally aims at commiseration. The findings reveal that in response to griping, Iranian students, most of the time, feel obliged to make further conversation and maintain solidarity through the supportive speech act of commiseration.

Compared with findings of research on direct complaint (e.g. Kasper, 1981; Brown & Levinson, 1987; Wierzbicka, 1991; Olshtain & Weinbach, 1993; Laforest, 2002), this study, by implication, can serve as a piece of evidence in support of Brown and Levinson’s assumptions that, indeed, there are speech acts, such as griping, that are not only non-face-threatening but rather support seeking.

The findings, however, do not support Boxer’s finding that women participate more in troubles-talks than men, or that women mostly commiserate with griping, but men contradict or give advice. The equal attention paid to griping strategies, by both female and male groups under study with regard to furthering this act, serves to show a strong similarity between them and illustrates how both sexes have mutually assumed at least within certain limits the same reply foremost for maintaining this non-face threatening act.

The findings also indicate that the commiserative response to griping occurs not only within friendly groups but also between strangers to establish, at least, a momentary solidarity based on presumed negative evaluation.

Final Remarks
There are numerous studies investigating the speech act performance of native speakers of different languages. It has become evident in such studies and comparative studies that although the typology of speech acts appears to be universal, their conceptualization and verbalization can vary to a great extent across cultures (Blum-Kulka, House and Kasper, 1989, among others). In other words, speakers of different languages can have access to the same range of speech acts and realization strategies, but they can differ in the strategies they choose. Cross-cultural miscommunication is, thus, a result, not of poor linguistic competency, but a lack of understanding of cultural differences. In this respect, studies within the fields of pragmatics and sociolinguistics can have a tremendous impact on highlighting the potential areas one must look for in order to find out the similarities and differences between language behaviors of peoples from different cultural/linguistic backgrounds. As a result, L2 learners must be aware of L2 sociocultural constraints on speech acts in order to be pragmatically competent.

Bayrakaraglu, A. (1992). Disagreement in Turkish troubles-talk. Text, 12, 317-338.

Blum-Kulka, S., House, J. & Kaspers, G. (Eds.). (1989). Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex.

Boxer, D. (1993a). Complaining and commiserating: A speech act view of solidarity in spoken American English. New York: Peter Lang.

Boxer, D. (1993b). Social distance and speech behavior: The case of indirect complaints. Journal of Pragmatics, 19, 103-125.

Boxer, D. (1996). Ethnographic interviewing as a research tool in speech act analysis: The case of complaints. In S. M. Gass and J. Neu (Eds.), Speech acts across cultures: Challenges to communication in second language (pp. 217-299) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Brown, P. & Levinson, S. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

D’Amico-Reisner, L. (1985). An ethnolinguistic study of disapproval exchanges. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. University of Pennsylvania.

Du, J. S. (1995). Performance of face-threatening acts in Chinese: Complaining, giving bad news, and disagreeing. In G. Kasper (Ed.), Pragmatics of Chinese as a native and target language (pp. 165-206). Manoa, Hawai’i: University of Hawai’i Press.

Edmondson, W. J. (1981). On saying you’re sorry. In F. Coulmas (Ed.), Conversational routines. (pp. 273-288). New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

House, J. & Kasper, G. (1981). Politeness markers in English and German. In F. Coulmas (Ed.). Conversational routine: Explorations in standardized communication situations and prepatterned speech, Vol. 2 (pp. 157-185). The Hague: Mouton Publishers.

Jefferson, G. & Lee, J. R. E. (1981). The rejection of advice: Managing the problematic convergence of a “troubles-telling” and a ‘service encounter’. Journal of Pragmatics, 5, 399-422.

Katriel, T. (1985). ‘Griping’ as a verbal ritual in some Israeli discourse. Dialogue, 367-381.

Laforest, M. (2002). Scenes of family life: Complaining in everyday conversation. Journal of Pragmatics, 24, 1595-1620.

Michaud, S. L., & R.M. Warner. (1997). Gender in self-reported response to troublestalk. Sex Roles, 37, 527-540. (pp. 108-122). New York: Oxford University Press.

Murphy, B. &. Neu, J. (1996). My grade’s too low: The speech act set of complaining. In S. M. Gass & J. Neu (Eds.), Speech acts across cultures: Challenges to communication in second language (pp. 191-216). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyer.

Olshtain, E., & L. Weinbach. (1993). Interlanguage features of the speech act of complaining. In G. Kasper & S. Blum-Kulka (Eds.), Interlanguage Pragmatics (pp. 108-122) New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.?

Sauer, M. (2000). Complaints: A cross-cultural study of pragmatic strategies and linguistic forms. Paper presented at AAAL Conference, Vancouver, Canada.

Searle, J. R. (1976). A classification of illocutionary acts. Language in Society, 5(1), 1-24.

Tatsuki, D. H. (2000). If my complaints could passions move: An interlanguage study of aggression. Journal of Pragmatics, 32, 1003-1017.

Tannen, D. (1990). You Just Don’t Understand: Men and Women in Conversation. New York: William Morrow & Company.

Wierzbicka, A. (1991). Cross-cultural pragmatics: The semantics of human interaction, Trends in linguistics studies and monographs 53. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter.

see PDF file for appendix

The Pragmatics of Cooperation and Relevance for Teaching and Learning https://www.linguistics-journal.com/2014/01/09/the-pragmatics-of-cooperation-and-relevance-for-teaching-and-learning/ Thu, 09 Jan 2014 04:13:16 +0000 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/www2/2014/01/09/the-pragmatics-of-cooperation-and-relevance-for-teaching-and-learning/ January 2006. Volume 1
Article 1. pps 5-16 (pdf Journal version) for academic citation

The Pragmatics of Cooperation and Relevance for Teaching and Learning

Dr. Roger Nunn
Petroleum Institute, UAE

Article: PDF version MS Doc version

Education draws on such a broad range of theories and practices that important pragmatic theories based on the philosophy of language such as Grice’s theory of cooperation (1975) and Sperber and Wilson’s relevance theory (1995) have not always been considered essential even for language teachers. McCarthy (1991, p. 2), for example, in his introduction to discourse analysis for language teachers, finds no place for Grice, classifying Gricean pragmatics as intrinsically interesting, but “of little practical adaptability to the language teaching context”, adding that, over a ten-year period, he has “never met an occasion where the maxims could be usefully applied.” In contrast, as a teacher of languages for over thirty years in many different countries and contexts, I have come to see pragmatics, including Gricean pragmatics, as an essential if not the essential discipline for teachers to understand both what they are teaching and what is happening in their classrooms. As a discipline concerned, “not with language as a system or product per se, but rather with the interrelationship between language form, (communicated) messages and language users” (Oatey and Zegarac in Schmitt, 2002, p. 74), it is difficult to see pragmatics as irrelevant to a profession so centrally and essentially concerned with people, language and language use. Teaching and learning are always mediated through language, so theories of communication, precisely expressed by those trained philosophers who have turned their attention to the practical use of language, could arguably be of intrinsic interest to all teachers. For language teachers, however, they are of relevance not only for insights into the process of teaching and learning through communication but also for a consideration of what is being taught.

This discussion, instead of asking whether such important theories of communicative practice are applicable, will directly address how they are applicable. It will be necessary to adopt a dual approach considering both what is taught in language lessons and how language is taught through classroom communication. Pragmatics is doubly applicable to language teaching, because classroom language teaching is an occupation which essentially uses language in a social context to promote the learning and teaching of language for use in social contexts. As the discipline par excellence which considers why communication often fails and how it can be more successful, pragmatics is a central competence to teach students who will use language outside the classroom and to teach teachers who will mediate its use for learning inside the classroom. English language teaching must now increasingly consider the ever-increasing variety of contexts in which speakers across the globe are learning and using English. Theories of practice that shed light on how language is used in context and how people negotiate understanding, however different they may be in ability, culture and status are essential to our professional understanding.

Theories of communication can always be put to double use by language teachers. During the so-called communicative era, communicative theory sometimes tended to be applied only to the content of language lessons, to what teachers taught and students learnt. But, retrospectively, we can now see that the language teaching profession could usefully have made more use of this theory to examine its own process. Hymes’ theory of communication always had two potential applications to language teaching. Hymes’ (1971) work on communicative competence was cited in influential papers on the communicative approach, such as the collection of papers edited by Brumfit and Johnson, (1979) This was influential, in theory at least, in changing the emphasis of what we teach, from teaching language as a self-contained grammatical system towards teaching language for use in social contexts. Hymes’ ethnolinguistic essays on language and education (1980), although less frequently cited, were potentially just as relevant as they applied the theory of communication to innovation and interaction in the language classroom, which is itself a social context. Paradoxically, by applying the theory of communication itself to classroom analysis, Hymes’ theory can easily be used to support ethnolinguistic studies which indicate that a so-called communicative approach is not suited to all contexts (see Nunn, 1999, for example).

Similarly, in spite of the increase in interest in pragmatics, we should not see the discipline merely as another dimension of competence for linguistics educators to teach and test. Pragmatics has much, possibly more, to tell us about communication in the educational contexts where so many of us spend so much of our lives communicating and where communication is of the essence. In this brief discussion, I shall consider Gricean pragmatics and relevance theory in relation to pedagogical communication in general and not just to language teaching.

Grice’s maxims, which were never intended to be seen as a set of rules to be obeyed, could arguably still serve as useful guiding principles for teachers. Teachers, or students, as normal human beings, deliberately flout them, or unwittingly violate them, but it is still useful to have them there as a point of reference. If we draw on our experience as students ourselves, as classroom researchers/observers and especially as practitioners in our own classrooms, the following table could form a useful checklist for much of what can go wrong in classroom communication. Deliberate and frequent flouting of the maxim of quality, through, for example, a teacher’s sarcasm, may become a norm which helps to define the maxim of quality in a particular situation. Experienced teachers could usefully make conscious attempts to self-observe, applying Grice’s maxims to their spoken communication with students and might also want to consider them as means of making written communication more efficient. This brief editorial opinion paper will not attempt to provide an exhaustive list of applications, but to name but a few obvious applications that could have wide-reaching consequences, teachers’ language use when giving instruction or their contributions to classroom interaction can easily be considered in terms of the maxims of quantity and manner. The maxim of quality is very pertinent to teachers’ attempts to provide spontaneous explanations of grammar in that such explanations tend to “lack adequate evidence”.

Conversational Maxims (Grice 1975, p. 45)

Quantity Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange). Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.
Quality Do not say what you believe to be false. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
Relation Be relevant
Manner Be perspicuous.
Avoid obscurity of expression.
Avoid ambiguity.
Be brief. (Avoid unnecessary prolixity).
Be orderly.

The full potential of theories of implicature to both the content of teaching and the process of communicating with students in ELT has yet to be fully exploited, but there is evidence of a growing awareness of the practical applications of pragmatics to ELT. Gabrielatos (2002, cited online), for example, draws on Gricean maxims to propose general solutions to problems common to the classroom. For learners who “may communicate unintended messages through being over/under-explicit or using the wrong register, although they are grammatically accurate” he suggests:

– Avoiding asking learners to be (over) explicit at all times.

– Training learners in understanding the amount of information the listener/ reader needs or expects.

White (2001) provides a detailed description of a course design based on Gricean maxims, showing how the maxims of spoken interaction can be applied to the teaching of writing. The qualities White refers to – clarity, brevity, relevance and sincerity – are arguably usefully considered by any writers, even if maxims are made to be flouted by skilled users. This is an interesting application, because writing often tends to be more efficient than speech and Grice’s theory as well as relevance theory might seem to be almost more suited to issues of efficient written communication. Brown and Yule’s distinction between transactional and interactional language (1983, pp. 2-3) is of interest here. Transactional language is used to convey “factual or propositional information” and has the primary purpose of “the efficient transference of information”. They use “primarily” to imply that there are multiple purposes in communication. Interactional language, by contrast, is used “to establish and maintain social relationships”. As Brown and Yule point out, “It is clearly the case that a great deal of everyday human interaction is characterised by the primarily interpersonal rather than the primarily transactional use of language.”

The emphasis on “cooperation” clearly signals the relevance of Gricean pragmatics to classroom learning. The communication between students and teachers involves both transactional and interpersonal language, the latter being particularly important with regard to establishing the kind of interpersonal relationship that will enable educational transactions to take place in an atmosphere of cooperation and motivation. Grice’s (1989, p. 26) characterization of “cooperation” – “each participant recognizes in them [talk exchanges], to some extent, a common purpose or set of purposes, or at least a mutually accepted direction” – could be seen as an essential requirement of classroom discourse. The wording of the principle of cooperation is sufficiently flexible to be applicable to different genres of communication, including classroom communication:

Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged. (Grice 1975, p. 45)

However, useful the maxims may appear as a set of “rules” of good conduct, it is vital to keep reminding ourselves that Grice’s maxims are not rules and are only part of a much broader theory about the inferential process. They are subordinated to the principle of cooperation which is itself only one constituent of a theory which is essentially about implicature in an inferential process. This process requires consideration of the following:

(1) the conventional meaning of the words used, together with the identity of any references that may be involved; (2) the Co-operative Principle and its maxims, (3) the context, linguistic and otherwise, of the utterance; (4) other items of background knowledge; and (5) the fact (or supposed fact) that all relevant items falling under the previous headings are available to both participants and both participants know or assume this to be the case.(1989, p. 31).

Just like in other contexts, maxims of varying kinds applied to the relationship between a teacher and students exist in a complex relationship with each other and are all subordinated to the broadly defined principle of co-operation and influence the process of conversational implicature, the way interlocutors achieve or don’t achieve understanding. Further maxims related to social harmony such as “be polite” are accepted by Grice. They conflict with the four maxims associated with the efficient transfer of information, such as the maxims of quality or relevance. When the preservation of social relationships conflicts with the maxims of quality, quantity or manner, which make transactional communication more efficient, this does not discredit the co-operative paradigm. Such clashes can be seen as essential and normal features of the communication process leading to useful and necessary inferences, requiring us to balance efficiency with social skill. A teacher who is merely an efficient communicator is unlikely to be a successful motivator of students, just as a teacher who emphasizes social skills alone is unlikely to inspire real achievement.

In the following sample of classroom discourse recorded in a secondary school English class in the Middle East, the teacher (T) uses multiple elicitations, a very common feature of his classroom contributions. This leads to a chorus of bids to contribute from students (SS). The local teacher was criticised for this in post lesson analysis by a western teacher trainer.

T. Why?
Why did he send this letter to Farouk Mousa?

SS. (teacher teacher)

T. Yes, Raad?

S. To help his son.

T. To help his son, very good, to help his son.
With what?
What does his son need?
What does he need?
Come on.
The rest. What does he need?
What does Jim need?

Yes? Yes?
He needs…

S. some money

T. some money. Very good.

Who can tell me again? Telex no 1
What’s the main point in telex no 1?
Some of the main points?

Er what have you got from telex no 1 again?
What have you got from telex …what is it about, telex no 1?
Ha? Telex no 1 … what is it about?

An analysis of this technique of multiple elicitation, often delivered during this lesson in a declamatory style, can be considered in terms of Grice’s maxims of quantity and manner and it is all too easy for an outsider to conclude that there is too much “teacher talk” and repetition and that the teacher could usefully consider the maxim of manner “be brief”. But quantity and manner also need to be considered in terms of Grice’s Principle to which the maxims are subordinated. Considering the wording of the principle, which refers to making contributions “such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange” might lead to a different conclusion. The “accepted purpose” is difficult to assess but is deducible from the observed effect in the discourse, which is eager crescendos of bidding from the students and very broad participation from all corners of a very large class. Grice also requires us to consider “context, linguistic and otherwise” and other features of the background situation, including the cultural context in which the discourse is embedded. At this “stage in the discourse” the teacher is observably trying to obtain broader participation. This was a mixed ability class of more than forty students, so there might be other pedagogical reasons in the context that require the teacher to override an outsider’s view of appropriate quantity and brevity. The declamatory style was also arguably appropriate to the cultural context. However, this is not to say that this teacher might not usefully be asked to consider his own discourse non-judgementally in terms of the principle and its maxims. Further research with other teachers in the same context indicated that this teachers’ elicitation style, in terms of both quantity and manner, was atypical. Grice’s maxims are not rules to follow blindly, but they do provide the reflective teacher with a useful means of critically examining his or her own interactive behaviour. All teachers can benefit from an external means of re-assessing something that is such an essential component of their daily practice.

While “cooperation” will always be a useful concept for educators, Sperber and Wilson (1995) consider that the maxim of “relevance” is not given enough importance and promote it to a superordinate concept. This focus sometimes appears too narrow, and requires us to acquire a number of concepts which at first sight seem to favour rather opaque jargon, such as “mutual manifest assumptions” or “ostension”. But relevance theory is well worth the “processing effort”, because it is about much more than “relevance”. It contains many insights into the necessary conditions for acquiring knowledge through communication, which are central to the teaching-learning process.

Sperber and Wilson (1995, p. vii) suggest that “individuals must focus their attention on what seems to them to be the most relevant information available”. This is necessary to be as efficient as possible using the smallest possible processing effort. The most efficient communication produces maximum effects with the least possible processing effort. To ensure that classroom communication responds to the requirements of relevance, teachers need to make assumptions about their students’ present state of knowledge. Teachers always feel that what they are teaching is ‘relevant’, but students may perceive the processing effort as too large. This not just a question of “effort” in terms of motivation and commitment. It is also a question of a student’s conceptual and psychological readiness to take on new assumptions. When new assumptions are presented, they need to be perceived as relevant. In terms of relevance theory, teachers perform acts of ‘ostension’, making new knowledge or assumptions ‘manifest’ to students. Acts of ‘ostension’ provide new information not previously available but intended to be optimally relevant.

Relevance theory is a theory of practice and admits what most teachers instinctively know. Making something available or ‘manifest’ does not guarantee it will be learnt by students. According to Sperber and Wilson (152) “a phenomenon is relevant to an individual if and only if one or more of the assumptions it makes manifest is relevant to him.” To be relevant, ‘new’ information or assumptions have to combine with known information or assumptions to produce “contextual effects” (108). Importantly a ‘context’ for Sperber and Wilson (15) is “a psychological construct, a subset of the hearer’s assumptions about the world.” If students perceive no relevant link, even the most motivated and willing students are not able to learn. The student needs to believe that the teacher has not been obscure. New information, if perceived as relevant, may have two effects: it may lead students to modify or even abandon old assumptions. However, new information may also support and therefore strengthen old assumptions.

The “degree of confidence” we have in our assumptions influence our learning behaviour. ‘Assumptions’ are defined by Sperber and Wilson (1995, p. 2) as “thoughts treated by the individual as representations of the actual world”. Perception is not directly connected to an objectively determined actual state of the world but to assumptions about the world. Education has the obvious aim of developing and improving these assumptions. Providing teachers and students reach a level of communication which meets mutual perceptions of relevance, the real business of educational improvement may begin.

Improvements in our representation of the world can be achieved not only by adding justified new assumptions to it, but also by appropriately raising or lowering our degree of confidence in them, the degree to which we take them to be confirmed. (p. 76)

Teachers are often aware that students place too much confidence in underdeveloped assumptions. An important implication of relevance theory is that the teacher needs to improve awareness about the students’ starting assumptions.

While what appears above might seem mainly theoretical, Grice’s maxims and relevance theory can be built into educational activities of all kinds in a very practical way. (For detailed discussion, see Nunn, 2003 which outlines an instructional procedure for practising and analysing intercultural negotiation, in simulated situations in which high level of awareness of assumptions about common knowledge are of central importance to performance.)

A brief example of how to build in relevance checks into an offshoot of the traditional lecture adapted to content-based language teaching, in the form of a mini-lecture is provided below. Grice’s maxims can be applied quite naturally to the delivery of a lecture. The collaborative note-taking print (Nunn and Lingley, 2004) in the table below illustrates one means of checking its relevance. Students use the print to consolidate lecture material with a partner, but the teacher also collects the prints to assess the relevance of the overall lecture. Relevance in this case includes but is not limited to comprehension. Applying Grice’s broader theory of implicature and the aspects of relevance theory discussed above also require us to consider other important variables embodied in the inferential process that underlie the delivery and reception of (mini)lectures in addition to the issue of student perception/understanding of lectures, such as the lecture’s awareness and adaptation to students’ L1 culture of learning/teaching, student expectations and what the students bring to the class themselves.

Collaborative Note-taking Print (adapted from Nunn and Lingley, 2004)

Your Partner
Mini-Lecture title:

Main points of the lecture:

New information:


General ability to understand the lecture

Which information was the most relevant?

Was any information irrelevant to you?

Mini-Lecture title:

Main points of the lecture:

New information:


General ability to understand the lecture

Which information was the most relevant?

Was any information irrelevant to you?

This brief paper has considered the applications of just one theory based on the philosophy of language. Teachers can benefit from the precision and rigour provided by trained philosophers such as Grice or Sperber and Wilson as an aid to understanding and operationalizing key concepts such as “relevance” and “cooperation” that are commonly used but rarely precisely defined. As Lowe (2004) points out, theory that informs practice based on the philosophy of language provides a useful tool for the reflective language teacher, and is currently an underexploited resource. This brief discussion has attempted to outline the relevance of pragmatic theory to educational discourse, suggesting that it encourages educators to pay greater attention to the educational process as an essentially cooperative activity, “cooperation” in this sense being rigorously defined in terms of transactional maxims and interactional principles.

While it might be argued that it is obvious that teachers need to be “relevant”, and all teachers are aware of this, “relevance” is defined in pragmatics well beyond the conventional “lay sense” of the term. It is an abstract concept and a difficult one to pin down and operationalize. A detailed awareness of the pragmatic meaning of relevance precisely defined within a coherent theory of communication can provide important insights into how to provide the kind of classroom activities and tasks that are both of practical interest and based on a sound theory of communicative practice. Whereas theories of communication have commonly been applied to the content of language courses, they have less commonly been applied to the process of education, which is always mediated through language.

Brumfit, C, & Johnson, K. (Eds.). (1979). The communicative approach to language teaching. London: Oxford University Press.

Gabrielatos, C. (2002). Inference procedures and implications for ELT. First published in R.P. Millrood (Ed.), (2002). Research Methodology: Discourse in teaching a foreign language (pp. 30-52). Tambov: Tambov State University Press. Also available through ERIC (accession number ED476840). Retrieved January 20, 2006 from http://www.gabrielatos.com/Inference.htm

Grice, H.P. (1975). Logic and conversation. In P. Cole & J. Morgan (Eds.), Syntax and semantics 3: Speech acts (pp. 41-58). New York: Academic Press.

Grice, H. P. (1989). Studies in the way of words. London: Harvard University Press.

Hymes, D. (1971). On communicative competence. In C. Brumfit & K. Johnson (Eds). (1979). The communicative approach to language teaching (pp. 5-26) London: Oxford University Press.

Hymes, D. (1980). Language & education: Ethnolinguistic essays. Washington, DC: Centre for Applied Linguistics.

Lowe, M. (2004). Language philosophy and language teaching. First published in IATEFL Issue 180, Oct/Nov, 2004. Retrieved January 20, 2006 from

McCarthy, M. (1991). Discourse analysis for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nunn, R. and Lingley, D. (2004). Revamping the lecture for EFL classes: A case for mini-lectures. The Language Teacher, 28(3), 15-20.
http://www.jalt publications.org/tlt/articles/2004/03/nunn

Nunn, R. (1999). The purposes of language teachers’ questions. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, IRAL, 37(1), 23-42.

Nunn, R. (2003). Intercultural communication and Grice’s principle. Asian EFL Journal, 14(1). Retrieved January 20, 2006 from

Schmitt, N. and Celce-Murcia, M. (2002). An overview of applied linguistics. In N. Schmitt (Ed.), An Introduction to Applied Linguistics (pp. 1-18) London: Edward Arnold.

Spencer-Oatey, H. and Zegerac, V. (2002) Pragmatics. In N. Schmitt (Ed.) An Introduction to Applied Linguistics (pp. 74-91) London: Edward Arnold.

Sperber, D. and Wilson, D. (1995). Relevance: Communication and cognition (2nd ed.) Oxford, England: Blackwell.

White, R. (2001). Adapting Grice’s maxims in the teaching of writing. ELT Journal, 55(1), 62-69.

Foreword – January 2006 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/2014/01/09/foreword-january-2006/ Thu, 09 Jan 2014 02:29:54 +0000 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/www2/2014/01/09/foreword-january-2006/ January 2006. Volume 1
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Welcome to the first edition of The Linguistics Journal. It is our pleasure to publish four articles which have gone through a rigorous editorial procedure. I would like to thank those authors and editors who have in the last few months worked hard together to attain a standard of which we are proud. I especially use the word “together” because there is a strong ethos in this Journal of editors and authors working together in collaboration. This has been the policy at Asian EFL Journal and will continue to be so at The Linguistics Journal.

The opening op.ed. article published in this first edition has been written by Dr. Roger Nunn, from The Petroleum Institute in the UAE, an insightful study of the practical use of pragmatics in the EFL classroom. This is an essential reminder of the “applied” nature of much of linguistics. The second article comes from Drs. Jamshidiha and Marefat from the University of Tehran who look at first language attrition among Persian speakers of English, comparing Persian monolinguals with early and late bilinguals. The third article is from Dr. Farood Sepassi and Mr. Marzban at Azad University, Shiraz who present a fascinating quantitative study of anaphor resolution. Finally, Mr. Hamid Allami from Yadz University, Iran, investigates the concept of “griping” among Iranian students.

I hope you enjoy these first four studies in The Linguistics Journal. We look forward to any feedback you may have and hope you will view the site as a valuable academic source. Your own contributions are always welcome.

John Adamson, Ed.D.
Senior Associate Editor


Volume 1. Issue 1. January 2006

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Foreword by John Adamson.

1. Roger Nunn. – The Pragmatics of Cooperation and Relevance for Teaching and Learning
2. Hamideh Jamshidiha and Hamideh Marefat. L1 Persian Attrition
3. Forood Sepassi and Amin Marzban. Anaphor Resolution in Implicit and Explicit Causality Structures ofthe Active and Passive Types
4. Hamid Allami. A Sociopragmatic Analysis of Griping: The Case of Iranian Students

Corpus Linguistics and the Study of Meaning in Discourse https://www.linguistics-journal.com/2014/01/09/corpus-linguistics-and-the-study-of-meaning-in-discourse/ Thu, 09 Jan 2014 02:28:19 +0000 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/www2/2014/01/09/corpus-linguistics-and-the-study-of-meaning-in-discourse/ June 2006 home PDF version |

January 2006. Volume 2

Corpus Linguistics and the Study of Meaning in Discourse

Nelya Koteyko



In this paper I discuss contributions that corpus linguistics can make to the study of meaning in discourse. The article takes account of theories and methodologies within structuralism and poststucturalism, which have opened new alleys towards the analysis and interpretation of meanings in linguistics and in a range of related disciplines, in order to provide a theoretical foundation for the corpus linguistic study of meaning in discourse. The focus is on the qualitative analysis of discourse seen as a concrete socio-historical formation characterised by particular ways of using language. In particular, I am interested in the contribution that corpus linguistics can make to the historically-oriented “genealogical” analysis of discourse in the tradition of Foucault. Taking into account theorisations of the concept of discourse in linguistics and social sciences, suggestions are made for underlaying both the synchronic and diachronic aspect of discourse analysis with a principled collection and documentation of data.

Key words: corpus linguistics, discourse, Foucault, meaning.

1. Introduction
Whilst branches of linguistics such as syntax, semantics, and sociolinguistics have as their aim the description of an aspect of language structure or language use, corpus linguistics is a broader concept that can be applied to many aspects of linguistic enquiry. During its early days corpus linguistics was seen merely as a bundle of methods and procedures that deal with empirical data in linguistics. It was predominantly employed to serve lexicography and language teaching. With the formulation of more theoretical principles underlying the corpus approach, we can observe the emergence of corpus linguistics as a (sub-) discipline in its own right. This has lead to a new focus on qualitative analysis together with a concern of discourse in Foucauldian sense, i.e. as a concrete socio-historical formation characterised by particular ways of using language. This article takes up and develops such an approach.

The article takes account of theories and methodologies within structuralism and poststucturalism, which have opened new alleys towards the analysis and interpretation of meaning in linguistics and in a range of related disciplines, in order to provide a theoretical foundation for the corpus linguistic study of meaning in discourse. First, I outline the uses of the term “discourse” in linguistics and social sciences to show different understandings of discourse analysis within the disciplines. The term “discourse” implies a complex interrelationship between the linguistic and the social and different approaches construe this relationship on different terms, as there are several ways to see how meaning is created in language use. Depending on the approach, the understanding of the term “discourse” determines the choice of corpus linguistic principles to supplement discourse analysis. Therefore, further in this article I discuss the concept of discourse and discourse analysis within the theoretical framework of corpus linguistics to demonstrate how corpus linguistics can contribute not only to the analysis of discourse on the level of the quantitative studies of lexis and syntax but also to discourse analysis aimed at the interpretation of lexical items in a particular context (i.e. studies where discourse is theorised as a complex relationship between language, ideology and society).

2. Discourse: The Problem of Definition
Currently, the notion of discourse is employed across a range of disciplines from linguistics to cultural studies and anthropology, and can mean “something as specific as spoken language, or something as general as the social process of communication” (Lemke, 1995, p. 6). The multiplicity of disciplines and approaches that study written or spoken communication makes an attempt to define discourse a difficult task, and it is not my aim here to provide a comprehensive overview of all the approaches. The objective is to present central ideas that influenced the development of the concept of “discourse” in social sciences and linguistics in order to discuss the use of the term in critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics.

2.1 The Term “Discourse” in Linguistics
In linguistics, discourse has developed as the main object of investigation in two sub-disciplines: conversation analysis and the analysis of written text. Hence at least two definitions of discourse have been elaborated. Here discourse is predominantly seen as 1) language above the sentence level that is extended chunks of text; 2) language in use.

For example, Conversation Analysis (Schegloff and Sacks, 1973; Shegloff, 1998) – a research tradition that grew out of ethnomethodology – studies the social organization of “talk-in-interaction” by a detailed inspection of tape recordings and transcriptions made from such recordings. Therefore, for practitioners of conversation analysis discourse is first of all a naturally occurring conversation, i.e. instances of language in use. It is characterised by the two level view of discourse – the micro level of utterance and the macro level of context of situation.
Compared to previous sentence-dominated models of text analysis, written discourse analysis offers a fundamentally different way of looking at language that proved to be particularly useful in language teaching (Widdowson, 1978). Descriptive discourse approaches to the analysis of written texts are exemplified by the works of Hoey (1994), Winter (1994) and Coulthard (1994). These studies look at texts in terms of their vocabulary, grammar and how these relate to the cohesion and to the realization of the text’s micro and macro structure. Genre Analysis (Swales, 1990) is another discourse analytical approach, where the conventions common to texts of similar type, for example, academic articles, are described.

In general, discourse analysis in Applied Linguistics investigates how lexico-grammatical forms take on meanings in particular contexts, thus seeking to match form and function. Although the emphasis is on how the context affects the use of language (discourse), the proponents of such discourse analysis are not concerned with the ideological implications of language use. This version of discourse analysis does not aim to explore why and how the individuals come to say certain things, as the users of language are seen as more or less autonomous actors who establish meanings by intention and inference. This contrasts with Marxist approaches (critical discourse analysis discussed further in this paper) that operate with a broader understanding of context and thus with a politicized view of discourse, where subject is “interpellated” by discourse or ideology (Althusser, 1971).

2.2 The Term “Discourse” in Social Sciences
In the late 1960-s significant shifts occurred in the conceptualisation of how meanings are constructed through the social use of language. The models developed as the result of this shift have the notion of discourse as their central category. Their common feature is the definition of discourse as a form of social practice. The new angle on the view of discourse challenged the structuralist concept of “language” as an abstract system (Saussure’s langue) and emphasized the process of making and using meanings within particular historical, social, and political conditions. At this level, then, the term discourse is employed to explain the conditions of language use within the social relations that structure them.

2.1.1 Foucault’s archaeology and genealogy.
Foucault’s approach to discourse is central to many works in social sciences. Despite the wide influence of his works on the conceptualisation of discourse, Foucault does not provide a consistent and clear definition of this term. Foucault (1989) himself acknowledges the wide range of meanings that the term “discourse” has in his works:

Instead of gradually reducing the rather fluctuating meaning of the word ‘discourse’ I believe I have in fact added to its meanings: treating it as sometimes the general domain of all statements, sometimes as an individualisable group of statements, and sometimes as a regulated practice that accounts for a number of statements. (p. 80)

The main points in Foucault’s discussion of discourse in his “Archaeology of Knowledge” are as follows: 1) the smallest unit of discourse is a statement; 2) discourse is the body of formulated statements and represents the archive of the discourse analyst; 3) regularity in dispersion of statements is called discursive formation: “whenever one can describe, between a number of statements, such a system of dispersion, whenever, between objects, types of statements, concepts, or thematic choices, one can define a regularity, we will say, for the sake of convenience, that we are dealing with discursive formation” (Foucault, 1989, p.38).

For Foucault then, discourse does not consist of texts but statements. Texts or books do not have strict boundaries to provide the basis for discourse analysis. A statement subscribes to certain concepts and is a statement only in the surrounding of formulations that it implicitly or explicitly refers to, by the way of modifying them, repeating them, or opposing them. According to Foucault, statements always invoke other statements in one way or another: statements do not only relate to previous statements but also contain some features of the future ones.

In contrast to literary analysis, Foucault’s discourse analysis does not see a book or a text as embodiment of the writer’s thoughts, experiences, or unconscious. It does not strive to interpret texts in order to make them complete. Therefore, any analysis of a statement should not go back to the author and his intentions or circumstances. According to Foucault (1989), a statement should be analysed as it appears in discourse, and cannot be reduced to expressing anything external, such as for example, an underlying intention, or context:

Archaeology tries to define not the thoughts, representations, images, themes, pre-occupations that are concealed or revealed in discourses; but those discourses themselves, those discourses as practices obeying certain rules…It is not an interpretative discipline: it does not seek another, better-hidden discourse. (p.138)

A study of discourse based on the Foucault’s views would thus be concerned with “the rules (practices, technologies) which make a certain statement possible to occur and others not at particular times, places and institutional locations” (Foucault, 1989, p.21). This is of importance for the historical analysis of meaning of lexical items: each time period is characterized by its own means of knowledge production. Such kind of analysis aims to clarify why a particular knowledge is articulated in the specified time period, and how it finds reflection in the meaning of lexical items used in this period.

Foucault’s archaeology is predominantly a synchronous analysis of statements in discourse seeking to uncover complexities of texts and how each discourse delimits its own boundaries. At the later stage of his work, Foucault turns to the problems of power and develops a historically oriented “genealogical” line of analysis drawing on Nietzsche’s “Genealogy of Morals” (Foucault, 1984). Here we see Foucault using the term “discourse” to refer to any written or spoken language in which power is exercised: “As history constantly teaches us, discourse is not simply that which translates struggles or systems of domination, but is the thing for which and by which there is struggle” (Foucault, 1981, p. 372). Therefore, power is always present regardless of the approach to things chosen, as long as the objects we relate to are objects produced by discourse.

Foucault represents the European (mainly French) tradition of discourse analysis, which embraces the “socio-historical-political” view of discourse. This approach tends to theorise discourse from the very beginning as “socio-historically specific systems of knowledge and thought” (McHoul and Luke, 1989, p. 324). According to Foucault then, discourse is inseparable from ideology although he avoids the use of the term itself. Meaning, as studied in discourse, is always ideological. This contrasts with the discourse analysis carried out according to Anglo-American tradition (Critical Discourse Analysis discussed below), where the analysis is carried on within a dualistic framework of the linguistic analysis and an added-on political dimension (McHoul and Luke, 1989).

As Foucault’s view of discourse does not include the concept of ideology there still remains the difficulty of explaining the ways in which oppositional political ideologies are constituted and function (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985, pp. 134-45). In this regard, Howarth (2002), for example, suggests supplementing Foucault’s genealogical account of political discourse with a post-Marxist concept of hegemonic practice that enables one to explain the formation of oppositional ideologies. In a similar way, Michel Pêcheux successfully incorporates the concept of oppositional ideologies into the theory of language and discourse. His work is discussed in the next section.

2.1.2 “Discourse” in the works of Michel Pêcheux.
The French discourse theorist Michel Pêcheux works in the space between the “subject of language” and the “subject of ideology”. His work is characterised by a pronounced focus on establishing the connections between the linguistic theory and the theory of discourse and provides insights into the conditions for an oppositional politics of the production of meaning.

In his “Language, Semantics and Ideology”, Pêcheux sees discourse as an intermediate link between language and ideology (language here is seen as the object of linguistics, i.e. the Sausserian langue) as he attempts to clarify the links between the “obviousness of meaning” and “the obviousness of the subject” (1982, p.55). For Pêcheux, discursivity is not indifferent to ideological struggles, because “every discursive process is inscribed into an ideological class relationship” (1982, p. 59).

In the traditional view of lexicon, a lexeme is seen as the smallest carrier of meaning, and words as having their own meaning. In contrast to this position, Pêcheux maintains that words do not have their own “word” meanings. As he writes, “a word, expression or proposition does not have a meaning of its own, a meaning attached to its literality.” Pêcheux emphasizes that meaning, “does not exist anywhere except in the metaphorical relationships (realized in substitution effects, paraphrases, synonym formations) which happen to be more or less provisionally located in a given discursive formation: words, expressions, and propositions get their meanings from the discursive formation to which they belong” (Pêcheux, 1982, p. 188).

Lexemes are thus seen as having a discursive meaning identifiable through their interrelations with other lexemes. As in Foucault’s view of discourse, meaning is seen as dependant on a complex system of statements and is thus influenced by the discursive practice. Following Pêcheux’s analytical insights, the study of paraphrases, those “metaphorical relationships”, as he calls them, in which meaning is located within the boundaries of a discursive formation can lead to insights into the ideological dimension of meaning.

According to one of Pêcheux’s main theses “words, expressions, propositions, etc., change their meaning according to the [ideological] positions held by those who use them, which signifies that they find their meaning by reference to those positions; that is, by reference to the ideological formations in which those positions are inscribed” (1982, p.111). Here Pêcheux suggests that the naturalness or obviousness of words or expressions (after Althusser, 1971) leads to changes in their meaning as they “slide” or “slip” from one discursive formation to another. Therefore, new meanings of lexical items arise from interdiscursive relations and are the result of the struggle for power.

2.3 The Term “Discourse” in the Works of Critical Discourse Analysts
So far, a clear distinction was maintained between the use of the term “discourse” in Linguistics and Critical Theory – a branch of scholarship elaborated by a group of scholars from the Frankfurt school that deals with the development of emancipatory knowledge – knowledge that can empower otherwise powerless groups and lead to the creation of a society free from domination of anyone’s interests. However, there are examples of the definition of the term that draw on both disciplines. Thus, proponents of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) fuse the linguistic and critical theory definitions of the term and focus on “not just describing discursive practices, but also showing how discourse is shaped by relations of power and ideologies, and the constructive effects discourse has upon social identities, neither of which is normally apparent to discourse participants” (Fairclough, 1992, p.12).

This direction in discourse analysis is therefore highly politicized as it is devised to bring out hidden meanings and implicit assumptions that would otherwise escape critical attention. Drawing on the works of a number of influential discourse theorists (including the above mentioned works of Foucault and Pecheux) CDA aims to help the analyst understand social problems that are mediated by mainstream ideology and power relationships. Discourse is seen as both socially constituted and socially constitutive as it produces objects of knowledge, social identities and relationships between people (Fairclough, 1995).

For example, Fairclough’s works, “Language and Power” (1989) and “Critical Discourse Analysis” (1995), articulate a three-dimensional framework for studying discourse, “where the aim is to map three separate forms of analysis onto one another: analysis of (spoken or written) language texts, analysis of discourse practice (processes of text production, distribution and consumption) and analysis of discursive events as instances of sociocultural practice” (1995, p. 2).

An important method for analysing discursive practice for Fairclough is through the concept of “intertextuality” which (following Bakhtin, 1981) refers to the way texts derive their meaning from other texts (Fairclough, 1992). Fairclough approaches intertextuality on the macro level of narratives, genres, and discourses. The intertextual analysis aims to show how media texts are constituted through often hybrid configurations of different genres and discourses, which in turn constitute the larger “orders of discourse”. In this sense, the analysis of discourse practise relates textual analysis to the analysis of sociocultural practise.

A number of criticisms have been raised about CDA’s methods of data collection and description. There is no typical way of collecting data in CDA. Some authors do not even mention data collection methods and others rely strongly on traditions based outside sociolinguistic field (cf. Titscher et al., 2000). There is little discussion about statistical and theoretical representativeness of the material analysed (Stubbs, 1997). Many CDA studies deal with only small corpora which are usually regarded as being typical of certain discourses. Hence the criticism is about untheorised choice and use of fragmentary textual material, which make replication and comparison of different studies difficult to achieve.

For example, Fairclough’s approach to critical discourse analysis is designed for the analysis of a relatively small number of texts. A very detailed linguistic analysis suggested by his framework would be impossible to carry out on a large collection of texts. Therefore, Fairclough uses carefully selected texts only to exemplify the main categories of his approach. This emphasis on micro-linguistic analysis makes it difficult to transfer the results to the macro level of social theory.

The procedure of CDA is defined by as interpretative process (Meyer 2001, p.16), although the stance of performing interpretative (hermeneutic) analysis is not made explicit by all critical discourse analysts. The interpretative procedure, as a method of identifying and summarising meaning relations, presupposes that a substantial amount of data is analysed, because the process of interpretation is based upon the identification of the links a text or a text segment has with other texts. Consequently, a detailed documentation of the data used in the investigation is also necessary. In contrast to the outlined procedure, CDA adopts rather “text-reducing” method of analysis as it concentrates on clear formal properties of a small number of texts, which contradicts their “hermeneutic endeavour” (Meyer 2001, p. 16).

Another point of criticism is the lack of diachronic studies in CDA. CDA analytical frameworks, with the exception of Wodak’s historical method (Weiss and Wodak, 2003) tend to be ethnographic, and thus synchronic. Critical discourse analysts identify changes in meanings of lexical items when they talk about their connotations signalling ideological bias, but because of their limited use of textual sources, they do not document these changes diachronically or quantitatively. However, any attempt at understanding the impact of temporal context needs to include a diachronic perspective and in one of the following sections of this paper I will discuss how corpus linguistics can be employed for diachronic investigations of meaning in discourse.

3. Discourse and Discourse Analysis in Corpus Linguistics
In her criticism of sociolinguistics, Hasan (2004) emphasizes the importance of data driven research within the field that investigates the interrelations between the linguistic and the social. Only when the sociolinguistics allows “data to speak to it”, it becomes obvious that language has to be viewed as meaning potential. Below I introduce the view of discourse in corpus linguistics which, being a strongly data driven approach, can not only be complementary for conducting discourse analysis in Applied Linguistics and CDA but also can serve as a theoretical framework for the historically oriented “genealogical” analysis in Foucauldian sense.

3.1 The Term “Discourse” in Corpus Linguistics
Corpus research started out as a methodological approach based on collecting and documenting real-life language data. The field was established in 1967, when Henry Kucera and Nelson Francis published their classic work “Computational Analysis of Present-Day American English” on the basis of the Brown Corpus. Corpus linguists emphasize the importance of studying patterns of real language use in linguistic research. They advocate an analysis of language based on large collections of authentic texts – corpora. Corpora are used to derive empirical knowledge about language, which can supplement information from reference sources and introspection.

For corpus linguistics then, discourse is a totality of texts produced by a community of language users who identify themselves as members of a social group on the basis of the commonality of their world views (Teubert, 2005). Their shared attitudes and beliefs find reflection in the way members of such a community use language – which topics they highlight in their conversations, which expressions recur in their day-to-day interaction etc. (the view of discourse community common in Cultural Studies). Such a discourse is what Foucault (1989, p. 80), cited above, refers to as “individualisable group of statements”- a group of statements which seem to exemplify a similar sets of concerns and which have some coherence, e.g. “discourse of organic food promotion” or “discourse of British left wing press”.

As corpus linguists have nothing but texts at their disposal they have to be content with the version of reality supplied by discourse members who produce the texts. In contrast to the tradition of Sausserian structuralism, as well as some approaches in CDA (for criticism see Pennycook, 1994), which assume that there is an “underlying” pre-given reality beyond signs, the reality obscured by “misinterpretation”, the corpus-driven approach views discourse as a self-referential system (Teubert, 2005) and meaning as an entirely discourse internal phenomenon

According to such a view, discourse has a reality of its own, constructed of past and current texts, and is thus constitutive of its objects. Facts can be found only within discourse. This is not to say that discourse external “real world” facts do not exist, but that they are not knowable to us, cannot be communicated and thus do not have any meaning outside discourse. Consequently, texts never show us what “really” happened, only “the narrative of what happened” with a point of view and cultural/ideological interests (Irvine, 1994).

The social perspective on meaning advocated by corpus linguists implies that meaning is seen not as personal or cognitive but as cultural and shared. This is characteristic of the social constructionist approach, according to which “…it is within social interaction that language is generated, sustained, and abandoned. . . The emphasis is thus not on the individual mind but on the meanings generated by people as they collectively generate descriptions and explanations in language” (Gergen and Gergen, 1991, p. 78).

Thus, the corpus linguistic approach is compatible with the Foucauldian analysis of discourse though the latter is not linguistic in the traditional sense. As discussed above, for traditional linguistics, discourse is language in use, a communicative exchange, not a complex entity that extends into the realms of ideology, strategy, language and practice, and is shaped by the relations between power and knowledge, as it is for Foucault and, currently, for the proponents of CDA. Nevertheless, there are common points which allow merging linguistic and “archaeological” methods of research in the corpus-driven approach to the study of discourse: 1) the view of language as a social construct 2) the emphasis on historical and cultural aspects of meaning production in discourse. From this perspective, the corpus-driven approach to discourse would be focused not on how meanings are constructed between sentences, which is characteristic of the abovementioned approach to discourse analysis in Applied Linguistics, but rather on how meanings come to be articulated at particular moments in history.

3.2 Corpus Linguistics and Quantitative Methods of Discourse Analysis
During its first years, corpus research was widely used to complement methodologies in the studies of linguistic variation. Its quantitative methods were new and quickly became popular in various branches of language analysis. Corpus linguistics can, and indeed has been used to supplement both the discourse analysis in Applied Linguistics – (the “non-critical” discourse analysis employed in language teaching) and Critical Discourse Analysis aimed at revealing ideological biases on the basis of the synchronic studies of lexical patterns (Orpin, 2005 among the most recent).

Thus, the predominantly synchronic corpus-driven approach following the British traditions of text analysis proclaims a close link between co-text and context . It is assumed that the choice of words in a text reflects social choices, and it is in this way that the selection at the textual level is seen as reflecting the contextual level dealing with social and cultural aspects. This link between co-text and context is important for the study of language of a particular discourse, and also enables comparison between discourses, as the same words and expressions within the same language can have different semantic values for people from different discourse communities. By comparing the ways that discourse communities use language on the basis of corpora specifically tailored for that purpose, particularly in respect to the lexical choices they make, a corpus linguist has a good picture of what it is that makes their language ideological.

The computer software allows systematic analysis of discursive patterns without recourse to the authors and their intentions. Therefore, a segment of discourse in the form of a corpus is analysed as a collective body of statements and not as a collection of opinions of individual authors. Details about the authors’ social background are seen as irrelevant for the purpose of the investigation. Concordance or collocation software picks out only recurrent patterns, thus producing empirical evidence for how the object of discourse is formed. Not employing the notion of authority and authorship, we automatically discard any interest in what lies hidden; the analysis is concerned only with what is on the “surface” of the texts.

For example, Stubbs (1996) provides an example of such a methodological framework. Subscribing to the views on discourse of Foucault and Firth he examines culturally important keywords and fixed phrases, “the kinds of things that are repeatedly said, in discourse which is jointly constructed, but which is known consciously by no one” with corpus linguistic methods (1996, p. 194). Such an approach is corpus-driven – it constitutes a methodology that uses a corpus beyond the selection of examples to support linguistic arguments or to validate a theoretical statement (Tognini-Bonelli, 2001). The theoretical statements, as well as comments or recommendations made, arise directly from, and reflect, the evidence provided by the corpus.

3.3 Corpus Linguistics and Qualitative Analysis of Discourse
With the formulation of more theoretical principles underlying the corpus approach (Thomas and Short, 1996; Teubert, 2005), we can observe a new focus on qualitative analysis. In the course of linguistic analysis the following question is posed: what are the rules governing the production of a particular statement, and other statements related to it? During the investigation of meaning in a particular discourse the focus is on the different issue, namely: why is this particular statement and not the other? Here there is a shift of emphasis from description to explanation characterised by the objective to analyse the specific meaning construed in discourse within particular spatial and temporal frames. This is the view of discourse analysis found in Foucault’s works, whose interest was in “seeing historically how effects of truth are produced within discourses which in themselves are neither true nor false” (Foucault, 1980, p.118).

If meaning is to be searched for in discourse itself, as suggested by Foucault, then we need a much larger “archive” of texts to look for reactions and paraphrases (i.e. all additions and changes to meaning) than is normally compiled by critical discourse analysts. The archive of statements in the machine readable form would then allow studying the discursive emergence of meaning on the level of language . Corpus linguistics – being a (sub-) discipline that deals with large bodies of authentic language data can provide such a possibility. However, the large quantity of real language data is only one essential component of the “socio-historically” oriented study of discourse. The principled choice of texts and their arrangement represent another important constituent.

The principled collection of texts in the form of a corpus has to have a number of specific characteristics, which would make a corpus not merely a tool but a concept in discourse analysis. According to Busse et al. (1994, p.14) texts that make up a corpus representing a segment of discourse have the following features: they deal with a particular theme, object, knowledge complex or concept; they are interconnected in accordance with the specific purpose of the communication; they are defined by specific parameters such as time period, area, segment of society or text type; and, essentially, they are characterised by implicit or explicit textual or semantic (contextual) connections which makes a corpus an intertextual entity. It seems to me that another essential characteristic of such a corpus is the chronological arrangement and full documentation of texts. Only then we can be sure that such a corpus will enable the analyst to investigate into the socio-historical aspects of meaning production in discourse.

The principled collection of data can contribute to the problem of the replicability of the analysis, which is an important issue in the qualitative studies of discourse. The strict “objectivity” can never be achieved by means of discourse analysis as it inevitably embeds beliefs and ideologies of the analysts. However, it is possible to make the analysis replicable through detailing the analytical steps taken and making the data available. Corpora as well as the software used in the investigation are normally accessible to anyone who wishes to carry out his/her own investigation.

Considering the predominance of (internal) content criteria (such as common topic and intertextual links) over external objective parameters (e.g. date) in the corpus make up the descriptive frames of the corpus-driven approach differ from traditional linguistic approaches. Discourse in such an approach is less defined by objective parameters of time and space, but rather intentionally defined by its content. Therefore, whereas descriptive linguistics takes its analytical categories externally out of the formal relationships between linguistic entities in texts under investigation (for example, from a collection of texts that belong to some time period) and then makes explicit formal connections (what makes us say that these texts belong to standard English or a variety of English), the approach to discourse in a “socio-historically” oriented corpus-linguistic study would be focused on the internal content-driven connections between texts, i.e. what makes these texts belong to the discourse of, for example, British left wing press.

The analysis of paraphrases (seen as “metalinguistic statements” that serve for explanation, explication or re-definition (Teubert, 2005)) within a corpus that represents a segment of discourse can complement the hermeneutic endeavours of discourse analysts interested in how utterances came to be made and how their production was constrained. As pointed out by Pecheux (1982) paraphrases play a crucial role in the process of meaning construction in discourse. In a corpus that represents a segment of discourse they indicate various links that connect text segments, and are easily identifiable with the help of the search tools available through most corpus linguistic software . The study of paraphrases in such a corpus thus allows a detailed and documented diachronic analysis of intertextual links that uniquely characterise any text segment in the focus of analysis.

From the point of French discourse analysis meaning is always a result of the hegemonic struggle. The automatic searches for paraphrase of the lexical item can also help tracing various and often contrasting definitions given to a word that circulates in general discourse and in this way revealing possible sites of conflict. From this perspective, the interpretation of meaning in terms of paraphrases supplied by members of contending discourse communities will bring us closer to historically situated discourse analysis, as well as enable the documented analysis of meaning change.

4. Conclusions
The discussion of theoretical points undertaken in this article was intended to demonstrate how corpus linguistics can be a useful framework for the study of meaning in discourse. Although corpus linguistics has a lot to offer for the synchronic investigation of meaning in terms of frequency information for words, phrases, or constructions used in discourse, a particular focus of this paper has been to discuss how it can also be an important framework for the study of the unstable and disputed nature of meaning.

The theoretical framework for reading and interpreting texts and text segments in their interdiscursive conditions of emergence established on the basis of the works of Foucault and Pecheux enables the analyst to study meanings of lexical items through their paraphrases in different discourses. In order to be able to analyse discourse in Foucauldian sense from the linguistic perspective we need to have recourse to texts produced within the community of speakers, delimited according to our research purposes. In this paper I discussed how corpora compiled according to a set of pre-determined criteria (such as, for example, content-driven connections between texts and chronological arrangement of texts) offer the means to study the emergence of meanings of lexical items within discourse communities in question. It is in this way that the principled collection and detailed documentation of texts in corpus linguistics allows gaining empirical evidence for assertions made in the CDA context and complements its qualitative analysis by strengthening the interpretative basis.

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On the Nature and Role of English in Asia https://www.linguistics-journal.com/2014/01/09/on-the-nature-and-role-of-english-in-asia/ Thu, 09 Jan 2014 02:25:36 +0000 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/www2/2014/01/09/on-the-nature-and-role-of-english-in-asia/ June 2006 home PDF version |

January 2006. Volume 2

On the Nature and Role of English in Asia

Z.N. Patil

Bio Data
PATIL Zumbarlal Namdeorao is a Professor of English in the Centre for Training and Development, School of English Language Education of the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad, India. Besides teaching English for specific and practical purposes, he organizes consultancy workshops for government and private firms in India. He taught English to pre-service diplomats and in-service seaport officers in Vietnam from 1999 to 2002 and served as Senior English Language Adviser in Japan from 2003 to 2006. His major publications include Style in Indian English Fiction: A study in politeness strategies (New Delhi: Prestige Publishers, 1994) and Spoken English for Vietnamese Learners (Hanoi: The World Publishers, 2002). He is associated with online “Asian EFL Journal” (Associate Editor), “Asian Business Journal” (Senior Editor), “The Linguistics Journal” (Senior Associate Editor), “TESOL Law Journal” (Region Advisor) and “Journal of Research Practice” (Reviewer).


The present paper is divided into eight sections: introduction, the global diffusion of English, perceptions of the new varieties, the issue of intelligibility, features that cause unintelligibility, need for a broader pragmatics, and pedagogical implications, and conclusion, followed by the references. Not surprisingly, the global spread of English has generated varying perspectives on the nature and functions of its acculturated varieties. Broadly speaking, the debate has divided scholars into two camps holding diametrically opposing views on the multiple versions of English. On the one hand, some scholars view variations as symptoms of linguistic degeneration and deterioration; on the other hand, some scholars legitimize them as inevitable manifestations necessitated by the demands of the new cultural contexts. The normative view of the former camp stems, at least partly, from the problems the new forms of English pose in terms of international intelligibility. It is in this context that the paper examines the traditional, one-sided, native speaker-centred idea of intelligibility and the recent two-sided view of intelligibility that places the onus on both the native speaker and the non-native speaker. The argument of the latter camp is based on the premise that the new varieties require a broader pragmatic framework, because universal pragmatics is inadequate to describe them satisfactorily. Thus, the camp advocates a need for a language-specific pragmatics, and a comparative pragmatics, in addition to the traditional universal pragmatics. Logically, the debate on phonological, lexical, grammatical, and discourse structure variations, and their legitimacy has prompted English language teaching specialists to have a fresh look at the goals and objectives of teaching English in the countries of the outer and expanding circles, and accordingly prioritize the teaching of national and regional varieties over that of the so-called native varieties. Thus, the paradigms of independence and centrality of the new varieties are replacing the paradigms of their dependence and marginality.

Keywords: native, non-native, indigenization, intelligibility, new pragmatics.

The present paper aims at presenting a panoramic view of the nature and role of English in Asia. The Asianization of English is discussed against the backdrop of Kachru’s (1986) division of English into three concentric circles: the inner circle where English is a native language, the outer circle where it is a second language, and the expanding circle where it is a foreign language. Let me note that I am aware of the drawbacks of Kachru’s three-circle model. For example, (1) it fails to differentiate varieties within each circle; (2) it assumes that the three circles represent linguistic reality perfectly; (3) it implies that the outer circle cannot merge into the inner circle; (4) it bases the classification on national identity; and (5) it assumes that the inner circle varieties are somehow superior to other varieties. However, I do not intend to discuss the merits and demerits of this model. Such and other shortcomings of the model have already been pointed out by several scholars such as Tripathi (1998), Yano (2001), and Brutt-Griffler and Samimy (2001). Neither do I intend to elaborate on the alternative models such as McArthur’s (1998) circle of world Englishes, Gorlach’s (1988) circle model of English (reproduced in McArthur 1998), and Yoneoka’s (2000) umbrella paradigm. Nevertheless, I suppose the present paper can be better understood with the three-circle model in the background.

The Global Diffusion of English
The spread and indigenization of the English language has been the topic of several conferences and seminars in recent times. Undoubtedly, the “glossography” of English in the present world is both qualitatively and quantitatively unprecedented (Nayar, 1994). It is common knowledge that English first spread to Scotland, Wales and Ireland; then to North America, Canada and South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. However, the spread of English to these countries is not my concern in this paper. My focus is on the spread of the English language to countries that fall within the outer and expanding circles and resultant changes in the language at phonological, lexical, grammatical, and discourse levels.

Linguists had predicted this phenomenal diffusion and adaptation of English nearly a half century ago. For example, Halliday, MacIntosh and Strevens (1964) and Greenberg (1966) cited in Norrish (1997) had anticipated two changes. First, the ownership of the so-called native English countries and native English speakers would come to an end. Secondly, English would diversify, and consequently local varieties of the language would develop. To use Thumboo’s (2001) words, the language would set into new habitations, and re-orientate itself to serve other cultures and, as a result, would acquire new names such as Indian English, Filipino English, South African English, and so on.

Obviously, the forecast has come true and the new varieties require fresh terms to designate the processes that characterize them. Therefore, it is no wonder that critical literature (e. g. Kachru 1983; Pandharipande, 1987; Phillipson, 1992; Crystal, 1997; Pennycook, 1997; Annamalai, 2004; Phan Le Ha, 2005) is replete with a whole bunch of expressions to describe the diffusion and nativization of English: pluralization, diversification, globalization, internationalization, universalization; hybridization, localization, indigenization; decolonization, dehegemonization, liberation of the English language, and so on. In this regard, it is worth considering the questions Horibe (2000) and McArthur (2004) respectively raise: “Is English Cinderella, a kidnapped or adopted child, or Godzilla?” and “Is it world English or international English or global English, and does it matter?” Obviously, none of the labels listed above is wholly satisfactory and neutral. Each nomenclature has its limitations and its specific value, and serves a chosen purpose. Different scholars select different designations to support the perspective they adopt. Each label promotes its own construct, clusters of presuppositions, concepts and approaches that often determine the direction and type of exploration and conclusion. These nomenclatures mould our perceptions and generate world-views and images. Some of these labels connote a patronizing attitude and suggest a mono-centric approach, whereas others imply liberation from bondage and indicate a pluralistic approach. Strong compulsions have motivated scholars to rename the language. Two such compulsions are a need to respond to the postcolonial ambiguity about the globalization of English and a desire to shape a new pedagogical ideology (see Erling 2005).

In addition to the above terms, people describe the multiple new varieties of English as manifestations of a transplanted, indigenized, reincarnated language. In the present paper I call them “twice born varieties”, because the language was transported from its native soil (the U.K.), transplanted into an alien soil (India, for example), and indigenized to perform culture-specific functions. Thus, English is a twice born language in the socio-cultural contexts that fall outside the inner circle. Such a language is reborn in the sense that it takes on new forms and functions to carry the weight of new cultural experiences. These so-called non-native varieties of English are characterized with socio-linguistic and pragmatic transfer. That is to say, the so-called non-native speakers and writers transfer to English the rules of use and usage from their own speech communities. Scholars (e.g., Pandharipande 1987, p.155) have classified such transfers into two categories: unintentional and intentional. Thus, on the one hand, we have ESL/EFL learners who unconsciously transfer the rules and norms of use from their mother tongue and apply them to the other tongue. On the other hand, creative writers like India’s Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, and Khushwant Singh, and Nigeria’s Achebe and Ojaide consciously deviate from the norms of the so-called native varieties of English. Thus, the adoption of English for literary writing is another instance of nativization, which extends the process to expressive domains (Annamalai, 2004). The new users of English exploit the protein potential of English to satisfy their communicative needs. The creative users of English possess it, make it their own, bend it to their will, and assert themselves through it rather than submit to the dictates of its norms. They borrow it, and recreate, stretch, extend, contort, and indigenize it (D’Souza, 2001, p.150).

Needless to say, these linguistic changes are beyond the control of the linguist and the language planner. When English migrates to foreign countries, it diffuses and internationalizes, acculturates and indigenizes, and adapts and diversifies (Honna, 2003). The new users absorb, re-orient, appropriate and transform it. They liberate it to embody the energies of their respective sensibilities. The linguistic, social and cultural contexts of Asia and Africa necessitate, initiate and propel the development of new varieties of English. Evidently, these speech communities share the medium, but not the messages. The various reincarnations of English share the medium but use it to express native and local messages. The different dialects of English serve as acts of identity. In this view, English is no longer a Western language with Western canonicity (Kachru, cited in Prendergast 1998). The major varieties of English in Asia and Africa have broken the umbilical ties with the language. Thus there is a need to redefine terms such as “speech community”, “native speaker”, “norm” and “standard” (Kachru, cited in Prendergast 1998) and to question the concept of “native speaker” (Gupta 1999, p.59).

A logical parallel of the above deconstruction of the native variety myth is the justification of the hybridization of the language by non-native creative writers. It would be in the fitness of things to note how some African and Asian creative writers perceive the adoption of English for literary creativity.

The Nigerian writer Achebe (1965, p. 29) feels that it is neither necessary nor desirable for him to use English like a native writer does. He (1975, p. 62) wants the English language to carry the weight of his African experience. Obviously, the native variety in its unchanged form is incapable of serving that purpose. To achieve that objective, it will have to be a new English, still in communion with its ‘ancestral home’ but altered to suit its new African surroundings. Ojaide (1987, pp. 165-167), another Nigerian writer, professes that the English that he writes and speaks is neither mainstream British nor American, and he cherishes this uniqueness. The sensibility that he expresses is African sensibility, which is different from Western and Asian sensibilities, though a little closer to the Asian sensibility. His writing, though in English, has its roots in Africa, not in England or North America. Being a cultural standard bearer of the African world, not of the British or Western world, he is free to manipulate English to his advantage. Soyinka (1993, p. 88) regards native English as a linguistic blade in the hands of the traditional cultural castrator, which black people have twisted to carve new concepts into the flesh of white supremacy. Sidhwa (2000), cited in Yoneoka (2002), sounds a similar note when he remarks, “the colonized have subjugated the English language, beaten it on its head and made it theirs, and in adapting it to their use, in hammering it sometimes on its head and sometimes twisting its tail, they have given it a new shape, substance and dimension”.

Raja Rao (1938) echoes the views voiced by Achebe, Ojaide, and Soyinka. In the foreword to Kanthapura he admits that “a language that is not one’s own” is inadequate to express “the spirit that is one’s own”. He confesses that the various shades and omissions of certain thought-movement look maltreated in a foreign language. Perhaps it is because of this inadequacy that Dasgupta (1993, p. 201) labels English as an alien language, an aunt, not a mother. His contention is that even if Indians have been using and exploiting English, it has not got close to their hearts. It is not one of them although it is an important presence to be respected. Kourtizin (2000), cited in Lee (2005), holds a similar view of Japanese, which is not his first language: “English is the language of my heart, the one in which I can easily express love for my children; in which I know instinctively how to coo to a baby; in which I can sing lullabies, tell stories, recite nursery rhymes, talk baby talk. In Japanese, there is some artificiality about my love; I cannot express it naturally or easily. The emotions I feel do not translate well into the Japanese language, …”

It is this inadequacy of the other tongue that prompts Raja Rao to use the English language innovatively to make it approximate the Kannada rhythm. In keeping with his theme in Kanthapura he experiments with the language following the oral rhythms and narrative techniques of traditional models of writing. He breaks the formal English syntax to express the emotional upheaval that shook the village of Kanthapura. The author’s foreword to the novel almost spells out the postcolonial cultural agenda: “The telling has not been easy…. We cannot write like the English. We should not. We can write only as Indians. We have grown to look at the large world as part of us. Our method of expression therefore has to be a dialect, which will some day prove to be as distinctive and colourful as the Irish or the American. Time alone will justify it.”

And this seems to be true of all non-native varieties. All non-native writers of English literature write with an accent, as it were, because they have to carry the weight of different experiences in various surroundings. I agree with Nelson (1985, p. 245) who observes, “When one reads a non-native variety text or listens to a non-native discourse, it becomes clear that there are devices and elements that are not the same as those in a native variety text or discourse. From the level of vocabulary to that of stylistic features, discourse arrangement and speech functions, the text or discourse is “marked” as “non-native”.

Perceptions of the New Varieties
I do not think any other language has earned so many descriptive labels as English has. It has acquired many names (Erling, 2005) because it has many accents (Wells, 1982). As I have said earlier in this paper, each designation carries a load of signification and value. For example, the term “Englishes” assumes that the language is not a monolith, but a group of varieties that are similar and different at the same time. Each nomenclature carries various perspectives: linguistic, cultural, and ideological (Prendergast, 1998). On the one hand, when we adopt a descriptive point of view, we imply that all the varieties have an equal status; on the other hand, when we choose a prescriptive approach, we connote some sort of hierarchy. Like Phillipson (1992), Kachru (1998), cited in Prendergast (1998), feels that the second attitude suggests a kind of linguistic imperialism. He thinks that English language teaching has not yet got rid of the dominant colonialist culture, which has generated paradigms of dependence and marginality. He cites the “English conversation ideology” in Japan as an alarming example of colonial hangover. In his opinion, the Japanese idea of English conversation has two functions. First, it accords a high status to Western culture — especially US culture. Secondly, it endorses the Western ownership of the English language.

The hegemony of native varieties of English finds nourishment from two sources: the mechanisms created by the West, and the self-nullifying attitude of the non-native speakers toward their own varieties. Native speakers have created certain mechanisms to perpetuate the dominance of native varieties. We can cite the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (Jet Program) as one of the strategies employed by some “inner circle” governments and their private agencies. The traditional owners of English manage to continue the empowerment of the native speaker model and the native English model through what Nayar (1994) terms as “quasi-diplomatic organizations like the British Council and the USIA” and through what Kachru (1996) calls indirect and subtle “arms of codification” such as dictionaries, lexical manuals, pedagogic resources, media agencies, elite power groups, which generate language attitudes and psychological pressure, and instruments of evaluation. Talking about the instruments of language assessment, Pennycook (1997) remarks that the forms and processes of accreditation, the exams and tests of English carry a huge institutionalized cultural and economic capital, because a small difference on TOEFL can have tremendous implications for employment, study overseas, and so on. The native speaker teacher who is an ambassador of Nayar’s (1994) “linguistic elitism” and Phillipson’s (1992) “linguistic imperialism” is yet another mechanism created to perpetuate the native English myth. The dominance of the English of the “inner circle” countries is further consolidated through the discourse of ELT, which is a subtle form of advertising and selling their English (see Pegrum, 2004).

Undoubtedly, the native speaker has been slow in recognizing and accepting non-native varieties of English due to their deviant phonological, lexical, grammatical, and discourse forms (Kachru, 1982, p.43). Cultural and linguistic ethnocentrism has led to the description of these varieties as deficient. Thus, when people compare native norms with the norms of other speakers of English, they usually vote in favour of the former. Scholars such as Phan Le Ha (2005, p. 34) maintain that although native speakers seem to celebrate the global spread of English, they seem to oppose the initiatives to integrate and equate non-native varieties with native varieties. Nevertheless, the above viewpoint is just one side of the coin.

In my view, non-native speakers themselves are to blame, at least partly, because they help perpetuate the hegemony. In fact, quite often it is the case that native speakers are more tolerant of variations and deviations (surprisingly, some scholars, e.g. Bobda 2004, interpret this tolerance as a subtle way to perpetuate and promote linguistic apartheid) than non-native speakers are. Native speakers such as Crystal (2005) have spent their lives attacking language purists many of whom come from non-native backgrounds. Let me elaborate on this issue at some length. For example, most educational institutions all over Asia support the perpetuation of the dominant British or American form of English, thereby implying that their own varieties are “impure”, “imperfect” or “substandard”. A cursory glance at most English language teaching job advertisements (especially in the Middle East and Japan) will testify to this observation. Let me draw your attention to the two important qualifications these advertisements demand. First, the prospective candidate should be a native speaker of English. Secondly, the applicant should have a diploma or degree from Britain, United States, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. This means that many Asian employers still look at their own varieties through the glasses of British or American English and think of them as substandard, deficient, and inferior varieties. Moreover, it is an impression still fostered by the examining boards, which dominate teachers’ mindsets.

To cap it all, dispassionate observers of language also assist in maintaining the hegemony. I agree with Crystal (1999) that even linguists complain about various usages they do not like. Some onus lies with teachers too. Unfortunately, many Asian teachers of English are pedagogical schizophrenics: they themselves speak their own varieties (Indian, Japanese, etc.) of English, but unrealistically expect their students to speak American or British varieties of English. Kandiah (1991), cited in Yoneoka (2002), points out that attitudes among South Asian speakers to their own forms of English have always been self-annulling. For example, nearly sixty years after independence, Indian English finds it difficult to free itself from the weight of “Received Pronunciation”. Chaudhary (1998) rightly observes that the ability to write by the rules of Wren and Martin, and Nesfield and speak by the norms of Daniel Jones is an essential qualification for a good job in India. Many teachers believe that they speak Queen’s English or BBC English. In fact, they seem to be taking pride in this belief. I do not think teachers from other Asian countries are different. Honna and Takeshita (1998) observe that although the stigmatized view of non-native varieties is diminishing, most Japanese teachers and students equate the English language with American English and look down upon their own variety and other non-native varieties just because they differ from American variety. To cut the long story short, the dominant attitude among Asian public in general and in Asian academic world in particular is that American and British people are the owners of the English language and that their varieties are better than Asian varieties.

A corollary of this negative attitude towards non-native varieties is a similar self-abnegating perception of creative writing in English. To cite just one case, Indian writing in English has aroused diametrically opposing attitudes and approaches. Nemade (1985, p. 31) discusses it as a rootless phenomenon. He argues that it will never receive international readership because it falls short of magnificence. Criticizing it as a “parrotry” (p.33) and “mimicry” (p.36) and describing the foreign medium as “suppressive” (p.33) of the natural talent in the Indian writer, he prophesies that no Indian writer in English can ever enjoy the position of eminence because his writings lack national culture and national language. Nemade’s viewpoint finds support in Patke’s (1986) review of Jussawalla’s “Family Quarrels: Towards a criticism of Indian writing in English” in which he is little optimistic about the Indian writer’s global recognition because English is not the language of his intellectual and emotional make-up. These critics whose views demonstrate lack of solidarity and loyalty toward their own variety maintain that Indian writers can produce works of first order only in their mother tongues. They hold the view that Indian literature in English is “parasitic” and hence can never reach the excellence of vernacular or regional literatures. Patke (1986, p. 317), although hopeful of finding a good Indian writer in English, argues that the Indian writer in English has no tradition and heritage of the English language, either diachronic or synchronic, to manipulate, and therefore his literary style remains rootless.

Incidentally, the above objections could be easily refuted. First, it should be remembered that English was and is used for national integration in countries like India. Secondly, the classics of Joseph Conrad (who felt that if he had not written in English, he would not have written at all), Samuel Beckett, and Vladimir Nabokov testify to the fact that a non-native writer can write in English as efficiently and effectively as a native writer.

However, a sympathetic and understanding attitude to Indian English and Indian English literature has developed over the years. The world wars led to cultural and linguistic tolerance. People began to accept and recognize new varieties of English and new literatures in English as vital contributions to the mainstream of English language and literature. Kandiah (1991), cited in Yoneoka (2002), feels that speakers of Indian English are now gradually coming to accept their usage as more respectable. Xiaoqiong’s (2005) and Jin’s (2005) research corroborates this optimism. Xiaoqiong’s investigation into Chinese English teachers’ attitudes to both the internationally coveted varieties and Chinese English reveals that majority of Chinese teachers think that China English will eventually become a standard variety. Similarly, Jin’s inquiry into Chinese undergraduates’ preferences shows that Chinese English as a standard variety will stand alongside American English, which is a current national favourite.

This trend is due at least partly to efforts of academics and writers to promote Indian English as a valid and legitimate variety. Walsh (1973a, p. ix) describes Indian literature in English as having a past, a present, and a promising future, and he (1973b, pp. v, 1-27) acknowledges the contribution of Mulk Raj Anand and R. K. Narayan as “significant”. Iyengar (1983, p. 3) calls Indian English literature “one of the voices in which India sings”. For example, in recent years some Indian authors in English have found a place among the best authors in English (King 1980, p. ix). This recognition was anticipated by some of the literary and critical prophets like Jean Rhys, Claude McKay, Henry Handel Richardson, and Katherine Mansfield (King 1980, p. x). The large number of critical articles and journals on Indian literature in English is another proof that it is “an independent entity deserving serious critical attention” and not a “sporadic, adventitious, abnormal or invalid” phenomenon (Chindhade, 1983, p. 251).

In short, the incredibly galloping spread of English and its new social, cultural and literary functions have led to two major developments. First, using international academic events and journals, scholars have challenged the hegemony of the so-called native speakers of English, and questioned the supremacy of the native varieties. Secondly, they have attempted to legitimize the new varieties and new literatures in English. Their argument is based on the premise that once a language comes to be so wide spread it ceases to have a single linguistic superpower. Though these shifts in perception are not as earthshaking as Darwin’s seminal work on evolution, they have resulted into democratization and equalization of the different varieties of English, and have significant repercussions for language acquisition, multilingualism, instructional materials, language teaching and testing, and so on.

The Issue of Intelligibility
Smith and Nelson (1985), cited in Taylor (2003), distinguish between intelligibility, comprehensibility, and interpretability. For them intelligibility has to do with word or utterance recognition, comprehensibility with word or utterance meaning, and interpretability with illocutionary force.

This section examines the relevance of the construct of speech intelligibility in the light of two presuppositions. First, “familiar social context, shared cultural background or schematic knowledge, and insider awareness of linguistic norms”, “a willing ear” (Nair-Venugopal, 2003), and paralinguistic and nonverbal features such as intonation, facial expressions, eye contact, physical touch, social distance, posture and gesture (see Miller, 1981 and Pennycook, 1985, cited in Brown 1989) can facilitate intelligibility. Secondly, intelligibility is not a matter of “either or”. In other words, it is not speaker-centred or listener-centred; it is interactional (Smith and Nelson, 1985, p. 333). Non-native speakers have to be intelligible to native speakers; conversely, native speakers need to be intelligible to non-native speakers. In this context, let me mention the decision taken by the civil aviation authorities of India (The Times of India, February 10, 2006). According to this mandate, all expatriate pilots will have to pass a spoken English test, because as the source says, “We do not want to face a situation where these foreign pilots are not able to converse with the ATCs- Air Traffic Controllers. This can cause serious problems.” This resolution comes years after a worst mid-air collision between a Saudi Arabian Airliner jet and a Kazhakstan cargo plane, caused by a pilot’s poor understanding of English. As Toolan (1997) suggests, L1 and L2 speakers of English accommodate to one another’s use of the language and share responsibility for intercultural communication. By the same token, the negotiation of meaning between non-native speakers of English with different linguistic backgrounds stresses the “cooperative nature of lingua franca communication” (Meierkord 1998). These assumptions will underpin our discussion of the issue of intelligibility of English as a global language.

Crystal (1997, p. 2) characterizes a global language as follows: “A language achieves a genuinely global status when it develops a special role that is recognized in every country.” As Graddol (1997, p. 56) points out, English has two main functions in the world: it provides a vehicular language for international communication, and it forms the basis for constructing identities. The former function requires mutual intelligibility and common standards; the latter encourages the development of local forms and hybrid varieties. Given the forecast that English will remain a global language for several decades to come, we may then ask the question “How will English change its form and role as an international link language?” Yano (2001), cited in Yoneoka (2002), predicts three possible outcomes for the future of English as a global language: (i) Acrolect-level local varieties of English may come into existence. (ii) English may diverge into many mutually unintelligible local varieties. (iii) It may diversify into a variety of mutually intelligible dialects except in writing. The first of these outcomes seems to be coming true. Attempts to codify the varieties have accorded them acceptance and prestige. We no longer subscribe to the rigid distinction between “native” and “non-native”, and we look at the varieties in the spirit of equality and shared communicative responsibility. In fact, with the diversification of English, we are talking about training the native speaker to develop sensitivity towards intercultural communication.

Cathford (1950), cited in Nair-Venugopal (2003), states that intelligibility depends on its realization of at least four out of five aspects: selection, execution, transmission, identification, and interpretation with an elaboration-effectiveness-which depends on the hearer’s response matching the speaker’s intent of purpose. As Jandt (2001, p. 29) puts it, the components of communication are source, encoding, message, channel, noise, receiver, decoding, receiver response, feedback and context. When receivers fail to decode a message, communication stops and responses can be quite diversified.

Most of the work done so far discusses intelligibility with reference to native speakers. As a result, non-native learners and speakers are supposed to emulate the native speaker model (Taylor, 2003), because the native speaker is believed to be the sole owner of English. Hence it is the responsibility of the non-native speaker to work towards the native model (Smith 1987, p. xi). Scholars like Bansal (1969) held a one-sided perspective and thought of intelligibility with reference to external norms. They maintained that the non-native varieties of English were not only different but also deficient and unintelligible. They took British and American varieties as standard, correct, prestigious, and intelligible and suggested non-native speakers of English emulate them. However, if English no longer belongs to the native speaker and the native speaker is no longer involved in many English transactions, perhaps this is no longer appropriate. As Nihalani (2000, p. 108) states, “The typical approach in this tradition is to use the native accent selected for comparison as a template, juxtapose it against a non-native accent, and identify the features that do not fit the template.” This outlook has two implications. First, the non-native speaker should make effort to approximate the external norm set by the so-called standard variety to understand the native speaker and to be intelligible to him/her. Secondly, the native speaker is free from this responsibility. Thus, only one participant is obliged to make effort because s/he speaks a deviant variety.

The legitimization of new varieties of English has moved the debate on the issue of intelligibility from the one-sided position to a two-sided perspective. The latter perspective looks at communication between speakers of different varieties as a shared activity, a common pursuit to achieve mutual intelligibility. The central argument is that users of English as a lingua franca in international contexts should not look to native speakers of English for norms but should aim for mutual intelligibility among themselves (Jenkins 2000). It is in this context that McKay (2002) talks about standards for English as an international language with reference to intelligibility and examines the lexical, grammatical, and phonological features of varieties of English. As Seidlhofer (2003) points out, a “general shift in curricular guidelines has taken place from ‘correctness’ to “appropriateness” and “intelligibility”, but by and large “intelligibility” is taken to mean being intelligible to native speakers, and being able to understand native speakers.”

Features That Cause Unintelligibility
Nihalani (1997) states, “Two foreigners of the same nationality can converse with mutual understanding in English using their own phonetic and phonological systems. They run a serious risk, however, of being quite unintelligible to a speaker of English from the outer or inner circle. The learner must therefore adopt certain basic features of English in his pronunciation if he is to acquire a linguistic tool of international use. It is commonplace knowledge that various native varieties of English differ from each other in major ways, as much, perhaps, as the non-native varieties differ from the native varieties. Nevertheless native speakers of English appear to be mutually intelligible to a degree that does not extend to the non-native varieties. Obviously, there are features that various native accents have in common, which facilitate their mutual intelligibility, and these features are not shared by non-native accents”. Incidentally, Nihalani’s observation stands the test of validity, although I find it difficult to fully agree with his view that two foreigners of the same nationality can communicate without any intelligibility problems. In this respect, Kenworthy (1987), cited in Walker (2001), proposes the idea of “comfortable intelligibility” as a realistic goal. We could take this criterion to mean minimum general intelligibility or “What all speakers of all varieties have in common, which enables them to communicate effectively with speakers of native and non-native varieties other than their own.”

This comfortable intelligibility is what Achebe (1965, p. 30) means when he says, “The African writer should aim to use English in a way that brings out his message best without altering the language to the extent that its value as a medium of international exchange will be lost. He should aim at fashioning out an English which is at once universal and able to carry his peculiar experience…. it will have to be anew English, still in full communion with its ancestral home, but altered to suit its new surroundings.”

Brown (1989) classifies language features as (i) features that cause unintelligibility to non-native listeners from the same speech community as the speaker (for example, a Malaysian finds another Malaysian difficult to understand); (ii) features, which make it difficult for native listeners of English to understand non-native speakers (for example, an American finds it hard to comprehend a Japanese speaker of English); and finally, (iii) features, which lead to loss of intelligibility to non-native listeners from other speech communities ( for example, a Chinese listener of English finds it difficult to understand a Japanese speaker of English). Brown’s second and third categories are similar to Melchers and Shaw’s (2003, cited in Nunn 2005, p. 70) international intelligibility and his first category resembles their national intelligibility.

Seidlhofer (2001), cited in Burt (2005), observes that quite often it is features which are regarded as the most typically English, such as the agreement between a third person singular subject and its verb, tags, phrasal verbs and idioms, which turn out to be non-essential for mutual understanding. In a subsequent publication, Seidlhofer (2001) observes that certain traditionally serious errors do not hinder English as a lingua franca communication. According to Seidlhofer, these typical errors include (i) dropping the third person present tense -s, (ii) confusing the relative pronouns “who” and “which”, (iii) omitting articles where they are obligatory in native English language, and inserting them where they do not occur in English as a native language, (iv) failing to use correct forms in tag questions, e.g., “isn’t it?” or “no?” instead of the ones used in standard British and American English, (v) inserting redundant prepositions, as in “we have to study about…”, “we have to discuss about…” (vi) overusing verbs of high semantic generality , such as “do”, “have”, “make”, “put” and “take”, (vii) replacing infinitive constructions with “that clause” as in “I want that…”, (vii) overdoing explicitness, e.g., “black colour”, and “dead body” rather than just “black” and “body”. We may add several other features of Indian, Vietnamese, and Japanese varieties of English that do not cause unintelligibility. Such features are generally unproblematic and are no obstacle to communicative success.

As an alternative to inclusive and exclusive notions such as “native” and “non-native”, Melchers and Shaw (2003), cited in Nunn (2005, p. 70), suggest international intelligibility (for example, an Indian and a Korean communicating effortlessly with each other), national intelligibility (for example, a Kashmiri and a Tamil interacting without any problem) and local intelligibility (for example, two Japanese people from Okinawa island or from Kyoto city interacting smoothly). Someone who knows some English but cannot communicate in it internationally, nationally or locally is an ineffective user of the language.

However, inaccurate pronunciation that is clearly understandable is forgiven whereas pronunciation that is not understood is, and must necessarily be, perfected if the speakers wish to be understood and if the listeners wish to understand, as this is the fundamental rule of communication (Offner, 1995). Jenkins (2000) classifies the phonological features of EIL into core features and non-core features, essential in terms of intelligibility. According to her, divergences in the areas of vowel quality, weak forms, assimilation, and word stress from the native speaker realizations should be regarded as instances of acceptable L2 sociolinguistic variation. On the other hand, devoicing of consonants (“mug” pronounced as “muck”), omission of consonants from clusters (“six” pronounced as “sick”)’, confusion between short and long vowels (confusion between “ship” and “sheep”), substitution of the vowel as in “bird” especially with the vowel in “bard”, and substitution of consonants and vowels by other consonants and vowels (“TB” for “TV”; “snakes” for “snacks”; “hole” for “hall” respectively). In her opinion, it is these features that play a significant role in international intelligibility.

Poor articulation of words can also affect intelligibility. For example, most Vietnamese and Japanese learners do not articulate words clearly. Vietnamese learners tend to drop word-final sounds. For instance, they will pronounce the italicized words in the following sentence almost identically, as if they were homophones:

“Mr. Nguyen, why (/wai/) doesn’t your wife (/wai/) try white (/wai/) wine (/wai/)?”

Whereas omission is a major problem with Vietnamese learners, substitution is a big problem with Japanese learners (Patil, 2005, p. 7). For instance, there is a strong tendency among Japanese learners to replace /r/ with /l/ and /v/ with /b/. As a result, it is very difficult to distinguish between “This is a grass house.” and “This is a glass house.” An Arab learner’s problems are substitution and insertion of extra sounds. So, “pill” is articulated as “bill” and “text” is pronounced as “tekist”. The pronunciation problems of the three groups of learners can be summarily illustrated with the help of the following single example:

“I’m going to dine with six friends. We’ll have a pot of fried rice each.”

An Arab learner will most probably say:
“I’m going to dine with sikis friends. We’ll have a boat of rice each.”

A Vietnamese learner will tend to say:
“I’m going to die with sick friends. We’ll have a pot of rice each.”

A Japanese learner will likely say:
“I’m going to dine with six hriends. We’ll have a pot of flied lice each.”

Another area is vocabulary. One case in point is the use of “come” and “go” in Vietnamese variety of English. In standard variety of English, “go” means moving to a place that is far from the speaker and the listener and “come” means moving to a place that is nearer to the hearer. For example, a student may say to his teacher: “May I come in, Sir?” and “Sir, may I go home now?” In the first case, the student is moving nearer to the teacher; in the second case, the student wants to move away from the teacher. This is the normal use in English. But, in Vietnamese variety of English, the use is reversed. The student usually says to the teacher who is in school with him.” Excuse me, Sir, May I come back home now? And yes, I cannot go to school tomorrow.” (Patil, 2002, pp.14-16). Japanese speakers of English also tend to use these two verbs with reverse meanings.

Let us look at one more example. Along the lines of the words “come” and “go”, Vietnamese students use the words “bring” and “take” in a reverse way. In British English when I bring something I carry it from another place to the place where the hearer is. Similarly, when I take something, I take it from where the hearer and I are to another place. But Vietnamese students use the two words in an opposite way. As a teacher I often heard my students say: “Excuse me, teacher, I don’t have this book at home. Can I bring it for a week, please?” and “I’m sorry, teacher, I forgot to take the book that I brought from you last week. I’ll take it tomorrow.” Now, the important point here is: how do these readers interpret “come” and “go” and “bring” and “take” when they encounter them in a reading passage? Do they interpret them the English way or the Vietnamese way? My experience is that elementary and intermediate level Vietnamese learners of English interpret these words the Vietnamese way. They need to be told time and again that the usual meanings of “come” and “go” and “bring” and “take” are different.

Let us move on to grammar now. Here, mother tongue interference seems to be a major stumbling block. For example, Arabic does not have copula verb and so many Arab learners of English produce utterances such as “I student of Sultan Qaboos University Language Centre.” Vietnamese does not have relative pronouns; as a result, we hear sentences such as “There are many children don’t go to school.” Japanese word order is subject + object + verb, and nouns do not have plural forms; consequently, we hear utterances like “I vegetable bought.”

However, I think these grammar mistakes do not bother me so much as the pronunciation errors do. From the communication point of view it does not matter much whether the foreign language learner says, “I TV watch.” or “I watch TV”; “I have two book” or “I have two books.” “This is a girl beautiful.” or “This is a beautiful girl.” Communication is not affected in any serious way. But, there is certainly a communication problem when a Vietnamese learner wants to say he is going to dine, but says he is going to die; a Japanese learner wants to say he has got just two books, but says he has got just two bucks, and an Arab learner wants to say he bought a pear but says he bought a bear.

Need for a New Pragmatics
Levinson (1983) refers to (i) a universal pragmatics and (ii) a language-specific pragmatics. Thumboo (1994) suggests that there is a room for a varieties-specific or variety-specific pragmatics, and (iv) a comparative pragmatics. The varieties of English, and the literatures in them, pose problems and challenges, and offer opportunities for pragmatics. Their settings are so different that it is a daunting task to deal with them. Almost all these varieties are invariably part of a bilingual or multilingual setting. Many of them have not been analyzed yet. We need to describe their grammar, lexicon, syntax and phonology. Obviously, doing that is much easier than developing a pragmatics of each one of these varieties. Needless to say, the pragmatics of the native varieties cannot adequately describe the new varieties. As Thumboo (1991) remarks, they require a much broader pragmatics. It would be fallacious to apply one language-pragmatics, based on one semiotic. The differences in usage between varieties such as Filipino English and British English are more glaring than those between British and American English. As the new varieties grow, the existing paradigms become inadequate. Hence it would not be very fruitful to apply the pragmatics of English to all varieties of the language across the world.

Thus we need to develop a pragmatics of Indian English, Japanese English, Filipino English, Vietnamese English, and so on. Then, we can compare how, for example, politeness strategies, speech acts, and the maxims of conversational cooperation operate in the different varieties. These are tall orders. These are long journeys. Some scholars (Kachru, 1983, 1986, 1998, 2004; Platt, et al. 1984; Parasher, 1991; Gorlach, 1991, 1995, 1998; Dasgupta, 1993; Greenbaum, 1996; Mehrotra, 1998; McArthur, 1998; Enokizono, 2000; Thumboo, 2001; Bolton, 2002; Jenkins, 2003; Stanlaw, 2004; Melchers and Shaw, 2003; Robertson, et al. 2005) have travelled a few miles. I have travelled a few steps in this direction (Patil, 1989a, 1989b, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005a, 2005b). The woods are lovely, dark and deep, and we have thousands of miles to go before we fully explore the pragmatic avenues.

Speech functions, which are specific to speech communities, are a prime area of study for pragmatics. The various speech acts such as apologizing, inviting, requesting, and so on, derive their uniqueness from the socio-cultural norms of the people participating in interaction (Kachru, 1996, p. 127). There are important cross-cultural differences in the way speech acts are performed. Different cultures have different ways of doing things with words. Asians, for example, have their own ways of saying and meaning things in English. Ma (1996, p. 257) cites an interesting observation: a General Motors manager once expressed his frustration in these words: “I don’t understand you Asians. You say “no” when you are supposed to say “yes”, and say “yes” when you are supposed to say “no”.

There is no common ideal, no common criteria, of politeness for all societies and all languages. For example, the “power principle” operates differently in Europe and America than in Asia. Gumperz (1970, p. 20) illustrates how strategies such as complimenting differ from society to society. For instance, in American society compliments are very brief and concise whereas in Japanese culture complimenting is a prolonged activity involving several exchanges of praise and ritual denials. To a Japanese it seems impolite to accept a compliment with a mere thanks. This cultural difference between American brevity and Japanese prolixity might sometimes cause, to use Crystal and Davy’s (1969, p. 5) words, “general confusion, probably criticism and embarrassment as well”. Complimenting in Indian English differs from complimenting in British and American English. Unlike compliments in the two native varieties, compliments in Indian English are two-dimensional. The person who offers a compliment maximizes praise of the hearer and simultaneously maximizes dispraise of self or at least minimizes praise of self. Patil (1994) has dealt with some aspects of the pragmatics of Indian English.

Complimenting is a more prolific and prolonged act in Japanese than in many other languages. Another significant aspect of Japanese linguistic politeness is its indirectness. Japanese is an incredibly indirect language. Westerners, known as “straight-shooters”, “speak their minds”, “make things clear”; but this forthrightness is considered a bit rude in Japanese culture. The real art of Japanese communication lies in being subtle in just the right way. To be indirect is to be polite. People usually steer the conversation without being obvious about the topic of conversation. Requests are also often made indirectly. For example, “I would like to use the phone, but…” is preferred to “Can I use the phone?” another characteristic of Japanese conversation is avoidance of disagreement at all costs as group harmony is highly valued. It would be interesting to see how Japanese speakers of English iron out disagreements.

The gist of the preceding discussion is that theories of politeness, speech acts, and conversational cooperation should include socially conditioned aspects of language use and reflect cultural variability.

Pedagogical Implications
While talking about the teaching of English in Asia, we need to bear in mind the psychological and socio-cultural inclination of learners in most Asian countries such as Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, Korea and Japan who aspire to learn British and American varieties of English, because of the social status and prestige that accompanies their use. This inclination is in variance with the attitudes and perspectives that scholars in the field possess and profess. In fact, most of these countries have a policy statement, either explicit or implicit, admonishing teachers and learners to prefer British or American, preferably American variety, for the economic, political and international dominance the countries of the “inner circle” enjoy. Thus the issue is more complex than Honna and Takeshita (1998) and Honna (2003) have portrayed with reference to the situation in Japan. For example, Zhang’s (2005) study examines why Chinese teacher trainees endorse the British variety of English in preference to their own variety and discusses their choice of the native speaker phonological model with reference to the discourse on Phillipson’s (1992) “linguistic imperialism”.

This state of affairs needs to change and Asian users of English (teachers, learners, etc.) should accept the standard forms of their own varieties. As Llurda (2004, p. 319) remarks, non-native teachers of English need no longer be ambassadors of British or American cultures, values, ideologies, and social conventions. There is no need to impose a foreign model on our learners. Asian teachers of English can use their own respective standardized variety of English as a model for teaching and testing purposes. It is easy to do this, because (i) majority of us are local teachers, (ii) we are in influential, decision-making positions, and (iii) we are the ones who usually set examination papers and evaluate students’ answers.

Thus it is the regional variety of English, not an external model that needs to be promoted, because it is the former that people in the region will want to use. A vast majority of Asians, Africans and Europeans learn English to use it as a lingua franca. They do not learn it with the intention to communicate with native speakers but to communicate with other non-native speakers (Kirpatrick, 2004).

Let us examine Japan’s current English teaching goals against this background. As we know, Japanese educators intend to train learners to become speakers of American English. This is unrealistic and detrimental to the case of ELT, because as Abercrombie (1956), cited in Brown (1989), says, such a goal would be appropriate if we were teaching prospective secret agents and teachers. A vast majority needs to attain just comfortable intelligibility, which amounts to accent that people can understand with little or no conscious effort. I agree with Honna and Takeshita’s (1998) view that Japan’s unrealistic goal has resulted into negative attitude to non-native varieties of English, linguistic inferiority complex, slow learning pace, and high failure rate. Japanese students are scared of speaking, because they think they will be poor speakers unless they sound like Americans. To put it differently, their exocentric or exonormative approach embodies Kachru’s (1996) interlocutor myth, monoculture myth, and Cassandra myth, or Pennycook’s (1997) “arm of global imperialism” empowered with “symbolic capital”. However, if students were given a regional variety of English to learn, educated speakers of the standardized regional variety could provide the model (Kirpatrick 2004). Equally importantly, we need to replace the teaching materials imported from the West with materials that are culturally familiar to our learners. I agree with Alptekin (2002) who suggests that teachers of English as an international language should incorporate instructional materials and activities rooted in local as well as international contexts that are familiar and relevant to language learners’ lives.

According to Kachru (1992, p. 362) “What is needed is a shift of two types: a paradigm shift in research and training, and an understanding of the sociolinguistic reality of uses and users of English.” As Crystal (1999) observes, adopting a dynamic perspective is not just desirable; it is urgent. The reason is that the pace of linguistic change, at least for spoken English, is increasing. As more and more people around the world adopt English, an unprecedented range of varieties has emerged (chiefly since 1960s) to reflect new national identities. The differences between British and American English pronunciation, for example, are minor compared with those, which distinguish these dialects from the new intra-national norms of, say, Indian and West African English. English has gradually developed new local centres for authentication of its models and norms and has become a pluricentric language with Asian and African norms and models for its acquisition, its teaching, and creativity in the language (Kachru, 1996). Therefore, a valid goal would be to enable our students to view English as the multi-colored rainbow of possibilities that it actually is (Goddard, 2001).

For English to be international means that it has developed to where it is “no longer linked to a single culture or nation but serves both global and local needs as a language of wider communication.” (McKay, 2002, p. 24). Hence it is essential that the native speaker fallacy be challenged. As McKay (2002, p. 129) rightly points out, “the concept of thinking globally but acting locally is highly relevant to the teaching of EIL. The evidence clearly suggests that the use of EIL will continue to grow, as an international language that belongs, not just to native speakers, but also to all its users. Given this shift in ownership, the time has come for decisions regarding teaching goals and approaches to be given to local educators so they can take their rightful place as valid users of English.” As Offner (1995) points out, “One main incentive to learn a second or foreign language is to convey one’s own views as understood in one’s own culture, from one’s own background, and not to be transformed into a product of the foreign language and its culture.”

Several scholars have questioned the need for English in Asian countries to emulate British, American, Canadian or Australian varieties of English, especially in respect to pronunciation. For example, Qiong (2004) argues that such a goal is undesirable and virtually unattainable. Smith (1985, p. 5) cited in Nihalani (2000, p. 112) says: “Non-native speakers must develop a fluency in educated English but they do not have to have native -speaker pronunciation as their target. In contrast, they should be trained to be examples of educated speakers of Standard English, identifiably from their country. A good pronunciation is one that a variety of educated listeners find intelligible.” In this context, it is worth noting what Honna, et al. (2001), cited in McMurray (2001, p. 1), observe. They found that Japanese students were comfortable with speaking English with a Japanese accent when they asked high school students “whether they wanted to sound like their American assistant language teacher (an American) or whether they wanted to sound like their Japanese teacher… they all quickly said that they wanted to sound like their Japanese teacher… the Japanese teacher in his class spoke excellent English with an unmistakably Japanese accent.”

The present paper is a review of the various issues surrounding the use of English in Asia. It has attempted to capture the salient features and role of English in Asia and drawn into focus some of its significant aspects such as its universal spread and subsequent formal and functional deviations, which have led to concerns about its intelligibility in the global context on the one hand, and a need to develop a wider pragmatics to accommodate its culture-specific functions on the other hand. The paper has also discussed the pedagogical implications stemming from its diffusion and diversification. In short, the paper has made a case for phonological, lexical, grammatical, sociolinguistic and pragmatic codification of the varieties of Asian English. As you can perceive, the general illocutionary force of the paper is that of an admonition to accept and promote the legitimacy of the evolving varieties, and accordingly re-orient the approach and methodology of teaching English in Asia and radically revise the teaching materials used in these countries for both practical and cultural reasons.

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A Critical Discourse Analysis of Euphemization and Derogation in Emails on the Late Pope https://www.linguistics-journal.com/2014/01/09/a-critical-discourse-analysis-of-euphemization-and-derogation-in-emails-on-the-late-pope/ Thu, 09 Jan 2014 02:22:34 +0000 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/www2/2014/01/09/a-critical-discourse-analysis-of-euphemization-and-derogation-in-emails-on-the-late-pope/ June 2006 home PDF version |

January 2006. Volume 2

A Critical Discourse Analysis of Euphemization and Derogation in E-mails on the Late Pope

Ali Rahimi and Rahman Sahragard

Ali Rahimi
Kashan University, Iran
Rahman Sahragard
Shiraz University, Iran


Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) has become a very influential academic research activity across subjects in social, political, educational, and linguistic sciences. It scrutinizes the power relations, ideological manipulations, and hegemony. This paper is an attempt to explain how a single reality, that is the death of the Pope, John Paul II, is presented and viewed entirely differently by different people having a range of religious and political perspectives reflected in their emails. In this study, van Dijk’s (2004) framework adopted from ”Politics, Ideology and Discourse” is used to detect discursive structures which lead to ideologically based parochial, prejudiced as well as antireligious statements. The CDA of the e-mails written about the Pope has underscored the fact that ideological manipulations are expressed, enacted, sustained and, at times, inculcated through discursive structures. The macro strategies of ‘positive self-representation’ and ‘negative other- representation’ (which are intimately tied up with ‘Polarization’ of in group vs. out group ideologies or US-THEM) have turned out to be very accurate criteria for the evaluation of attitudes, and opinions. Euphemization and Derogation have proved to be rife in the ideological manipulations of the texts leading to the intended positive self-representation and negative other-representation. These are discursive structures applied to enhance, mitigate, avoid or exacerbate an issue. They illustrate the ideological functions of positive self-representation or negative other-representation. These in-group/out-group differentiations are manifested in the CDA applied on the attitudes towards Popes’ death in this article. The findings of this study can be conducive to expanding students’ critical thinking abilities in comprehension and production of language and also in revitalizing the neglected construct of language proficiency.

Key words: Critical Discourse Analysis, Ideology, Euphemization, Derogation Discursive structures, Presupposition, Polarization (In- group vs. Out-group), Negative other- representation vs. Positive self- representation

1. Introduction
Critical discourse analysis shares a lot of common grounds with critical approaches in their endeavours for people’s awareness and ultimate emancipation. According to Widdowson (2000), CDA is the uncovering of implicit ideologies in texts. It unveils the underlying ideological prejudices and therefore the exercise of power in texts. To illuminate the techniques and processes employed, it must be asserted that power relationships, ideologies and identities are created and naturalized by the manipulative styles of language. It is incumbent on the students and academics alike to be able to decrypt and comprehend the basic intentions of the authors and speakers. They must be equipped with some devices to detect manipulative and ideologically biased language.

One of the very prevalent and effective techniques in naturalization of ideologies is the dichotomous categorization of ‘euphemistic’ and ‘derogatory’ terms which belongs to the semantic component of any language (Hodge and Kress, 1993). Hornby (2004, pp.339-428) defines derogatory as “showing a critical attitude towards others, or insulting” and euphemism as “an indirect word or phrase that people often use to refer to something embarrassing or unpleasant, sometimes to make it seem more acceptable than what it really is”.

Sensitivity and attention to this dichotomy can lead to an awareness of the negative and positive implications of the words. These shades of meaning are utilized by writers and speakers to change realities and events as well as create different feelings and reactions within the audience. Through this mechanism, the very same event or phenomenon can be presented entirely differently by people belonging to different parties and mental models (van Dijk, 2004). It should be pointed out, however, that this dichotomy is manifested in different disciplines such as, politics, religion, law, education, etc.

1.2. Statement of the Problem
Effective discriminative reading and writing are of paramount importance in the modern era due to the prevalence of media and enormous exposure to information. Very ironically, though, students and even some academics have turned a blind eye to the nuances and intricacies of discourse production and comprehension. Hence, the individuals or institutions which have this knowledge at their disposal are able to control and subjugate the people with impunity (Foucault, 1975); they wield a very powerful tool; that is language, to materialize their wishes and aspirations. Furthermore, van Dijk (2000) states that the semantic component of any language is used extensively and effectively for these purposes. A part of this component is the negative (derogatory) and positive (euphemistic) applications of words. Despite the prominence of these semantic aspects, little attention has been given to them. Students are mostly heedless to and unenlightened about the implications of these shades of meanings while they are producing discourse or during the time they are exposed to it. They need to get familiarized with the enormous change that each individual word can bring about. The apparently innocuously interchangeable vocabularies turn out to be hugely different under the scrutiny of CDA and specifically its semantic manifestation of derogation and euphemisation processes. Misunderstanding, bias, servitude, disgust and a myriad of other feelings and events are, no doubt, the repercussions of unfamiliarity with this topic which is colossally inspiring and instructive. It can enhance students’ creativity and critical thinking which have fallen into oblivion or disuse owing to the lack of research in this field. This is a step away from the current practice of mostly focusing on memorization and superficial comprehension and production of texts. The dearth of attention given to the high levels of intellectual and linguistic development has created an ‘academic lacuna’ which must be accounted for without delay. It should be pointed out that there has been little research on the effectiveness of euphemisation and derogation in ideological argumentations. Also notwithstanding the prevalence of this dichotomy in language use and usage in all cultures, very few researches have been carried out on the concept.

2. Literature Review
2.1 Critical Discourse Analysis; Some Theoretical Background
The principal aim of CDA is to uncover the opacities in discourse which contribute to the exercise, maintenance or reproduction of unequal relations of power (Fairclough and Wodak, 1997, p. 258). In other words, the ambiguous and hazy statements are clarified to expose their potentially effective role in the imbalanced power structures of the society. The latent ideologies under the cover of apparently harmless and neutral discourse undergo a dissection or post-mortem procedure called CDA to expose the toxic, debilitating agents.

Despite common grounds underlying all types of studies carried out according to CDA approach; there is a big diversity in both more general objectives of CDA frameworks and their more specific aims. Furthermore, various types of texts call for different analytical frameworks. van Dijk, one of the key figures in the field of CDA, worked initially in the field of discourse analysis and discourse pragmatics, (van Dijk, 1998) and after sometime he turned to the field of CDA. van Dijk (2001) pinpoints that CDA intends to focus on the ways social dominance is secured, sustained and /or reproduced through the manipulation and construction of particular discourse structures. van Dijk (2002) adds that finding the relationship between discourse and knowledge is another important issue that CDA is interested in; and since discourse and knowledge are both complex phenomena, they demand thorough analyses from different perspectives, including a linguistic one.

van Dijk (1998) holds that texts are not used just to inform us of some reality. They, additionally, based on the ideological standpoints of the person, organization, etc. involved in their production, construct the reality. One of the main tenets of CDA, then, is to reveal the sources of dominance and inequality observed in the society by analyzing texts (written or spoken). It is to find the discursive strategies utilized to construct or maintain such inequality or bias in different contexts. A text, according to van Dijk (1997, p.9) ” is merely the tip of the iceberg” and it’s the responsibility of the discourse analyst to uncover the hidden meaning of the text. The basic conceptual and theoretical concepts worked out and used by van Dijk (2000) in his CDA studies are as follows: Macro v. Micro; power as control; access and discourse control; context control; the control of text and talk and mind control. The micro level comprises language, discourse, verbal interaction and so on, while macro level has to do with power relation, such as inequality and dominance. And CDA plans to wed these two levels, since in actual interaction one can not separate them from each other; social power, in this approach, is viewed as a means of controlling the mind and actions of other group(s). The social power by itself may not be negative, but what in fact is of significance to CDA is the inappropriate use of power, which would bring about inequality in the society. van Dijk (2002) takes ideology as the attitude a group of people hold about certain issues; hence the analysis of ideology is one of the main concerns of discourse analysis. In order to uncover ideology generated in discourse, van Dijk resorts to social analysis, cognitive analysis and discourse analysis of the text. van Dijk’s (2004) framework consists of two main discursive strategies of ‘positive self-representation’ ( semantic macro-strategy of in-group favouritism) and ‘negative other-representation’ (semantic Macro-strategy of derogation of out-group) ”which are materialized through some other discursive moves such as ‘actor description’, ‘authority’, ‘burden’ (‘Topos’), ‘categorization’, ‘comparison, ‘consensus’, ‘counterfactuals’, ‘disclaimer’, ‘euphemism’, ‘evidentiality’, ‘example’/’illustration’, ‘generalization’, ‘hyperbole’, ‘implication’, ‘irony’, ‘lexicalization’, ‘metaphor’, ‘self-glorification’, ‘norm expression’, ‘number game’, ‘polarization’, ‘Us-Them’, ‘populism’, ‘presupposition’, ‘vagueness’, ‘victimization .

It should be kept in mind that there in no single monolithic approach to CDA; rather there are a number of other frameworks worthy of consideration and elaboration. However, due to space limitations, a very brief description of the main approaches is provided: Hodge and Kress (1993) consider language as an entity containing certain categories and processes. There are certain models, constituting the categories, used to manifest the relationship existing between texts and events. These models construct fundamental schemata which are crucial in classifying the world entities. They introduce the ‘syntagmatic’ models which comprise ‘actionals and relational’ models.

The other important framework is van Leeuwen’s (1999) conceptual framework. This framework centres on representing social actors. The framework, utilizing a socio-semantic inventory, in a systematic way, displays the ways social actors are represented in the text. It shows the effectiveness of language in representing and even constructing social actors. This theory of representation is also critical in identifying the condition and time when social actors are fore-grounded or are sent to the background, and the reason for which they are fore-grounded or sent into background. Halliday’s Systemic Functional grammar (1989) has been adopted to identify processes related to social actors. It takes a functional approach toward language and focuses on the interplay between language and its social context. Based on this view, language is used by its speakers/writers to meet their needs and as Halliday (1989), maintains there is a close link between the social and personal needs that language is required to serve and the special form taken by grammatical system of language. Viewing language from the functional perspective, Halliday (1989) adopts ‘systemic theory’ to analyze texts.

Fowler (1996) also focuses on the existence of a mutual relationship between forms and functions of language, satisfying each other’s needs, using the following terms: “Functional linguistics is functional in two senses: it is based on the premise that the form of language responds to the functions of language use: and it assumes that linguistics, as well as language has different functions so the forms of linguistics respond to the functions of linguistics” (p.3).

Also Fairclough (1995) refers to discourse as ”the use of language seen as a form of social practice” and to discourse analysis as the ”analysis of how texts work within sociocultural practice” (p. 210). In particular, he considers language as ‘social practice’ and not as asocial phenomenon, acting as both the product of communication and the process (the medium) through which communication takes place. According to Fairclough (1989), we have to analyze ”the relationship between texts, processes and their social condition” (p. 26). That is to say, the analysis has moved away from focusing on ‘whatness’ of the text (description) towards concentrating on the ‘howness’ and ‘whyness’ of the text (interpretation and explanation, respectively). CDA, according to Fairclough (1989), is to display why the speaker/writer, among the array of language structures and modes, selects just certain forms or modes.

2.4. Derogatory and Euphemistic terms
The mechanism of ideological manipulation is materialized through different techniques one of which is the dual classification of derogatory and euphemistic terms. Hornby (2004, pp.339-428) defines ‘derogatory’ as “showing a critical attitude towards others, or insulting” and ‘euphemism’ as “an indirect word or phrase that people often use to refer to something embarrassing or unpleasant, sometimes to make it seem more acceptable than what it really is”. Euphemisms are words and expressions used to soften or mitigate the reality of the ideas transmitted to an audience. They are an indispensable and universal feature of language use and usage; people from different cultures and communities employ euphemistic terms to talk or write about the phenomena they find embarrassing (e.g., gender-related words), terrifying (e.g., death, war, sickness, catastrophes, pestilences), and taboos (e.g., religion). Another application of euphemisms is to elevate and promote the status of some event or phenomenon. However, it is often used to talk indirectly about things whose explicit description is considered especially inappropriate.

Kelner (1992) discusses the following words and expressions:

1 Golf war : euphemism for killing: eliminate, degrade, hunt
2 Vietnam war:

o friendly fire
o kill boxes: areas subjected to systematic bombing and destruction
o Body bags :human remains pouches
o Carpet bombing: bombing a whole area
o Sorties: bombing missions
o Patriot missiles: missiles of mass destruction

3 Operation desert storm: US against Iraq

Also in educational circles words with derogatory overtones are everything but rare. Consider the following terms in education: ‘dropouts’ = ‘early leavers’, ‘tap-water teaching method’ = ‘traditional teaching methods’, ‘rote-learning’=’parrot-like learning’ = ‘meaningless learning’, ‘back-rowers’= ‘lazy students’, etc.

In addition, collective mass hysteria is caused by language in US media to make people accept the war against Iraq. The media reinforces this atmosphere of fear and submission by dramatizing and exaggerating Iraqi evil, by masking US lies and crimes, and by producing positive images of Bush and military officials.

The ‘mean world syndrome’ was produced by TV movies such as: ‘Home Alone’, ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’, and ‘Silence of the Lambs’. These movies show the infatuation of US society with the ideas injected by the media. Dehumanization, racism and violence are the important by-products of media which are materialized through euphemistic and derogatory language (Herman and Chomsky, 2002).

3. Research Questions
In this research the following two research questions are made out of the current problems and needs:

1. How can we detect manipulation of realities and ideologies in text through
euphemization and derogation?
2. Are there mechanisms of manipulation in written political and religious
discourses? And how are they manifested in euphemistic and derogatory terms?

4. Significance of the study
The findings of the present study in the area of CDA and particularly in uncovering the ideological implications of an amalgamation of texts may be presented to the field of Applied Linguistics including Pedagogy, Teaching Methodology, Curriculum and Materials Development as well as Testing or evaluation measures. Moreover, the construct of language proficiency will be treated more comprehensively as a result of the inclusion of the findings of this study. The insights taken from this study will also be conducive to students’ critical thinking as well as self- actualization and creativity.

First, in the arena of pedagogy as a whole, the modification of teaching techniques is indubitably an implication of this study. This enhancement is carried out through some novelties in language teaching strategies based upon the ideas proposed by Hall and Hewings (2001) and a new role and responsibility, one of a ‘cognitive guru’, assigned to the teacher. This way teachers can promote and implement innovation which is defined by Markee (in Hall and Hewings, 2001, p.120) as “proposals for qualitative change in pedagogical materials, approaches, and values that are perceived as new by individuals who comprise a formal (language) education system.” Other teaching methods such as ‘Access-self materials’ (Tomlinson, 1998), ‘Autonomy and Development’ (Edge and Wharton, 1998) also publicize similar notions.

Second, as far as curriculum and material development are concerned, this study promulgates the learner based, cognitively stimulating approaches. The texts selected for these researches are authentic and lend themselves to functional and communicative syllabi. Furthermore, the priority is placed on an ‘a posteriori’ or ‘retrospective’ syllabi (Richards, Platt & Platt, 1992) which are emerging and flexible and in line with students’ feedbacks, cognitive stages and intellectual argumentations. Ideologically charged, genuine materials will be considered an indispensable part of ‘literary canons’, reading, writing and translation courses. This research is a major action taken to include critical thinking, evaluation, and self- actualization in our language planning and policies. They are currently forsaken and nonchalantly neglected in our country.

According to Samuelowicz (1987); Fraser, Malone and Taylor (1990), South-East Asian students are mostly stereotyped as passive non-critical rote-learning students, who don’t participate in deep learning styles and attitudes, these are seen as a reflection of different learning capacities and hence, as a deficit that must be removed by additional teaching strategies. As a consequence, teaching methods and materials designed for students must concentrate on proficiency taking into account the perceived inadequacies in students’ critical thinking and creativity. This is considered the most distinguishing factor separating university academic standards from secondary schools and the one academic area not overtly addressed at high schools. In fact, academics often complain about the paucity of critical thinking skills in students’ assignments and researches. Although critical thinking has always been viewed as a necessary attitude of all successful tertiary students, there has been increasing emphasis in recent years on the overt acquisition or teaching of critical thinking skills, with most academic disciplines now making this requirement explicit. There is no longer an assumption that students will acquire the skill in the normal course of their academic degree. Subject topics specify the need for a critical approach or evidence of critical thinking by including the role of critique, critical reflection, creativity and argumentation or critical analysis in their course outlines training programs. Critical thinking is considered such a fundamental skill that it has become a marketable asset. Each university advertises a list of generic graduate attributes that they claim their students acquire as a part of their degree. Critical thinking and related areas such as problem-solving skills, argumentation and ‘text analysis’ are the prominent elements in these lists. Our universities likewise need to follow the same plans to live up to international standards. This research can be a step towards this undeniably significant goal.

5. Methodology
5.1. The data and data sources
The materials used in this study come from our larger study which included emails on the Late Pope’s character, achievements, and death. The ideas and attitudes towards the Pope were elicited through emails. Different people from different countries were asked through electronic mails to elaborate on the late Pope’s character and death. In response to this request, 18 emails were sent to the researchers. They were sent by people from a wide variety of religious, educational, and socio-political backgrounds. For instance, Marta is a 26 year old catholic Polish girl studying sociology and involved in NGO activities. Her parents are involved in educational activities. Catherine is a 33 year old Catholic Belgian girl employed in the TV channel ‘the Canvas’. Cindy is a 32 year old Dutch saleswoman not particularly concerned with religious issues. She has liberal political views and identifies herself with antiwar activist. Benjamin is a 29 year old British middle class graduate, privately and Oxford educated in math and philosophy. He has global environmentalist socio-political views. His mother is Jewish and he is adopted by his Christian father. He considers himself Buddhist though. Michael is a 27 year old Indian-British atheist, art and designs graduate. He is from a working class family and has left wing communist political views. For the purpose of the present paper, two texts are selected out of the emails received. They were then critically analyzed based on the selected framework. The researchers opted for these texts since they were amenable to the intended CDA framework and represented various and even opposing religious, nationalistic and political viewpoints. The language used in such texts was politically and religiously charged and was replete with derogation and euphemisation strategies or negative other-representation as well as positive self-representation. In other words, they were imbued with ideologically manipulative and evaluative vocabulary. The writers turned out to have identified themselves with certain attitudes and viewpoints and tried to influence the audience by means of critical linguistic devices. Hence, the texts selected are homogeneous in terms of the critical devices and in line with the questions and objectives of the research.

5.2. Data Analysis
The data provided in the abovementioned texts are analyzed within the framework proposed by van Dijk (2004). The dichotomous categorization of euphemisation and derogation in his framework reflecting the basic strategy of ‘negative other-representation’ and ‘positive self-representation’ (In-group vs. Out-group, US-THEM) has been adopted for the analysis of the data. This study is a CDA of texts which has followed a qualitative research design.

5.2.1 Analytical framework
The framework employed in this study was that of van Dijk’s (2004). In the framework, he elaborates on 27 ideological strategies among which the dichotomy of ‘euphemization’ and ‘derogation’ stands out. This categorization is very effective in implementing the fundamental strategy of ‘self positive-representation’ and ‘other negative-representation. The former is an ideological function which is applied to portray oneself as superior than the others; instead, the latter is to present the other as inferior or mediocre. Positive self-representation or in-group favouritism is a semantic macro- strategy used for the purpose of ‘face keeping’ or ‘impression management’ (van Dijk, 2004). Negative other-representation is another semantic macro-strategy regarding in-groups and out groups, that is, their division between ‘good’ and ‘bad’, superior and inferior, US and THEM. This is imbued with ideologically charged applications of norms and values. In other words, euphemization and derogation are semantic devices to emphasize or deemphasize (van Dijk, 2000) ideological meanings creating the polarization of ‘in-group and out-group’ (positive self-representation and negative other-representation). These are discursive ways to enhance or mitigate our/ their bad characteristics and, as a result, mark discourse ideologically. Positive self- representation is semantically implemented through euphemization which is a rhetorical device in connection with the avoidance of negative impression formation. It prevents the creation of negative attitudes and opinions about the dominant powers. This ideological function is in fact a semantic move in line with another discursive structure called self-glorification noticed in van Dijk’s framework. Conversely, derogation is a discursive device which is intimately related to another semantic device proposed by van Dijk called ‘victimisation of others’. As the name suggests others’ supposedly mundane properties are magnified and brought to the surface. It is worth mentioning that the macro-strategy of Positive self-representation and Negative other representation is made possible through other discursive strategies such as Categorization, Comparison, Consensus, Evidentiality, Example/Illustration, Hyperbole, Irony, lexicalization, Self-Glorification, Number Game, Polarization, Presupposition, Vagueness and Victimization (for a fuller description of the terms see van Dijk, 2004). The manifestation of some of these elements can be noted in the tables derived from the texts and is presented in the appendix. These tables include the discursive strategies of euphemisation and derogation, presumed effects and ideological moves.

The selected key terms of the framework are defined in the following:

Actor description: The way we describe actors or members of a particular society either in a negative or positive way.
Authority: Mentioning authorities to support one’s claims.
Categorization: Assigning people to different groups.
Consensus: Creating agreement and solidarity
Disclaimer: Presenting an idea as something positive and then rejecting it by the use of terms such as ‘but’ in the second sentence.
Evidentiality: Using hard facts to support one’s ideas.
Hyperbole: A device for enhancing and exaggerating meaning.
Implication: Deducing or inferring implicit information.
Irony: Saying something and meaning something else.
Lexicalization: an overall ideological strategy for negative other-representation through the semantic features of the words.
National Self Glorification: A device to create positive self representation by glorifying one’s country.
Number Game: Using numbers and statistics to appear credible.
Polarization: Categorizing people as belonging to US with good attributes and THEM with bad attributes.
Presupposition: The common shared knowledge between people or the ideas which are taken for granted in a proposition.
Vagueness: Creating uncertainty and ambiguity.
Victimization: Telling bad stories about people who do not belong to US

6. Sample Analysis and Discussion
Text 1 written by Marta
As you know for sure the Pope has died. This is a very important time for Polish people. I just wanted to write you how the things look here. Actually it is amazing to be in this country during this event. Poland is 95% Catholic. You can imagine what Polish Pope meant for Poles. It is beautiful how people deeply participate in his death. It is going to be written in poor English but I want to tell you what is going on. On Friday whole Europe was praying before John Pawl’s II death. They were standing on squares, in Churches, praying at homes. I’m not Catholic so I was spending this time at home. At 10 pm Saturday the cautionary siren went on in whole Warsaw. It was for the first time when I heard it live (before that I could hear them only in war films from world war 11). They (responsible officials) never use them. But I knew from the first second that they turned them one because the Pope had to just die. I knew that it is going to happen soon, but anyways it shocked me. Every program in TV and radio stopped their emission. They started to report about Pope’s death. I came out of my house. People started going to the main Church in Warsaw, near the Old Town. Some of them were crying, some deeply thinking, some lighting candles, some hugging and giving support to each other. Everybody (!) knew what happened instantly. So I walked with my friends to that Church. Streets started to be covered with people walking in one direction. Then we approached the street that was closed for vehicles and people were standing in front of that Church in a big group listening go the mast. Just peace, silence, sadness, some tears, some smiles.

Ideologically Laden Terms:
Important, amazing, 95% catholic, beautiful, deeply, siren, whole Warsaw, shocked, salience, amazing, special, crawling, crowd, united, great man, wonderful friend, pity, gone,

CDA of Text 1
The writer of this email is from Poland, the birth place of the Pope. She informs the readers that 95% of the population of Poland is catholic (statistics: the writer’s figure). This is a rhetorical strategy for argumentation used for objectifying her ideas (Number Game).

Considering the very euphemistic words and favourable dramatic descriptions of the post-Pope events in Poland, the reader is led to believe in the significance, and positive impact as well as great qualifications of the Pope.

First she states ”This is a very important time for the Polish People”. Here she attaches great significance to his death and tries to show this feeling through the description of the events and unprecedented occurrences like the ”the siren went on in the whole Warsaw”. She describes some other events (such people crawling on the streets and hugging, the non-stop coverage of TV programs, closing the shops, etc) as the reason for his importance. She has made the implication or indirect assumption that these events are indicative of the Pope’s importance. A claim which has been rejected by some other people. They believe these external parameters have nothing to do with the Pope’s importance rather they are evidence of different mentalities and practices. Based on the critical analysis of the other emails and articles, one can come to the point that these events may be the aftermath of the mass’s foolhardy, hypocrisy, religious bigotry, etc. In regard with the government’s and the church’s activities, all this fuss (as claimed by some other writers) can be an endeavour to gain more power ideologically and politically in the rat race of political competitions. More technically the Positive self-representation is achieved through the ideological move called ‘National Self-Glorification’ which is a semantic strategy mostly noticed in nationalistic rhetoric.

Afterwards she states ”it is amazing to be in this country during this event” .She has opted for the word ‘amazing’ and not some other derogatory counterparts such as ‘appalling’, ‘shocking’, ‘bizarre’, etc which have been used to refer to the very same situation by writers who have been against the event. The semantic features of the word ‘amazing’ gives it a euphemistic tone creating feelings of a pleasant surprise at a fascinating or even presumably unparalleled experience. She tries to convince the reader that being in Poland in this specific occasion is a prerogative. She is trying to affect the people’s mental model related to this specific situation and make it conspicuous and worthwhile

She then mentions “it is beautiful how people deeply participate in his death”. She uses the term ”beautiful” to describe the state of people’s mourning ceremonies. Again she makes the assumption that the scene is really something pleasant to view. A proposition which is rejected by the other writers who deem it even nauseating and repulsive. Here she also utilizes the term ‘deeply’ as the manner of people’s mourning practices. This word is a shield against some writers’ views in connection with the superficiality of the whole ‘show’ and accusations about people’s idiocy, opportunism as well as government’s and institution’s power struggles. In sharp contrast to this view, some writers believe the mass only toes the line or jumps the band wagon. The community of mourners is positively presented here though.

The writer further points out ”that I knew that it is going to happen soon, but always it shocked me.” She is referring to his death as a shock rather an ‘amazement’ which she already discussed. (See also the sentence ”Poland got out of their houses and prayed…that was something amazing”). The term ‘shock’ invokes the feelings of agitation, distress and consternation. This package of semantic features causes the meaning, effect and interpretation of the word to be derogatory and negative. The writer believes that she might get flabbergasted or nonplussed at his death not amazed nor surprised. So the shared in-group feeling or the common ideology is reflected here.

To corroborate her arguments, she then depicts the situation as very serious, important sorrowful and tranquil by the terms ”just peace (correction mine), salience, sadness, some tears ….” Specifically, the word ‘salience’ is chosen to prove the significance and undeniable impact of the event. She tries to put forward and prove this proposition by the rich semantic components of the word ”salience” which brings to the mind the elements of importance, prominence, and conspicuity.

Again in the sentence ”but participating in this mast was something special” which is another effort at the depiction of the event as something unique and the chance to attend it as a privilege. She intentionally avoids using the derogatory terms eccentric, bizarre, weird and queer as possible candidates to delineate the same situation. Positive self- representation is exercised in this part of the discourse.

Moreover, in the sentence ”the crowd was crawling towards the mast from everywhere.” The terms ‘crowd’ and ‘crawling’ have ideological implications. The writer is indirectly instilling the idea that there were an enormous number of people attending the ceremony. The word ‘crawl’ shows a slow and hampered movement. People are portrayed as dragging themselves onward. Nonetheless, upon a closer scrutiny, the reader may ironically get the impression that ‘crawl’ is used in the derogatory senses of flattery (she is always crawling to the boss), weakness (baby), injury (crippled), etc. (see Hornby, 2004). We notice here that the writer’s efforts at persuasion may backfire under the critical analysis of perceptive readers. It turns out to be counterproductive rather than productive in terms of her persuasive discursive strategies. As a result the intended Polarization, positive self-representation, euphemisation may prove faulty.

Afterwards, she uses the term ‘united’ in connection with the people in the sentence”. It was something so special to watch all those people, united ….”. The point is that she is giving the people a sense of solidarity, and unity, aspiring a single purpose of grieving over a shared bereavement. The discursive strategy of Consensus and Empathy or collectiveness as a political strategy is used to activate and sustain the sense of group ideology. It perpetuates the Polarization of US-THEM, the division between ideologies in favor of her and against her. Into the bargain, the word ‘united’ has strong political implications which can have the pragmatic function of creating fear, threat, and intimidation. Religiously speaking, it may be considered a menace against other branches of Christianity too. In certain circumstances, this word smacks of patriotic tendencies portraying an alliance against some external entity.

Near the end of the article, she mentions ”John Paul II was a great man and a wonderful friend of this planet” claiming the universality of the Pope’s greatness and affability. The word” planet” is intentionally used to attest to his global influence. It is a very appealing and currently fashionable word considering movements and organizations such as ‘Green Party’, ‘N G O’, etc. Here he is portrayed as a peaceful, kind friend of the inhabitants of the planet earth. The social memory of the people is targeted in this argument by the semantically positive terms of ‘friend’, ‘wonderful’ and ‘great’. The writer, who has already identified herself with the appreciable features of the pope’s character, carries out the positive self- representation function by these words.

Lastly, she points out ”it is a pity that he is gone”; the term pity implies a loss inflicted upon the mourners. She wants to show the idea of sympathy and compassion caused by the death of a friend, that is, another persuasive discursive strategy at activating a Common Ground, Consensus and Collectiveness as well as Empathy. All these ideological concepts are means of integrating the in-group ideologies through shared episodic and social memories of the community. The term ‘gone’ is used here to refer to his death implying a spiritual and unearthly journey to join God. His death is not the terminal stage of his life rather a beginning in itself; not a destructive phenomenon afflicting him but a transient blessing causing his reunion with God. From the perspective of the effect on the readers, the terms ‘pity’ and ‘gone’ appeal to the individual’s sympathies and emotions. Pragmatically speaking, this is because of the simplicity and affection emanating from the words in this specific context.

Text 2 by Michael
Time to speak ill of a dead leader who let millions live in anguish. Pope John Paul II is remembered as being compassionate, but in many ways he was anything but, writes Emily Maguire. About 5 million people flocked to Rome last weekend to farewell Pope John Paul II. That’s the same number of people newly infected with HIV in 2003. That’s 10 million people at least – whose lives have been touched by the man who was Pope. Speaking ill of the dead is not the done thing, which is why all we’ve heard about the Pope over the past week is that he was an inspirational and compassionate leader who played a significant role in the defeat of communism in Poland. This may be true, but for many his legacy is one of great suffering. There are 40 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS, and another 15 million children are AIDS orphans. And yet the Catholic Church, under Pope John Paul 11, instructed its priests to condemn condom use. Worse, it used its considerable influence in some of the poorest and most AIDS-affected nations to prevent health workers from distributing, or even talking about, condoms. Some examples since the mid-1990s: in Honduras the church intervened to prevent the distribution of 1 million free condoms; in Kenya senior church officials burnt condoms and safe-sex literature and released a pamphlet claiming that condoms cause AIDS; in Nicaragua the church persuaded the Government to pulp a sex education guide that mentioned contraception; and in Zambia officials withdrew a government AIDS prevention campaign because of church pressure. In these nations, and many others, the proclamations of John Paul II have meant millions have died, and will die, from a preventable disease. The AIDS crisis aside, the Pope’s anti-contraception stance has contributed to the suffering of the world’s poorest women and children. Speaking on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent in 2003, Nafis Sadik, a former executive director of the UN Population Fund, related a meeting she had with the Pope in 1994. Sadik had suggested the church could play a role in reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in Third World countries by teaching men not to “impose themselves” on unwilling wives. “Don’t you think that the irresponsible behaviour of men is caused by women?” was the Pope’s response. So bad luck for women living in Catholic-controlled countries who – whether they want to or not – get pregnant. An abortion is out of the question. In the Pope’s last published book, Memory and Identity, abortion is equated with the Holocaust. So women must spend time in overcrowded, under-resourced hospitals, giving birth to children who are likely to suffer chronic hunger- and poverty-related diseases throughout their short, painful lives. Even in the most extreme case imaginable, John Paul II’s church was immoveable. Two years ago, a nine-year-old Nicaraguan rape victim was almost prevented from having a termination, thanks to the intervention of the Catholic Church. Her Catholic parents, terrified their little girl would not survive childbirth, defied the Pope and procured an abortion. They were promptly excommunicated from the church they loved. Tragically, the church showed less concern for the children under its care then it did for that girl’s violently conceived fetus. In addition to failing to protect hundreds of innocent children from predatory priests, and failing to compensate or adequately apologize to those victims, the Vatican recently displayed horrifying callousness by giving a cushy Rome-based job to Cardinal Bernard Law, the former head of the Boston diocese responsible for covering up multiple child sexual assaults over an extensive period. Again and again in the past week, John Paul II has been remembered as “compassionate” and “loving”, yet he was anything but compassionate and loving to homosexuals, describing the push for gay marriage as “a new ideology of evil”. He preached that homosexual acts went against the “natural moral law” and warned that to allow children to be adopted by gay couples would be to “do violence” to them. We’ll never know how many young men and women have committed suicide or led lives of deceit and anguish because this “great leader” told them the love they felt was “evil”. All of this is particularly appalling when you consider that the so-called ancient and unchanging doctrines of the church are anything but. Catholic thought and doctrine has changed countless times over the centuries, and John Paul II apologized for stances taken by his church in the past, acknowledging that what was once thought right was, in hindsight, wrong. In effect, he was also acknowledging that real harm can be caused by a Catholic acting (or failing to act, in the case of the Holocaust) on cold doctrinal legalism rather than concern and compassion for suffering humanity. John Paul II had the power and influences to radically improve the world. From sub-Saharan Africa to South-East Asia, from Northern Ireland to South America, in every major city in the world, and countless villages and towns, millions of the world’s citizens trusted this man to rule in their best interests and lead them in living right.

Ideologically Laden Terms
ill, flock, legacy, suffering, forty million, fifteen million, worse, influence, poorest, AIDS affected, intervened, claiming, persuaded, pulp, catholic-controlled, Holocaust, under-resourced, suffer, chronic, poverty-related, short, painful, diseases, hunger, termination, predatory, horrifying, callousness, cushy, covering up, ideology, evil, appalling, so-called, cold, doctrinal, legalism

CDA of text 2
This text is in striking contrast with the previous one. The writer uses several persuasive arguments backed by semantic devices and some statistical information to put forward his negative ideological stance towards the Pope. His main arguments are the opposition of the church to the use of contraceptives and abortion which, he believes, have claimed the lives of some five million people and ruined some lives beyond redemption. In this regard, the spread of AIDS virus in Africa, and HIV related orphan children, have been deemed as the aftermath of Pope’s supposedly illogical and non-scientific instructions. The other instance of his allegedly malicious influence is the pope’s stance towards the gays and his objection to their adoption of children.

The writer of this passage attempts to delineate his negative view towards the pope through making propositions supported by some semantic, pragmatic and statistic information. The macro strategies of Positive Self-Representation (Semantic Macro strategy) and Negative Other-Representation (Semantic Macro strategy) are reinforced by means of micro strategies of ‘actor description’ (Ingroup-outgroup), ‘authority’ (argumentation), ‘comparison’ ( meaning, argumentation), ‘consensus’, ‘euphemization’, (rhetoric), ‘lexicalization’ (style), ‘number game’ (rhetoric argumentation), ‘polarization’, (US-Them), Positive Self-Representation (Semantic Macro strategy), ‘presupposition’ (Pragmatic).

First in the sentence ”about 5 million people flocked to Rome….” The derogatory term ‘flock’ conjures up the image of an animal imagery since it is mostly used for the collective immigration of birds, goats or some other animals. This term can be an indication of a ‘herd mentality’ presumably inflicted on the Catholics. It may also create the picture of a bevy of Christians following their shepherd.

The semantic strategy of Negative Other Representation is enhanced through the discursive structures of derogation, ‘actor description’, and ‘lexicalization’. Through the discursive semantic strategy of actor description, (or ‘Agency’, to use van Leeuwen’s terminology) the mourners of the Pope as the social actors or agents are described negatively here. (Also see the word ‘ill’ in the first sentence, with similar implications).The possible positive replacements could have been ‘congregates’, or ‘assembles’. Hence, he presents his proposition through some disparaging words (derogation). Furthermore, lexicalization, a discursive strategy related to style, is another effort at negative other- representation in the word ‘flock’. In the same sentence, the writer tries to substantiate his claims by appealing to statistical information and comparisons. To this end, the rhetorical argumentative device of Number Game is introduced to guarantee the credibility of his claims through moves that emphasized objectivity by the use of numbers and statistics. This is similar to two other micro strategy called Authority and Evidentiality. The writer then refers to the same number of people who died of AIDS to dramatize the ferociousness of the crime allegedly perpetrated by the Pope. This is a snide comment directed at the Pope. The same discursive strategy of Number Game can be noticed in the sentence ”There are 40 million adults and children living with HIV/AIDS, and another 15 million children are AIDS orphans. The writer is conveying the idea that his opinions are scientifically tenable. So too are his attempts at negative other- representation backed up by statistical evidence here. Looked from the perspective of moral philosophy, the argumentation technique of Openness or Honesty (van Dijk, 2000) is observed in this part of the discourse, still another impression management ploy to avoid negative impressions on the recipients. This method of argumentation is an effort to change opinions and attitudes into fact, it is intended to persuasively display objectivity and exercise stronger impact on the recipients. van Leeuwen (1999) attributes this to ‘objectivation’.

Moreover, in the sentence ”this may be true, but for many his legacy is one of great suffering. The term ‘legacy” is by no means innocuously simple and unequivocal. Rather it turns out to be very slippery and confusing. It is prone to misinterpretation unless the relevant socio-political and pragmatic information are taken into account. For the reader to come up with the intended negative or positive meaning of the term, he needs to have these contextual and situational clues. This term can refer to ”things passed to somebody by predecessors or from earlier events, etc”: his weak chest was the legacy of a childhood illness ” (Hornby, 2004). In this text, the word ‘legacy’ is used in a derogatory sense owing to his negative attitude and the co-text, that is, ‘great suffering’. The institution is presumed to torment the followers and leave them in distress. In this regard, the Pope’s ideas have been analogous to wounds whose pains and indelible scars can be observed on the Catholics bodies. Here we see the importance of socio-cultural and pragmatic factors in understanding the functions of language, the illocutionary forces and the intended messages. This very term ‘legacy’ can have euphemistic implications in other contexts and social settings: the cultural legacy of the Renaissance. In this instance, the positive semantic features are implied. So the stylistic strategy of lexicalization prompts the ideological intention of Negative other-representation. Based on the contextual formation and the ideological moves of the texts, we can understand that the writer considers the ‘repercussions’ of the Pope’s so called achievement as lethal and counterproductive.

By the same token, the term ‘influence’ is noticed in the sentence ”worse, it used its considerable influence in some of the poorest and most AIDS-affected nations to prevent health workers from distributing, or even talking about, condoms.” Likewise, the reader requires some sociocultural knowledge or common ground, which consists of knowledge, belief, fact, and opinion, to parry these traps and be able to decipher the true meaning and effect of this particular word. This can be done if one is familiar with the episodic beliefs which are involved with controversial, uncertain and personal issues. ‘Influence’ can be defined as the ”power to affect somebody’s actions, character or beliefs through example, fear, admiration, etc.: a young leader under influence ” (Hornby, 2004). The term smacks of manipulation, struggle for power, as well as exercising pernicious effects on the others in certain situations and contexts. Here again the neighboring words (co-text) are of indispensable importance for understanding the speech acts produced. The words ‘worse’, ‘poorest’, ‘most AIDS- affected’ (as the co-text) provide the necessary clues for perceiving the true intention of the writer, which is one of denouncement rather than advocacy. As a result, the term ‘influence’ is proved to have been used in a rather derogatory not euphemistic sense. The reader can see another instance of negative other- representation or derogation.

The next paragraph is fraught with derogatory terms used as effective linguistic weapons in the hands of the writer to manifest his scathing criticism against the pope. In the sentence ”In Honduras the church intervened to prevent the distribution of 1 million free condoms.” The term ‘intervene’ is defined as ”to interfere so as to prevent something from being done” (Hornby, 2004). Nonetheless, this information is everything but adequate for comprehending the writer’s ideological political as well as religious stance. Like the afore-mentioned examples, common ground and sociocultural knowledge assist the reader to come up with the appropriate mental representations in social memory. This deals with ideological notions of opinion, prejudice, fantasies, etc and more importantly as a criterion for truthfulness. The information about the context and social parameters are the necessary building blocks of our pragmatic analysis. This word (intervene) can be regarded as an impediment on the way of something constructive (specially in the process of language learning by children when talking of adults intervening their learning attempts) or, conversely, a barrier halting a destructive act or phenomenon. In this text, however, the enigma is solved (familiarization) through the words in the immediate contexts. The words ‘claim’, ‘persuade’, ‘pulp’, ‘pressure’, etc. attest to the negative implications of the words ‘intervene’ and another example of derogation or negative other-representation.

In the same paragraph, the writer makes use of the term ‘claim’ in the sentence “released a pamphlet claiming that …..”. This implicitly presupposes that the proclamations of the church are not feasible. The writer is in fact questioning the plausibility and validity of the church’s ideas. A euphemistic replacement for ‘claim’ could have been the word ‘believed’ which is devoid of negative ideological attitude. This concept is used here as an intermediary representation between ideology and discourse to make ideological views concrete. The ideological attitude of Derogation or negative other-representation is manifested through the term ‘claim’. In other words, the Polarization of US vs. THEM or in-group vs. out-group categorization has been carried out through the medium of discourse.

What’s more, the writer’s diatribe is made harsher by the word ‘persuade’ in the sentence ”in Nicaragua the church persuaded the government to pulp a sex education guide……” The reader is led to believe that the church has ‘wheedled’ or ‘cajoled’ the government into the act of ‘pulping’ the pamphlet. This shows the conflict between the government and the church on this issue. Again, the act of pulping, which means savagely breaking into small pieces, is not without negative implications since it is mostly perpetrated by rebels or similar bunch.

Moreover, the collocation ‘Catholic-controlled’ in the sentence ”So bad lucks for women living in catholic-controlled countries”. This combination pinpoints the idea that the institution of church is exercising power and hegemony (refer to Gramsci, 1971) over the people. They are at the mercy of religious commands and fettered by its injunctions of the institution. This is related to the structure of mental models (van Dijk, 2000) as the general abstract schema used by the people for the interpretation of events. These models feature instantiation (specification, example) of more general abstract opinions including social cognitions (here the church control). The derogatory term ‘bad’ intensifies the strategy of negative other-representation in the mental model of the readers together with the relevant schema for the interpretation of events. It should be pointed out, however, that these interpretations are subjective and may be affected by ‘spinning’ or manipulative distorting discourse. In “Weapons of mass deception” written by Rampton and Stauber (1997), the authors show us a brave new shocking world where sharp marketers, information warriors, and ‘perception managers’ can sell an entire war to consumers. ‘Spin doctors’ are in fact the media agencies who fabricate or spin stories and unreal narratives to distort realities. For instance, Iraqi aggression by the US was called by spin doctors as “operation of Iraqi Freedom”. The writers deconstruct ‘true lies’ behind the war; that is, ‘the big lie’ tactic. They expose aggressive public relations campaign used to sell American public on the war with Iraq, (Media spin). In “Mad Cow USA: could the nightmare happen here?” (1997), Rampton and Stauber claim that US policies are as destructive as mad cow disease. (See “Toxic sludge is good for you, Lies, damn lies, and the public relations industry” by Stauber and Rampton (1995a), see also D’Souza, 1996 and Rampton and Stauber 1995b). In this specific example, the process of derogation may lead to biased opinions and ideological Conflict. In line with the same method of argumentation, van Leeuwen (1999) provides the binary opposition of inclusion vs. exclusion which is noticed in this example.

In the same paragraph, the writer uses an ‘allusion’, that is, the ‘Holocaust’ to refer to the issue of abortion. The sentence ”abortion is equated with the holocaust” does not challenge the reader in the process of understanding the intended message. The writer substantiates his idea through a reference to one of the Pope’s books. He has recourse to the fallacy of mentioning ‘authorities’ to support his views. He tries to show the harshness of the analogy by providing a very tangible and heart-rending event called ‘holocaust’. Also, consider the plethora of negative words such as ”overcrowded, under-resourced, suffer, chronic, hunger, poverty-related, diseases, short, painful.” The array of these derogatory words renders the situation in the hospital as abysmal, pathetic and catastrophic. They function as the agents to manifest the writer’s disgust over the Pope’s fatwa (verdict) banning the use of contraceptives. Furthermore, the writer resorts to the discursive strategy of Evidentiality, which is a semantic argumentative measure appealing to evidence and authority, to authenticate his claims. He refers to the Pope’s own book ‘Memory and Identity’ in which abortion is reported to have been synonymous with ‘holocaust’. To dreg up the tragic memory of the massacre, he invokes the readers’ episodic memory in which personal, auto biographic and subjective information is imprinted. At this stage, we see the relationship between personal models and social representations: attitudes and ideologies may affect the contents of the mental models we develop for particular events. We usually tend to translate the general ideologies to specific experiences as embodied in our mental models. The writer’s use of the derogatory terms and the allusion ‘holocaust’ is indicative of this manner of representing events and others negatively by means of these devices.

Besides, the term ‘termination’ is euphemistically used as a replacement for the term ‘abortion’, a direct and inappropriate word, creating the feelings of embarrassment and repulsion. The writer who is an advocate of such a practice has resorted to a mild and pleasant replacement for it, that is, the euphemistic counterpart ‘termination’. In Wikipedia, euphemism is defined as a word or phrase which people use in place of the terms which they consider to be more disagreeable or offensive to themselves and or to their audience. They are often used to hide unpleasant ideas, even when the literal term for them is not necessarily offensive. This type of euphemism is used in public relations and politics, where it is know as ‘doublespeak’. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism).

This euphemization is employed as an ideological move affecting the reader’s mental representations of social memory in which norms and values organizing our actions and evaluations are found. This type of memory includes ideological and evaluative beliefs as well as attitudes and judgments of ‘good and bad’, ‘permitted’ or ‘prohibited’ (see the similarity with derogation euphemization). The tactful way of referring to abortion as termination is an effort to change the value systems in the social memory of a community.

In the next paragraph, the terms ‘predatory priests’ are employed: “In addition to failing to protect hundreds of innocent children from predatory priests……”. The term ‘predatory’ is used in a derogatory sense meaning ”wishing to exploit others for financial or sexual reasons: predatory advances, attentions, etc. Also, ”we were pestered by predatory salesmen” (Hornby, 2004). Negative other-representation is very explicitly or rather blatantly exercised here and the writer has made no bones about it. He is defaming or tarnishing their reputation by presenting them as savage, dangerous entities inflicting malaise and abuse. This brings to the mind the practice of ‘smear campaigns’ launched by political rivals. The reader’s mental model or social memory of a ‘priest’ is addressed here. To make the point more concrete and tangible, consider the terms ‘AIDS predator’ and similar collocations which, no doubt, calls forth the image of a beastly despicable individual in the reader’s social or probably episodic memory.

In the same paragraph, the sentence “the Vatican recently displayed horrifying callousness by giving a cushy Rome-based Job…” Here the terms ”horrifying callousness” is a pejorative collocation intended to manifest the writer’s abomination at giving a sinecure to this cardinal. His feeling is dramatized by the intensifier ”horrifying” and the derogatory word ‘callousness’ meaning insensitivity, and stone-heartedness (derogation). He relegates the status of this cardinal’s mission to a ‘cushy’ job which is another derogatory term indicating fun, recklessness, easy benefit, etc; another occurrence of Negative other-representation through derogation. In the same paragraph, the expression ‘cover up’ is used in the sentence ”The former head of the Boston diocese responsible for covering up multiple child assaults over an extended period of time”. This expression is an allegation levelled at the priest. Again this expression is a disparagement and indictment due to the negative semantic features involved (negative other-representation through derogation). The expressions ‘gloss over’ and ‘whitewash’ are synonymous with it and are frequently used in ideologically charged discourse. Also, the derogatory terms ‘sexual assault’ together with the intensifier ‘multiple’ are the writer’s ‘ideological nail’ in the priest’s coffin.

In the next paragraph, the Pope is reported as referring to the impetus for gay marriage ‘a new ideology of evil’. Here the writer expresses his view that some people’s choices for certain lifestyles have been libelled as devilish. Considering the abhorrent features attributed to the devil in Catholic doctrine, one can see how cruel of this analogy is. However, this analogy is everything but rare. Recently the frequency of occurrence of ‘the ideology of devil’ has dramatically increased. Tony Blair calls the attitudes of the Muslims (of course its ‘perverted form’, to his opinion) ‘the ideology of the devil’. So does George Bush in his talks on the ‘Axis of Evil’. The writer states that the Popes has derogated the gay’s choice by reporting him as saying it is tantamount to devilish ideology. To strengthen his argument, the writer employs the ideological move of irony in the sentence ”we’ll never know how many young men and women have committed suicide or led lives of deceit and anguish because this ‘great leader’ told them the love they felt was ‘evil’. Here, the negative other representation strategy reveals itself in the rhetoric device of Irony. van Dijk (2004) states that accusations or derogations may be made more effective if they are not made point blank but in apparently lighter and milder manners using Irony. The pope is sarcastically referred to as ‘this great man’, and the writer is, in effect, poking fun at him. To push his persuasive arguments forward ,the writer makes use of the terms ‘deceit’, ‘evil’ , ‘suicide’, anguish’, all of which affect the mental model of the readers regarding the sordid life the gays have led or the lethal decisions they made under the presumed religious restrictions or bigotry. The writer states that the pope has victimized the gays by sticking to polarization, victimization, binary US THEM or In-group Out-group categories of straight vs. gay , natural vs. unnatural , holy vs. devilish. This schism is said to be deepening by the Pope considering gay practices as ‘devilish’.

The first line of the next paragraph ”all of this is particularly appalling…” is another bitter criticism pointed at the presumably currently unalterable doctrines of the church in regard with disputable issues. The term ‘appalling’ is a derogatory one encompassing the feelings of fear, shock and nausea. All these negative features are encapsulated in one word making it very effective. What’s more, it is preceded by the intensifier ‘particularly’ to the effect of influencing the reader’s mind to a great extent. Again, the rhetoric ideological move of Irony emerges in the terms ‘so called’ in the phrase the ”so called ancient and unchanging doctrines of the church”. The writer’s ironic tone seriously questions and sneers at the ‘so called’ unalterable religious injunctions”. He is presumably avoiding the pitfalls and limitations imposed on the writers when discussing some ‘taboo’ subjects by appealing to the rhetoric and political powers of ironies (van Dijk, 2004). The derogation of religious regulation has come about in a sarcastic remark influencing the readers’ related mental models. In the same paragraph, ‘cold doctrinal legalism’ is used in the sentence ”In effect, he was also acknowledging that real harm can be caused by a catholic acting (or failing to act, in the case of the Holocaust) on cold doctrinal legalism rather than concern and compassion for the suffering humanity. The three words are all used in a derogatory sense to seriously challenge the church motive. In this context, the word ‘cold’ brings about the image of cruelty. For example, ”he was killed in cold blood”, ‘a cold-blooded murder’. Also, the word ‘doctrinal’ is another derogation move since it refers to rigid draconian principles. To make the derogation of the Catholic Church attitude more dramatic, the word” legalism ” is used which portrays the ideology of control and dominance as the manifestations of Macro Strategies. These are strategies employed by groups and social actors, institutions, whole states or societies, and their relationships such as those of power. Since ideologies are shared by a group, they, socially speaking, belong to a macro level of description, whereas individual opinions of a social actor at a given moment belong to the micro level (van Dijk, 2004).

Concluding Remarks
In a nutshell, the findings of this study corroborated the fact that Critical Discourse Analysis can be an appropriate method for the detection of biased and manipulative language. In this framework, the dichotomous categorization of euphemization/ derogation turned out to be a very effective discursive strategy at the disposal of the writers. In the texts analyzed, language has been used as a shield and weapon to support austere catholic ideologies or, conversely, to instil secular viewpoints. Based on the CDAs conducted, the writers of the commentaries on the Pope were seen to have avoided certain words, for the purpose of soothing and propitiating or inculcating certain ideologies, and reinforcing particular feelings such as disgust, excitement, sympathy, respect, etc. In the texts analyzed, a number of discursive structures, and most prominently euphemization and derogation, have been exploited for materializing the main ideological function of Negative Other Representation vs. Positive Self- Representation. This dichotomy is inextricably tied up with other discursive structures of Polarization (US-THEM Categorization, In-group vs. Out-group) which is a semantic strategy in assessments about others. This fundamental Macro strategy (van Dijk, 2004) is revealed through some other strategies such as ‘actor description’, ‘categorization’, ‘consensus’, ‘euphemization’, ‘evidentiality’, ‘hyperbole’, ‘irony’, ‘lexicalization’, ‘national self-glorification’, ‘number game’, ’empathy’, ‘common ground’, ‘disclaimer’, ‘polarization’ (US-THEM), ‘presupposition’, ‘vagueness’, and ‘victimization’. The biased representations detected in this study are used to ‘delegitimize’ (to use van Leeuwen’s (1999) terminology) the other’s ideologies and legitimize our own view points reflected in the social memory (van Dijk, 2000) of the group. In other words, the writers tend to disguise or mystify the manipulative purpose of inclusion and exclusion. Such a disguise creates positive or negative attitudes on the part of the readers.

The pejorative or derisive words (derogation) have been used to vilify the Pope and render him inferior and mundane while euphemistic words (euphemisation) have been utilized to portray him as an altruistic, holy and even unearthly phenomenon. The enormous power of words for emotional appeals, argumentation, distortion of realities and ideologies, manipulation of the other’s thought and behavior, and struggle for inculcating one’s attitudes has been manifested in the CDAs carried out on the commentaries about the Pope.

The findings of the study thus enrich the research literature on CDA and Euphemization/ Derogation strategies in several ways. They suggest that these strategies are pervasive in discourse. They also illustrate that these strategies serve a number of linguistic and non-linguistic functions. They serve both informational and interactional functions (Barton, 1999) in discourse (‘Interactional’ is used here to refer to the ideological and social functions such as establishing solidarity, etc., whereas ‘informational’ function is used for transference of knowledge). The functions of derogation and euphemization are to develop a particular perspective on the information. Positive self-representation and Negative other-representation lead to inclusion and exclusion. In this respect, we tend to use political and religious solidarity and homogeneity or, conversely, difference and heterogeneity to establish the perspective that we and our religious or political views are superior. The insights gained from this study show that the information presented and the perspective developed in the discourse of the people critically analyzed (in this case, negative other representation and positive other representation) is effectively created and reinforced by the frequent use of euphemization and derogation strategies. It also proves the ubiquity of ideological rhetoric specially the semantic section of language (van Dijk, 2004) even in the disputations about the apparently ‘innocent’ topics such as ‘the Pope’ about which it is naively assumed to be little ideological conflicts. The point is that even discourses which seem to be devoid of any ideological content do have their ideological baggage owing to the pervasiveness of positive self-representation and negative other-representation.

Taking into account the colossal bulk of CDA research on different aspects and components of language, it is assumed as true that it has been a huge stride in the path of text analysis for the ultimate goal of exposing the underlying ideologies and ideological manipulations. There is, however, no single monolithic approach or theoretical framework for this sociolinguistic discovery which entails familiarity with linguistic and non-linguistic facts. The researchers needs some socio-political, information about the writer of the text as well as a good grasp of the religious, economic, historical, political and social conditions of the setting. This way he is armed with the necessary instrument to delve into the different layers of meanings and the intricate network of semantic implications to decipher the dialogical moves and manipulations in a text.

The researchers have been on their guards taking into account this convoluted interplay between language, politics and society. He has tried to be conscious of the sensitive role played by the semantic components of the languages and different functions (see Halliday, 1985) of words such as persuasion, argumentation, deception, transference of information, dominance, hegemony (see Gramsci, 1971), manufacturing consent (see Chomsky, 2002), monopoly, imperialism (see Thompson,1990), fallacious arguments, spinning (Goddard,1998; Rampton and stauber,1997) , innuendo, subliminal seduction, (Key, 1973), linguicide (see Wikipedia on this issue), defamilirization (Magic Realism), euphemization (Fulford, 2002), political correctness (Burridge,1991), derogation, identifying taboos and orthodoxies verbal camouflage, language sterilization, etc. Hence, the researchers did their best to make the most encapsulating framework, which turned out to be van Dijk’s (2004) CDA design. The findings of the study approved the conclusiveness and precision of this conceptual framework in catering to the nuances of ideological manipulation since it dealt with the essential linguistic, social and political information. It is stating the obvious that no CDA is adequate and viable without these indispensable factors. This framework was shown be different from and more efficient than the previous ones owing to its emphasis on the semantic strategies which has been mostly overlooked or victimized in the previous syntactic oriented approaches. The paucity of the CDA researches on the semantic and rhetorical devices and the preponderance and bewildering frequency of such elements in ideological moves has made research with this orientation just what the doctor orders! It presents an amalgamation of method of argumentation, political strategies, rhetorical devices, semantic strategies, and stylistic information, to the effect of achieving an accurate criterion for the huge significance of language in distorting realities, glorifying or otherwise smearing something or someone. Furthermore, the framework lends itself neatly to the presumed effects of derogatory and euphemistic words on the recipients of the message. This presumed effect on the audience (for instance, empathy, sympathy, agreement, objection, denouncement, abomination, fear, insecurity, tranquillity, animosity, excitement, fury, etc) has not been touched upon by the previous researchers notwithstanding its unique role in determining the functions the building blocks of a text have. Furthermore, the inclusion of disciplines such as politics, sociology, and history has made van Dijk’s Framework (2004) very exhaustive and germane with the current idea of the value attached to the concept of ‘interdisciplinary’. This entails involvement and familiarity with different areas of knowledge or study (Hornby, 2004: 677). This interdisciplinary nature of the present research and the paradigm employed is a step towards higher levels of cognition such as critical thinking (see Reichenbach, 2001; Bloom, 1956). The researchers adopting such an approach can by no means do without the knowledge about the other relevant disciplines. This is in itself an urge to expand one’s educational horizons and free oneself from the shackles of mental slavery which has plagued our educational systems. Another important point which strengthens the credence of this research is the ‘novelty effect’ which, psychologically speaking magnifies one’s motivation in wholeheartedly reading something and acting accordingly. As you noticed, the CDAs were carried out on a novel and (to the researcher’s opinion) interesting and globally important issue. This study was allocated to the email on the life, achievements, and death of the Late Pope. This was an innovative selection owing to the ubiquity and saliency of emails in the post modern world of mind-boggling advancements in communication and globalization. Also we can not deny the far reaching effects of the charismatic Pope whose aura, vibe, and radiation were felt by massive numbers of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. The other factor which had made a CDA on the Pope inspiring was his involvement with some very controversial issues such as the separation of church and state, AIDS, poverty, etc. The CDAs on the emails on the Pope indicated that such text analyses can expand our understanding of the ways people’s episodic and social memories (van Dijk, 2004) can be affected by semantic strategies of derogation and euphemization as the fundamental linguistic tools for positive self representation and negative other representation.

Theoretically speaking, the findings of this study can be applied for the enrichment of the previous theories of language learning such as Markedness Theory, Language Universals, Acculturation, Natural Approach, Monitor Model, etc. The results can be used in stipulating new conditions in a theory of language and expanding it to include some new elements already overlooked. The findings of this research can also help psychologists unravel the always present conundrum of ”nature vs. nurture” controversy regarding language learning. Furthermore, the tables provided by the researchers enrich the framework’s effectiveness, consistency and comprehensiveness in detecting ideological inculcations. More specifically the section ‘the presumed ideological effect’ suggested by the researcher encompasses a whole range of emotions, reactions, attitudes and opinions on the part of the recipients. This proposal for enlargement of the framework was made vis-à-vis the insights gained from the texts analyzed and the inadequacy of van Dijk’s framework to cater to such a need. The fact is that sociolinguistic of this type studies do not occur in lacunas or vacuums, rather the writers’ political, social and religious backgrounds are in an inextricable contact with those of the recipients of the message. Therefore there needs to be a criterion to assess this dynamic ideological interaction. The tables presented are an effort to come up with such a device. Studies of this kind emphasizing the semantic component of the language and the mutual effect of the producers and recipients of the message can shed some more light on the current literature on CDA, by illuminating the sections and characteristics of language which have been ignored in the previous studies. Moreover, in regard with the development of a theory of second language learning, the findings of this study can enrich the typological linguistics studies and produce new ways of categorizing languages. The Semantic features used in this CDA research can be the criteria for classifying languages based on the techniques and strategies they provide for ideological manipulation and reality distortion. Language typology puts forward the idea that languages differ from each other not entirely randomly but manifest various types of commonalities and differences. The classifications such as isolating language, agglutinating, polysynthetic or incorporating, tone, SOV, SVO, (see Greenberg, 1974; Malmkjar, 2004) are noticed here. Language typology will be viewed entirely differently if the previously ignored semantic and discursive structures are included in a theory of language learning. This study can be a foundation stone for future studies regarding the semantic ideological potentials of languages in manufacturing, maintaining and disseminating realities. Moreover, in the light of the data gleaned from this study and similar CAD researches, the formidable task of forensic linguists will be made easier in detecting the ”plagiarized, alien texts” by finding out the irregularities in the semantic critical aspects of the text. Investigations into ”authorship attribution” can use the critical linguistic tools in a forensic context. New computer soft wares can be developed based on new knowledge about people’s style of ideological manipulation, reality fabrication!, and stylistic semantic variation. The following questions can be answered more accurately: What does the text say? What does a text mean? What does part of a text mean? And who is the author? Replying such questions is of paramount importance in the perpetration of crimes such as manslaughter, suicide (suicide notes) and the detection of the real culprit. Counterfeits and fake certificates and texts can be recognized through a critical semantic analysis such as the one conducted in this research.

Another discipline is closely related to CDA studies is pragmatics which deals with the principles governing language in use (Malmkjar, 2004). It includes a number of phenomena such as conversational analysis, speech act theory, conversational implicatures, conversational maxims (Grice, 1975), politeness (Brown and Levinson, 1987; Leech, 1983), relevance theory (Sperber & Wilson, 2002), critical linguistics, CDA, language and education, linguistic relativity, sociolinguistics, social pragmatics, and macro pragmatics. Fundamental to the understanding of all these phenomena is having a profound understanding of the cultural traditions, norms and values in different sociolinguistic background. Bitterly ironic though, these indispensable aspects of language have not received the attention they deserve in our academic settings. This is certainly a terrible blow to our education system and must be tackled by the findings of CDA and similar pragmatically oriented studies. Second language learning will doubtless be a debacle or a distressingly frustrating experience unless the intricate cultural pragmatic constraints on communication, reading and writing are brought to the limelight. In addition, rhetoric and stylistics are two essential building blocks of language proficiency. Much to the researcher’s disappointment, in most of the frameworks and pedagogical programs these two aspects of language have been either overlooked entirely or received slight attention. Rhetoric is rooted in the theory of how, and by what linguistic tools a speaker or writer can achieve his aims. It is the art of argumentation, persuasion, and disputation; all elaborated on by CDA.

Furthermore, knowledge about this discipline can immeasurably enhance students’ essay writing and speaking abilities. These rhetoric devices of argumentation were profoundly discussed in this study. Another closely related phenomenon is stylistics which presents a range of linguistic styles in communications. This includes a continuum of Frozen, Formal, Consultative, Casual, Intimate styles. Chaos, misunderstanding, and wrath ensue in the case that the stylistic norms based on the context and culture are violated. In writing, stylistic and collocational clash undermine a text’s coherence and cohesion as well as its rhetorical efficiency. These points have deemed excruciatingly important in the CDA conducted.

Second, in our academic settings, critical thinking has received little attention. According to Reichenbach (2001), critical thinking is:

The careful, deliberate, determination of whether we should accept, reject or suspend judgement about the truth of a claim or a recommendation to act in a certain way. It involves being a reflective, persistent questioner, wanting to know why you should believe or do something and carefully investigating and evaluating the reasons given. (p.19)

He also regards the following six elements as necessary for critical thinkers:

1. Acquiring knowledge or information
2. Comprehending or understanding what you read and hear
3. Applying what you understand to given situations
4. Analyzing the information that you understand
5. Synthesizing and creatively using what you understand and have analyzed
6. Critically evaluating what you understand and have analyzed or created (p.20).

One of the implicit objectives of this research is to help students acquire the afore-mentioned competencies through the linguistically, cognitively and pedagogically appropriate materials and techniques. This entails considering the essential criteria for fostering thoughtfulness, profundity, and perceptiveness.

The view has been influenced by Bloom’s (1956) “Taxonomy of educational objectives. Richards et al (2003, p.39) enumerate the following six levels, starting from ‘Knowledge’ (which focuses on reproduction of facts) to ‘evaluation’ (which represents higher level of thinking) for cognitive development:

Level: Characteristic student behaviours

Knowledge: Remembering, memorizing, recognizing, recalling

Comprehension: Interpreting, translating from one medium to
Another, describing in one’s own words

Application: Problem-solving, applying, in formation to produce
some result

Analysis: Subdividing something to show how it is put together, Finding the underlying structure of a communication, identifying motives

Synthesis: Creating a unique, original product that may be
in verbal form Or may be a physical object

Evaluation: Making decisions about issues, resolving controversies
or differences of opinion.

This model assists our students in their critical thinking activities, and one of the goals of this research is to take care of the different stages of educational levels and integrate them into a pattern for teaching and learning critical thinking and ultimately ‘self actualization’ and ‘evaluation’. On a broader perspective, the findings of this research can be applied to the other disciplines since these cognitive capacities are necessary for the comprehension and analysis in other fields too.

The findings of this study may revitalize the neglected construct of language proficiency which is so fragile and prone to unfair attitudes. This concept has recently been loosely defined and suffers from menacing loopholes. Some professors’ unwarranted leniency regarding students’ acceptable level of proficiency has been detrimental to their comprehension and production skills. Therefore, the essential qualifications of language proficiency must be assessed against critically and pragmatically more rigorous criteria such as ‘evaluative semantics’, (Malrieu, 1999) including euphemism/derogatory senses, and CDA models of Hodge and Kress (1993); Fairclough (1995); Wodak (2001); Widdowson (2000); van Dijk (2001) and van Leeuwen, (1996). It is worth mentioning that appropriate proficiency in the language is the prerequisite condition for acquisition of critical skills (four skills) in the language. In turn, the development in the students’ cognitive abilities will strengthen and facilitate the acquisition of a second language. Critical thinking is far from possible unless the four skills have been deemed and grasped critically.

Bachman’s (1995) model of ‘Communicative Language Ability’ is a step towards the appropriate model of language proficiency. It consists of a language competence (organizational: grammatical, textual and pragmatic: illocutionary sociolinguistics competence).This model and the other tests and frameworks of language proficiency, nonetheless, have turned a blind eye to the critical thinking, self actualization, and argumentation which are the final destination in the students’ linguistic and cognitive journey. This research aims at exposing the forsaken elements and offering some ideas to enliven the whole construct. A by product of this research can be some insights into more effective learning and teaching techniques and procedures related to such sections.

Consequently, critical comprehension and production of language, appreciating ambiguity (mystification) or vague language, layers of meaning (denotation, connotation, designation), emotive language (stereotyping, euphemism, dysphemism or derogatory, innuendo (implicit or indirect reference), hyperbole (exaggeration), and persuasive language are touched upon or elaborated on in this research. Any effort at understanding the relationship between language, power and ideology, as the fulcrum of CDA arguments and of this research, will backfire unless the above mentioned factors are taken into account.

Practical Implications
CDA advocates endeavour to put forward an insight into the discursive structures of various texts and genres together with their socio- political effects. Moreover, they wish to draw the readers and listeners’ (recipients of the message) attention to hidden to a text and do not just the ‘tip of the ideological iceberg’ (van Dijk, 1997). People tend to consider the text as the true reflections of realities and fact and have a propensity to see only what meets the eyes. Critical analysts of the texts, however, attempts to create a sensitivity and consciousness about the latent invisible fabrication, misinformation, and manipulation, misdirection, and misinterpretation exercised by some writers and speakers. The derogation and euphemization stratagems are mostly not observed nor felt by the people who are at the mercy of strong argumentative and rhetorical instruments. The ensued positive self representation and negative other representation is inspected and a teleological analysis is put forward by CDA practitioners.

Another implication of a CDA of this type is to ask the readers to be conscious of different aspects a text production such as the writer’s socio-political background, the historical setting, and the cultural overtones. These parameters are the essential ingredients of critical thinking and self actualization as the ultimate goal of all educational enterprises (Reichenbach, 2001). It is a powerful weapon against insular, parochial and short-sighted mentalities which is the bane of our educational system. It is also a shield to ward off the mental sluggishness and lackadaisical cognitions threatening some students. Texts are far from ideologically neutral rather they are replete with ideologically charged materials which can be brought to the readers’ and listener’s views through CDA studies. As the findings of the present research showed there are very strong ideological ploys in the texts investigated and the writers have constructed and disseminated their attitudes in a surreptitious manner. As Barthes (1968) states in his ‘death of the author’, readers are not passive recipients of the information flowed to them anymore. They are supposed to be creative perceptive agents in this process of interaction with the text which may be fraught with unobservable discursive strategies promoting the writer’s attitudes.

Another important insight gained from the texts analyzed was that language was a very strong device in promulgating religious bigotry, jingoism, nationalistic self glorification, subliminal seduction, fallacious arguments, specifying religious and political taboos, political conflicts, suppression of minorities, denigration of the underprivileged, cracking down on the dissidents, religious domination over the masses, manufacturing consent and mental slavery, distorting the unwelcome realities, construction and imposition of ideologies, launching smear campaigns, putting positive and negative spins, and what not.

CDA propagates the idea that enhancement of critical thinking is conducive to a society in which justice and equality are materialized and power is distributed fairly among the citizens. This mental ability make readers and listeners perceptive to judgemental prejudiced discourse and prompts them to act against injustice, incommensurate distribution of power, and pandemic propaganda machines which create fear and insecurity among the people and say that only their products can be the panacea or cure-all. These propaganda measures marginalize the Other through their ideologically loaded sexist or racist discourse. Political correctness, for instance, in US and England was a reaction to sexist language stipulating some conditions on the ‘appropriate’ non-racist discourse such as ‘salesperson’ instead of ‘salesman’ or the of the pronouns he/she and not just ‘he’, It was in effect a campaign against patriarchal norms and practices or a male dominated society or discourse. Language planning and policies as such can benefit a lot from CDA studies which reflect such issues in detail.

CDA can be used as a powerful device for deconstructing the texts to come up with their intended ideologies. It is a methodological approach for those involved in socio-cultural studies. Also, it is can be a theory for finding the manners in which the attitudes, political powers and identities causes sociolinguistic variations in different communities.

To wind up the argument on the practical significance of the present study, one cannot help discussing the effect of CDA on translation studies and practices. The act of translation is not an exclusively purely linguistic enterprise; the translator must attend to political, social and ideological backgrounds of the writer to be able to render a message from the source to target language. Due to the fact that translation encompasses the close link between language and culture, CDA researchers aim at accurately analyzing the translated rendition to see how much the ideology of the writer is visible in the translated text, and to what extent cultural points affect the process of translation. (See Venuti’s visibility vs. invisibility of the translator, 2000). The findings of the present study, obviously, would help the readers/translators determine the discursive, ideologically manipulative structures used by dominant agents and offers some implicit guidelines to resist and modify them. In this case, Venuti’s (2000) visibility/invisibility dichotomy, no doubt, creates the awareness necessary in this enterprise. Besides, Munday’s (2001) insights on the ideological and political parameters related to the status of the source text have been also very helpful in the analysis of movie translation and critiques. Hence translations turn out to be ideologically motivated, confusing political ideologies with the original idea (adaptation). In this context, translation is used in the battle lines of ideologies and religions creating a lasting effect on translational output. Translations are sometimes scenes of ideological incursions, that is, suppression of dialectic features. They are sites of ideological clashes in which certain realities are constructed and challenged and xenophobic attitudes are propagated. The translators counterfeit realities and inculcate them in the innocent audience. This research and other CDAs can give some insights into the ideological and socio-political factors which determine the strategies applied in translation.

The study also raises some interesting and challenging questions for the continued research on:

1. What other functions are served by derogation and euphemization?
2. What is the role of derogation and euphemisation (positive self representation and negative other representation) in enhancing ‘critical thinking’ as an undeniably important indication of cognitive competency?
3. Is it typical of euphemisation and derogation to be used not only to provide information but also to elaborate, develop and reinforce ideological perspectives?
4. How does an awareness of this dichotomy affect students’ language proficiencies and applied linguistic studies?
5. How is this dichotomy reflected in ordinary or mundane conversations (Schegloff, 1997)? And can it be captured by “Conversation Analysis” (CA) terminologies in its foundational rhetoric? And how can it help the researches solve the controversies surrounding CA and CDA objectives and epistemological approaches? (See Billig, 1999)
6. What is the attitude of Feminist thinkers or other minorities towards this dichotomy? How is it related to the self representation and “framing” of the disadvantaged people (Torck, 2001) in their media representations (like homeless people)?

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Thai and American Responses to Compliments in English https://www.linguistics-journal.com/2014/01/09/thai-and-american-responses-to-compliments-in-english/ Thu, 09 Jan 2014 02:14:36 +0000 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/www2/2014/01/09/thai-and-american-responses-to-compliments-in-english/ | June 2006 home | PDF version |

June 2006. Volume 2

Thai and American Responses to Compliments in English

Payung Cedar
Naresuan University,

Bio Data
Payung Cedar holds four degrees in English and Linguistics, including a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Boston University. She has been working in the field for 12 years. Currently, she is teaching in the English Division of the Humanities Faculty at Naresuan University, Phitsanulok, Thailand.

Paying a compliment and responding to it can be a challenge for non-native speakers whose social values and norms are different from those in the target language culture. Using transcriptions from recorded interviews and participant observations, this study investigated similarities and differences between 74 compliment responses given by 12 American native speakers (6 males and 6 females) enrolled in graduate programs at a U.S. university, and 68 responses given by 12 Thai adult students (6 males and 6 females) enrolled in an intensive English program at the U.S. university. The results showed that the English learners responded differently from the native speakers. In particular, the learners used the patterns that were not commonly recognized by the Americans. The results also showed a significant effect of gender on compliment responses in both groups.

Key words: compliment, response, Thai, American, English

When socio-cultural rules in the native language (L1) differ from those in the second language (L2), the learners’ transferring of their cultural norms to the target culture of the L2 often causes misunderstanding or offence, resulting in communication breakdown (Lewis, 2003; Holmes, 2001; Celce-Murcia, 1991; Wolfson, 1989).

Compliments and Compliment Responses
The causes of misunderstanding and communication breakdown include different norms of complimenting and responding to compliments. According to Holmes (1987, p. 101), the primary function of a compliment is affective and social rather than referential or informative. For any culture, a compliment must express approval of something that both parties, speakers and addressees, regard positively (Manes, 1983), and it must be valued by the culture indicated (Holmes, 1987; Manes, 1983). Yet, the ways in which people compliment and respond to the compliment vary culturally. Therefore, studies of how native and nonnative speakers of English respond to English compliments would benefit those in the realm of English pedagogy, and cross-cultural communication.

In the past decade, sociolinguistic studies have been increasingly conducted on compliment responses between English used by native speakers and English used by L2 English learners with different L1s, for example, Chinese (Yu 2003; Chen, 1993; Chiang and Pochtrager, 1993), German (Golato, 2002), Indonesian (Ibrahim and Riyanto, 2000), and Japanese (Yoko, 1996). The results of the studies show that cultural difference has an impact on compliment response types. However, no study on responses to English compliments between Thais and Americans (or any native speakers of English) has been administered.

Compliment response types in Thai culture differ from those in American culture (Cooper and Cooper, 2005; Gajaseni, 1994). In the United States, a compliment is often used for maintaining social harmony and for sustaining social interaction (Celce-Murcia, 1991). It can show gratitude, open or close a conversation (Wolfson, 1983), soften a criticism or request (Brown and Levinson, 1978), establish and reinforce solidarity between the speaker and the addressee (Herbert, 1989; Manes, 1983; Wolfson 1983), and serve as expression of praise and admiration (Herbert, 1990). For this reason, compliments have become clearly marked features in American English. On the other hand, Thai culture values humility and modesty, thus complimenting, particularly on the appearances of strangers, occurs less frequently in the Thai community than in the United States. That is to say, a compliment in Thai is a carefully controlled speech act with a much more restricted purpose than a compliment in American English.

As the values of compliments in Thai and American-English differ, so do compliment responses. No matter how delighted a Thai feels about a compliment s/he receives, s/he is careful to be modest and refrains from showing any outward sign of pleasure. Responding to a compliment includes verbal and nonverbal behavior (body language) such as smiles (Holmes, 1987). Like verbal expressions, smiles in different cultures carry different meanings. For instance, Americans smile mainly to show friendliness. Thais smile for pleasure, acceptance, friendliness, and situation-soothing (e.g. when there is an emotional pressure between two people). Thus, an American, who does not understand standard Thai norms of responding to compliments, may be confused when he sees a Thai person’s smile in response to his English compliment. Consequently, the goal of this study is to reveal differences between Thai and American cultures, in terms of responding to English compliments, for the sake of English pedagogy and intercultural communication.

In addition to differences between cultures, it is important to take the difference between sexes (or gender) in these cultures into account. Many researchers (e.g. Tannen, 1996; Holmes, 1995; Herring, 1994; Herbert, 1990) have been writing about the effect of gender on language, and inter-sex communication in a single culture. Indeed, gender differences are parallel to cross-cultural differences (Tannen, 1990). Specifically, men and women rely on different sub-cultural norms (hierarchical vs. equal relationships) when interpreting the cultural information encoded by language. Consequently, it is worthwhile to study the interactions between men and women, men and men, or women and women of different cultures exchanging verbal and non-verbal compliments and responses.

Consequently, the goal of this study is to reveal cultural differences between Thai and American cultures in terms of responding to English compliments. Specifically, this paper investigates the sociocultural knowledge of Thai-speaking learners of English in an English speaking country (the United States of America) regarding compliment responses. The major research questions are as follows:

1. What are the differences between compliment responses of Thai-speaking learners of English and those of native speakers of American English?
2. Does gender difference affect the compliment response patterns of Thais and Americans?

The subjects in this study were divided into two groups: Thais and Americans. The Thai group included six males and six females in the ESL (English as a Second Language) program at Boston University, Massachusetts. The residency period of the subjects in the United States ranged from 6 months to 1.2 years, with an average of 8.6 months. These ESL learners had a college degree and some English lessons in their home country. They obtained a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score in the range of 450 – 501. The subjects’ short period of stay in the U.S. and their previous education in Thailand should reflect how effectively they learned the English language and culture in their home country. The American group included six males and six females who were native speakers of English, enrolled in graduate programs at Boston University.

The data was collected from individual interviews. As the researcher was a Thai native speaker, fluent in the Thai language and culture, the risk was high that she would influence the Thai subjects in some way. To prevent this, an adult female American English native speaker was asked to interview all subjects.

At the onset of the interview, the interviewer requested permission to use the content of the interview for research purposes. However, the interviewer did not specifically identify what aspect of speech would be examined. This was to elicit compliment responses that were spontaneous and subconscious. When getting the subject’s verbal consent, an interview started.

The interview format was similar for both Thai and American subjects. That is, each subject was asked questions concerning his or her biographical background, such as where s/he was from and how long s/he had been in the U.S. and so forth. The interviewer pursued various topics depending on the interest the interviewees. When there was a chance, the interviewer would insert a compliment related to the topic. The interviewer consistently put forth compliments during an interview, expressing approval of something about the subject, which would supposedly elicit a positive feeling. The compliments were made on their appearance (e.g. “I like your facial complexion”), possession (e.g. “Your shirt looks really nice”), or ability (e.g. “Your English is very good”). The length of the conversations varied a little, depending on the situations and the subjects. However, the average time was approximately thirty minutes per interviewee. The interviews were tape-recorded in their entirety for later transcription.

In addition to the tape-recording, the researcher (a Thai native speaker) took notes on non-verbal behavior as a response to a compliment during the interviews. The symbols used to represent non-verbal behavior included ‘s’ for ‘smile’, ‘ts’ for ‘talk and smile’, and ‘n’ for ‘no response and no smile’. The symbols were used so that the interviewees could not understand them if they noticed them. In practice, the interviewees simply paid attention to their conversation with the interviewer.

Data Analysis
Each compliment response found was placed in one of Chiang and Pochtrager’s (1993) categories of compliment responses: acceptance, positive elaboration, neutral elaboration, negative elaboration, and denial. However, this study required two more categories: smiling, and no response. These categories are described below.

1. Acceptance: ritual “thank you”, i.e., agreement with no further elaboration, e.g. “Thank you”; “I think so, too”; “I’m glad you like it.”
2. Positive Elaboration: account, history, positive comment, efforts, return of compliment, e.g. “I bought it at Macy’s”; “Red is my favorite color”; “I worked hard on the project”; “I like yours, too.”
3. Neutral Elaboration: seeking conformation or shift of credit, e.g. “Really?”; “Do you think so?”; “My assistant selected them.”
4. Negative Elaboration: downgrading, duty or responsibility, need for improvement, e.g. “The house is a bit too small for us”; “I still need a lot of improvement”; “It’s my responsibility.”
5. Denial: no or negative opinion, e.g. “No, not all”; “No, my baby is ugly.”
6. Smiling (laughing): non-verbal expression of embarrassment without any overt verbal response
7. No Response: no indication of having heard of the compliment

In cases of compound responses with more than one category, they were assigned according to the perceived intention of the speaker. “Thank you”, with further positive elaboration, was classified as positive elaboration since acceptance needs no further elaboration. Similarly, “Thank you”, with negative elaboration, like “Thank you, I still need a lot of improvement”, was categorized as a negative elaboration. “Thank you”, in these cases, was considered a marker of politeness, since no other genuine intention was expressed verbally by the speaker.

In order to determine whether there were response pattern differences between the Thai and American subjects, and whether gender difference would affect the subjects’ use of different strategies of response, the data was coded and entered onto Microsoft Excel sheets, and then analyzed statistically, using chi-square, percentage and reliability values, via the computerized program called SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences).

Results and Discussions
Based on the research questions mentioned earlier, the results are divided into two sections: 1) the response patterns, and 2) the gender difference effect, as respectively demonstrated below.

Research Question 1: What are the differences between compliment responses used by Thai speakers of English and by native speakers of American English?

In response to this research question, compliment responses produced by Thai-speaking learners of English and those given by native speakers of English are presented in Table 1 below.

Table 1 Different response strategies used by Thai speakers of English and native speakers of English

Note: The numerals are the percentages of the total number of responses in each strategy divided by the total number of all responses in all strategies: 68 responses for the Thai group and 74 responses for the American group. The reliability coefficient (alpha) of the data in the table above is 0.8534.

As shown in Table 1 above, the statistic result shows that there is a significant relationship between compliment responses given by Thai learners and English native speakers (X2 = 24.4388, p<.001), indicating that the difference is statistically significant. Descriptively, the results stored in Table 1 above show three interesting patterns. First, four-fifths of the American responses fall into the categories of acceptance and positive elaboration. Eight out of ten Americans respond positively to the compliments, whereas only about half of the Thai subjects do so.

Second, only five percent of the Thai responses are found in the category of positive elaboration, in contrast to thirty percent of the American responses. This variation seems to come from the Thai speakers’ lack of sociocultural familiarity with the English expressions involved. In other words, the English conversational competence of Thai subjects was not developed enough to express their feelings of positive elaboration, whereas they did have formulaic expressions (certain expressions used in certain situations) with which to respond to the compliments in the following categories: acceptance, neutral elaboration, negative elaboration, and denial. These categories of expression are not surprising, even for beginning L2 learners, because they can be found in simple day-to-day conversations. The examples below occur regularly in the interviews with the Thai subjects. An alias is given to the interviewer and the interviewees to honor their privacy.

E.B is the interviewer’s alias.
E.B: Your shirt is really nice.
E.R: Thank you.

E.B: I like your jacket.
R.W: Oh, really?

E.B: I think you did a good job.
C.G: I hope so.

E.B: What are you studying?
J.K: Physics.

E.B: Physics is especially for smart guys. You must be a very smart Thai guy.
J.K: No, not at all.

The third result pattern indicates that two types of compliment response, namely, “smiling (laughing)” and “no response” were used by the Thai subjects in this study but they did not exist in American subjects’ responses. The “smiling strategy” as a response to compliments seems to come from Thai culture, which is less open to expressing compliments. It also allows the addressees to avoid acceptance of compliments, which can be regarded as self-praise, i.e. overt acceptance of a compliment refers to admiring oneself, which is not appropriate in the Thai culture. Moreover, the function of smiling in Thai culture is to lessen embarrassment and tension between interlocutors. Thai subjects might have regarded the compliments put forth to them as insincere, or they might have felt embarrassed, since the interviewer was a stranger to them. Therefore, instead of saying “no”, Thai speakers would simply smile to the complimenter without any linguistic elaboration. Not surprisingly, the complimenter sometimes felt that she was the subject of flirtation when she saw a smile from the complimentee. This made her feel uncomfortable. Supportive examples are as follows:

E.B: So, you brought this from Thailand?
S.J: You like it?
E.B: I like it.
S.J: Um…(smiling with shrugging)
E.B: I like the color.
S.J: (smiling)
E.B: You’ve got a good taste.
A.L: (laughing)

Besides smiling (laughing), the other response type used only by Thai subjects is “no response.” The reason why they did not give any indication or response to compliments might be related to their limited linguistic resources in English. The following example is typical:

E.B: What is your English name?
T.S: Teresa.
E.B: I think it’s a really beautiful name.
T.S: (no response)

Based on the results mentioned above, three interesting observations call for presentation. The first, as mentioned before, is that smiles have different functions in each culture. According to the Thai interviewees, the major functions of smiling, without any verbal elaboration as a compliment response strategy, in Thai culture is to lessen embarrassment and tension, so as not to threaten the face of the complimenter. Even though smiling can be understood to play the same role in American culture, it is less likely to be used as a response to the compliments. In other words, American subjects in this study did smile and laugh when responding to the compliments, but they also elaborated their response verbally without exception.

The second observation is that the Thai and American subjects interpreted the purpose of compliments differently. Compliments function as the initiator of a new conversation in American culture (Wolfson, 1989). In this study, American subjects tended to continue the conversation by elaborating their responses or asking questions of the interviewer based on the aspect being complimented, whereas the Thai subjects did not tend to ask questions after being complimented. Since Thai subjects tended to wait for the next question after responding to a compliment, the interviewer usually had to bring up a new topic in order to keep the conversation from breaking down. Therefore, it seems that the compliment speech act in American society is treated as an initiator of conversations or a tool for continuing or expanding them, whereas it is a separated simple unit of interchange in Thai society. Furthermore, the frequency of compliment behaviors tends to be much lower in Thai culture than in American culture. Therefore, a compliment cannot function as an initiator of conversation in Thai society. This study shows that Thai learners of English tend to transfer the pragmatics of Thai complimenting to their use of English language interactions.

The last interesting observation in this study is that some American subjects tended to “return” the compliments right after being complimented, whereas none of the Thai subjects did. A typical pattern of compliment return by Americans is as follows:

E.B: Do you make up?
T.N: I make up what?
E.B: Well…
T.N.: Oh, yes, I wear make-up. Yes, I had my make-up on. This is very
obvious, yes…
E.B: Not very obvious. A little bit….I like the way you wear a make-up.
T.N: Oh, thank you.
E.B: Looks so good on you.
T.N: Oh, thank you (laughing)
E.B: Oh, I mean it.
T.N: Ah-hah, you look good, too, with your lipstick.

Research Question 2: Does gender difference affect the compliment response patterns of male and female subjects?
In response to the second research question, the results are shown in Table 2 below.

Table 2 Different response strategies used by different gender of two ethnic groups: Thai Females vs. Males, and American Females vs. Males

Note: The numerals are the percentages of the total number of responses in each strategy divided by the total number of all responses in all strategies: 68 responses for the Thai group (36 given by females and 32 by males) and 74 responses for the American group (40 given by females and 34 by males). The reliability coefficient (alpha) of the Thai data is 0.8341 and that of the American data is 0.8998.
Statistically, the results show that the responses given by American females are well related to those given by American males (X2 = 21.8925, p < .0005), suggesting that gender does play a significant role in Americans’ responding to English compliments. Likewise, the results from the Thai group show that females’ responses are well related to males’ responses (X2 = 51.0189, p < .0001), indicating that there is a significant difference between Thai females’ and males’ responses. In the light of these results, it is concluded that gender plays a significant role in responding to English compliments among both native speakers and nonnative speakers. In addition, a significant relationship is found between responses by Thai females and those by American females (X2 = 43.1063, p < .0001), and between responses by Thai males and those by American males (X2 = 49.0949, p <.0001). Hence, the results show the strong effects of both culture and gender on responding to a compliment.

For a better picture, six major differences are descriptively reported as follows. First, American females use acceptance as a response type far more often than American males (57:37), but Thai males use acceptance responses slightly more frequently than Thai females (50:45). In addition, for positive elaboration, Thai females use many positive elaboration responses, while males use none (10:0). On the contrary, American males use many more positive elaboration responses than females do (37:24). Third, Thai males tend to use neutral elaboration and negative elaboration more often than Thai females do (18:10 and 14:5, respectively). However, it is American females who use negative elaboration more often than American males do (14:6).

Another interesting result is that Thai males give no positive elaboration but many denial responses, while Thai females give no denial but several positive elaboration responses. These seem to reflect the social status of men and women in the Thai culture. As the interviewer is a female, it is plausible that Thai males are not hesitant to show their power over her.

The results also show a noticeable difference in denial responses between females and males. None of the Thai or American females used denial response to the compliments, while 14% of Thai males’ responses and 10% of American males’ responses fall into this category. The generalization seems to be that denial responses are not likely to be used by female complimentees, whereas they would be used more often by male complimentees. This can be explained by Brown and Levinson’s “face” – public self-image – in their Politeness Theory. Since the absence of compliment responses often leads to situations that threaten the positive face (the need to be approved) of complimenters, it is important for complimentees responding to the compliments to minimize the sense of threat. Therefore, the female subjects in both ethnic groups seem to regard the denial response pattern as an inappropriate option.

The last interesting finding is that Thai females use the non-verbal response (smile), while the American females do not. Additionally, only the Thai females give no response. One-fourth of the total responses by Thai females are classified as smiling without any verbal elaboration, whereas only four percent of responses by Thai males fall into this category. This seems to come from the Thai culture, which requires people to be modest and humble. This might be more strongly imposed on Thai females than males. Although none of the American females and males smile to the complimenter as a response to compliments, none of them are quiet and fail to give any response, either – they always respond in some way.

Nonetheless, it should be noted that people may respond differently to a compliment, depending on a number of factors other than culture and gender. The factors include social status (high vs. low) of the interlocutors, social distance (friends, acquaintances, or strangers), age, language proficiency, and situations. Clearly, this is an area that calls for further study.

In a nutshell, when sociocultural norms from one culture are brought to bear on another, the result can sometimes be misinterpretation and offence. The overall findings of this study reveal significant differences in responses to English compliments by American and Thai subjects. It confirms previous findings that language and culture are closely related. However, the study brings up three interesting points. The first is a question of whether non-native speakers should follow the proverb “When in Rome do as the Romans do”, and leave their traditions or habits behind, or whether they should strongly hold on to their ethnic identity. The second is a question of whether the majority’s awareness of the cultural differences is awakened. Perhaps just being aware that people of different backgrounds have different automatic responses to compliments and other social interactions makes us better communicators. The key is how this can be accomplished. Besides, who should do the learning – the Roman or the guests?

In the pedagogical field, the study suggests that language and culture should not be taught separately. Compliments and compliment responses have many functions in English, thus, EFL teachers should show the learners how to appropriately respond to an English compliment.

Teaching Implications
The information regarding compliment/response patterns given above, together with examples taken from printed materials, the Internet and movies, should provide a useful tool for a teacher of English to raise students’ awareness of cultural similarities and differences between compliment/response patterns in Thai culture and English culture. The conflicting patterns may require an explanation, as an inappropriate response to a compliment can cause communication breakdown or offence. In ordinary situations, students are expected to return a response to a compliment in English, as silence leads to communication breakdown. By the same token, students should learn to pay compliments, as it is a simple way to create friendship, receive help, or reach a business goal. A rule of thumb for this is that a compliment needs to be sincere, so eye contact between interlocutors is essential.

Teaching Activities Recommended
Effective activities of teaching these aspects of language and culture include student research projects (e.g. movie studies), role-plays, mingling activities, and Internet search. A teacher may select any activity applicable to his/her classroom.

The first teaching activity suggested here involves a student’s mini-project, in which each student has to observe and analyze compliment/response patterns used by English native speakers and Thai native speakers in either real or realistic situations. This project can be done via movie observations or interviews, the procedure of which is explained in the study above. Students may categorize what they observe into the patterns shown in this article, and then discuss the similarities and differences found. This way, students learn not only to better comprehend English but also to capture the culture associated with it.

The second activity is role playing, where compliment/response patterns can be integrated such cultural exchanges as apologies and refusals. Students may work independently in groups of four, and write a script that tells their own story, and then perform the play in class. It is obligatory that the story include the cultural exchanges they have been taught. The teacher can decide how many times s/he wants them to appear in the story. Supervision and feedback should be available for the students. This activity helps students learn to think, act, and observe their peers’ interactions. Small rewards for the best actor and the best actress selected by the audience may be offered in order to encourage all students to work harder and to intentionally watch the plays.

Another plausible teaching tool is a “mingling activity”. Two groups of an equal number of students stand in two circles, one inside the other. Students in both groups should face each other. Each student in the inner circle is required to honestly compliment his/her interlocutor in the outer group in English and the interlocutor should respond appropriately. After that, each student in the inner group steps aside to the left (or right) in order to meet another interlocutor. Note that the outer group stays put. The same process should be repeated until a student meets all of the interlocutors. Then, students in both groups switch roles. This enables students to repetitively practice praising and responding to a compliment.

The last activity suggested here requires Internet access. Students can search for more information regarding compliment/response patterns in English and other languages via the Internet. Then they may write a report on English cultural aspects or intercultural communication that interested them.

Finally, at the end of any activity, learners can brainstorm to find out when, where, and how to use what they have just learned with foreigners in a non-English speaking country like Thailand.

To conclude, students should be taught to feed themselves, instead of being fed at all the time. Specifically, they should be on the alert to find more information about the cultural backgrounds of their interlocutors, for those who speak English do not always have or realize the culture of English native speakers. Here is some food for thought: “In Japan people smile when they are sad, happy, apologetic, angry, or confused. In traditional Korean culture, smiling meant that a person was foolish or thoughtless. On the island of Puerto Rico, a smile can have many positive meanings: “Please”, “Thank you”, and “You’re welcome” (Tanka and Baker, 2002, p. 313).

In summary, language is a dance to the music of culture. Dance steps and the music they go with convey more than just rhythm and joy – they also help the dancers negotiate a relationship. We must teach language relative to culture.

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Foreword – June 2006 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/2014/01/09/foreword-june-2006/ Thu, 09 Jan 2014 02:08:33 +0000 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/www2/2014/01/09/foreword-june-2006/ June 2006. Volume 2


John Adamson, Ed.D.
Senior Associate Editor

The June edition of The Linguistics Journal presents four articles on a variety of themes. Congratulations to the authors who have successfully negotiated the review procedure.

The first piece is from Thailand, entitled “Thai and American Responses to Compliments in English” by Dr. Payung Cedar from Naresuan University. This study investigates responses to compliments among American and Thai students at university in the U.S. Specifically, this research looks at the sociocultural knowledge of Thai-speaking learners, asking whether there are differences with their American counterparts, and also if gender plays a role in such responses. Using Chiang and Pochtrager’s (1993) categories of compliment response for interview data, Cedar finds a significant effect of gender on compliment responses in both groups.

The second study “A Critical Discourse Analysis of Euphemization and Derogation in Emails on the late Pope” is by Mr. Ali Rahimi and Dr. Rahman Sahragard from Shiraz University in Iran. Taking a framework of analysis from van Dijk (2004), Rahimi and Sahargard investigate the “discursive structures which lead to ideologically based parochial, prejudiced as well as antireligious statements” in emails addressing the death of the late Pope, John Paul II. The use of CDA is, as the authors reveal, a means to show how “language has been used as a shield and weapon to support austere catholic ideologies or, conversely, to instil secular viewpoints.”

The next piece is by Professor Z. N. Patil from the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages in Hyderabad, India, entitled “On the Nature and Role of English in Asia.” Patil looks at the global spread of English in Asia and categorises the stances of scholars into two camps diametrically opposed to each other. One camp views the multiple variations of English as “symptoms of linguistic degeneration and deterioration” while the other sees them as “inevitable manifestations necessitated by the demands of the new cultural contexts.” He concludes that Asian specialists need to “prioritize the teaching of national and regional varieties over that of the so-called native varieties.”

The final article in this edition, “Corpus Linguistics and the Study of Meaning in Discourse” comes from Dr. Nelya Koteyko at the University of Birmingham. Koteyko looks at how corpus linguistics contributes to the study of meaning in discourse, specifically the “historically-oriented ‘genealogical’ analysis of discourse in the tradition of Foucault.” The discussion focuses on how corpora “compiled according to a set of pre-determined criteria” can help in understanding lexical meaning within certain discourse communities.

We hope these four articles are of interest to the readers of The Linguistics Journal. Your comments and your own submissions are most welcome.


Volume 2. Issue 2. June 2006

PDF E-Book Version pps. 1-155 View

Foreword by Dr. John Adamson.

PDF E-book version pps. 1-155 View

1. Payung Cedar. Thai and American Responses to Compliments in English 
2. Ali Rahimi and Rahman Sahragard. A Critical Discourse Analysis of Euphemization and Derogation in Emails on the Late Pope
3. Patil. Z.N. On the Nature and Role of English in Asia
4. Nelya Koteyko. Corpus Linguistics and the Study of Meaning in Discourse

Chinese Learners and English Plural Forms https://www.linguistics-journal.com/2014/01/09/chinese-learners-and-english-plural-forms/ Thu, 09 Jan 2014 01:56:38 +0000 https://www.linguistics-journal.com/www2/2014/01/09/chinese-learners-and-english-plural-forms/ November 2006. Volume 1 Issue 3

Chinese Learners and English Plural Forms

Liu Jing, Evie Tindall and Deanna Nisbet
Regent University, Virginia, U.S.A

Bio Data:

Liu Jing (American version: Jing Liu) is a doctoral fellow in the School of Education at Regent University. She was an assistant professor at Henan University in China. Her academic background includes teaching Japanese, English, and Chinese as a second language. Her present research interests include second language acquisition, learner autonomy in language learning, and technology in language learning.

Dr. Evie Tindall is an associate professor who teaches in the TESOL program in the School of Education at Regent University. Her areas of expertise include reading and language arts, special populations, and teacher collaboration. Dr. Tindall has extensive experience as a teacher, consultant, and conference speaker.

Dr. Deanna Nisbet is an assistant professor and director of the TESOL program in the School of Education at Regent University. She has more than 15 years’ experience teaching at the community college, undergraduate and graduate levels. Prior to entering the teaching profession, she worked in the fields of human resource development and marketing. Dr Nisbet’s areas of expertise include first and second language acquisition and literacy for second language learners.

Article: PDF version

Many Chinese students experience difficulty with the use of plural forms in English. The authors of this article explore this phenomenon by examining features of Chinese and English that may affect plural formation, highlighting specific areas of challenge for Chinese learners, and presenting an array of recommended instructional resources.

Key words: Chinese learners, plural forms, EFL, ESL, instructional practices

Learning, including learning a second or foreign language, is influenced by students’ prior knowledge (Brown, 2000). In the case of Chinese students learning English, prior knowledge of Chinese language patterns may notably affect their acquisition of English (Brown, 2000; Lightbown & Spada, 1999; Odlin, 2003). Language transfer, or the incorporation of patterns from the native language into the target language, is a common source of errors among learners of a second or foreign language (Brown, 2000; Lightbown & Spada, 1999). While by no means the only source of learner errors, language transfer often plays a significant role (Lightbown & Spada, 1999).

As reported by Jia (2003), one area where language transfer is particularly prevalent among Chinese learners is the formation of English plurals. Moreover, in a study analyzing English errors of Chinese learners, Mohamed, Lian, and Eliza (2004) pinpoint the misuse of singular and plural forms as one of the errors. This phenomenon may spring from different morphological and syntactic features between Chinese and English. Grammatically, Chinese is not as complex as English in that it possesses little of what is traditionally known in European languages as inflectional morphology (Norman, 1988). Instead, as Norman further indicates, word order, particles, and prepositions carry most of the grammatical roles in Chinese. In contrast, English is an inflectional language, in which prefixes or suffixes play a significant grammatical role (Fromkin & Rodman, 1998).

This article explores the challenges that Chinese students encounter in the formation of English plurals. To this end, the authors (a) examine linguistic features of Chinese and English that may affect plural formation in English, (b) highlight specific areas of challenge for Chinese learners, and (c) present an array of recommended instructional practices.

Aspects of the Chinese Language that Affect the Formation of Plurals in English
To better understand the challenges Chinese students encounter when forming English plurals, some background pertaining to the writing system and structure of both languages is essential.

Writing system. According to Chen (1999), the earliest reliable records of Chinese date back more than 3000 years ago in the form of oracle bone script. From the very beginning, Chinese writing shows its pictographic origin (Norman, 1988). In other words, written Chinese is ideographic, consisting of an individual character or ideogram for every syllable, with each character representing an object or idea rather than a sound. English, on the other hand, is phonographic, with written symbols representing discrete sounds.

It is important to note that the Chinese language, although ideographic, does have a means of representing its sound system in written form. However, this system, Pinyin, is used only as a means of indicating pronunciation. In the Chinese school curriculum, Pinyin is usually taught in the last stage of kindergarten or the first stage of elementary school. After children acquire knowledge of the Chinese sound system, they quickly move on to learning characters, which constitute the Chinese writing system.

Morphological and syntactic structure. English and Chinese belong to different language families. English is classified as an Indo-European language, whereas Chinese is of the Sino-Tibetan family (Fromkin & Rodman, 1998). A distinctive characteristic of Sino-Tibetan languages is monosyllabism, which means that each morpheme is represented by a syllable (Ho, 1997). However, in modern Chinese, according to Chao (1968), words have become dissyllabic or polysyllabic. Specifically, separate words are often joined together to make new meanings. Frequently, when words are linked, the resultant word is idiomatic, having a different meaning than its individual elements. For example, the word, dian bing xiang (电冰箱, which means refrigerator, is composed of three words dian (电) electricity, bing (冰) ice, and xiang (箱) box.

Additionally, Chinese grammar is less morphologically complex than English grammar (Li & Thompson, 1981). Chinese characters are invariable in structure and allow no internal changes (Ho, 1997). Thus, grammatical functions and word meaning cannot be indicated through inflectional or derivational changes as in English. Instead, Chinese uses word order or functional words to realize grammatical roles. For example, the character le(了 )is used to indicate that an action has been completed (similar to the perfect tense or past tense in English), as illustrated in the following sentences: Zuo tian wo qu le Zhongshan Gong Yuan. (昨天我去了中山公园). I went to Zhongshan Park yesterday. Similarly, the character zhe 着)indicates a continual action or state. This is seen in the following sentence: Ta men zheng tan zhe hua ne(他们正谈着话呢). They are having a talk just now.

In sum, two aspects of the Chinese language that are pertinent to the formation of English plurals are the ideographic writing system and the morphological and syntactic structure of the language. These aspects are markedly different from those of English. Understandably, when Chinese students grapple with the incongruence in these two linguistic systems, problems can arise. Specifically, the use of plural forms presents challenges to many Chinese students learning English.

Plural Forms in Chinese and English
Chinese plural forms. As previously noted, the Chinese language does not use inflections to realize grammatical functions. Rather, Chinese is highly contextual. For this reason, the formation of plurals involves a certain degree of ambiguity. To illustrate, the sentence, shu xia you tu zi (树下有兔子), can be translated as (a) There is a rabbit under the tree, (b) There are rabbits under the tree, or (c) There are rabbits under the trees. The meaning must be derived from the greater context, or the clues in the overall discourse.

While this reliance on context may appear to the non-speaker of Chinese to be imprecise, there are many instances where the context precisely indicates the plural form. An example is as follows: Yi xie xue sheng zai jiao shi li, lao shi zheng gei xue sheng jiang yi ge gu shi. (一些学生在教室里, 老师正给学生讲一个故事). Literally these two sentences are translated, *There aresome student in the classroom. Teacher is telling a story to student. In the first sentence, the determiner, some, is used to indicate that there is more than one student. However, in the second sentence, there is no determiner. It is expected that the reader will naturally understand the plural meaning of the word student because of the context already established within the previous sentence. Thus, context is a primary means of addressing the plural form in Chinese.

However, plurals can be formed in two other ways. First, the use of a numeral or a determiner in front of a noun denotes the plural meaning. Examples include the following: wu zhang zhuo zi(五张桌子 *five desk) and na xie xue sheng (那些学生 *those student). Second, the addition of the morpheme -men to certain types of words can also indicate the formation of a plural. This is illustrated in the following words: lao shi men (老师们teachers), ren men (人们people), hai zi men (孩子们children), wo men (我们we or us). As seen in the aforementioned examples, the morpheme –men(们)is used primarily in conjunction with nouns pertaining to people. One restriction regarding the use of this morpheme is as follows: If there is a numeral that indicates a plural form before the noun, -men (们)cannot be used; for example, san ge lao shi men *三个老师们three teacher + plural marker -men) is not correct. Thus, this means of forming plurals is somewhat limited. It should be noted that in this regard it is not equivalent to the English plural morpheme -s or -es.

English plural forms. As with the Chinese language, English addresses plural forms in a number of ways. English is a language in which inflectional morphemes are used to show grammatical relationships (Klammer, Schulz, & Volpe, 2004). Klammer, Schulz, and Volpe list eight inflectional morphemes, one of which is the plural morpheme. However, because of the arbitrary nature of the English language, plural formation involves more than just adding a plural morpheme. Specifically, English plurals can be formed through (a) the addition of the morpheme –s or –es, (b) the changing of one or more internal vowels, (c) the use of the same form for singular and plural, and (d) the application of the rules of foreign plural nouns to English words (see Table 1).

Most plural nouns in English are formed by adding the morpheme -s or –es (Azar, 1999). Therefore, the use of -s and -es is pervasive and somewhat rule-governed. It is widely known that –es is used for words ending in ch, sh, ss, x, or z; however, exceptions exist. Table 1 provides a summary of some common rules for plural formation involving -s and -es.

Common Rules of Plural Formation Examples Some Exceptions to the Rules
When a noun ends in a consonant + y, change the y to i and add –es

factory – factories

baby – babies

When y is preceded by a vowel, add only –s

guy – guys

boy – boys

When y is preceded by a vowel, add only –s

potato – potatoes

tomato – tomatoes

memos, kilos, pianos, photos, solos 
Note: For some English words, the plural form can be either –s, or –es:
zero – zeros/zeroes,

volcano – volcanos/volcanoes

When a noun ends in a vowel + o, add –s.

zoo – zoos, bamboo – bamboos, radio – radios

When a noun ends in f, or fe, change the f orfe to v, and add –s

wife – wives, shelf-shelves,

knife – knives

beliefs, roofs, chiefs, roofs
When a noun ends inch, sh, ss, x, or z, add-es.

lunch – lunches
wish – wishes

box – boxes


Adapted from Bo (1998)

Another means of forming plurals involves changing one or more internal vowels. Some examples include man-men, mouse-mice, and goose-geese. Interestingly, some plurals involve no change at all. In other words, for some lexical items, the singular and plural forms are exactly the same. This is illustrated in the words deer, sheep, and fish. Finally, because English incorporates words from other languages, some English plurals are formed according to the rules of these languages, as in the case of criterion–criteria, basis– bases, and stimulus–stimuli.

As depicted in Table 2, Chinese and English are distinctly different in regard to the formation of plural nouns.

Table 2
The Formation of Plurals in Chinese and English

Chinese English
The use of a numeral before a noun The addition of the morpheme –sor –es
The use of a determiner before a noun The changing of one or more internal vowel(s)
The use of a suffix –menafter a person-related noun The use of the same form for singular and plural
The contextual indication of a plural meaning The application of the rules of foreign plurals to English words

Understanding these fundamental differences between the two language systems is essential to Chinese students learning to form English plurals. Yet, this alone is not enough. In order to master the nuances of plural formation, Chinese students must also have a thorough understanding of the concept of count and non-count nouns. The matter of count and non-count nouns will be explored further in the next section of this article as the authors address areas of challenge related to English plural forms.

Areas of Challenge
Omission of the morpheme -s/-es. Initially, Chinese learners of English may omit the morpheme -s/-es. To illustrate, phrases such as * three student, * five desk, and*ten apple commonly occur in the beginning and intermediate stages of learning English. As previously noted, students may make these types of errors because they are applying rules from their native language to the formation of plurals in English. In this case, ESL/EFL teachers should emphasize the need to add -s or -es to the end of nouns referring to more than one thing (i.e., count nouns). Once students master this concept, they will be able to accurately form many English plurals.

Over-generalization of rules. English rules tend to be fraught with exceptions, and this is certainly the case with plural forms. As students progress, they encounter the arbitrary nature of English inflections. A problem that emerges at this stage is over-generalization of rules. To illustrate, students may use gooses instead of geese, or deersin place ofdeer. Most English teachers recognize the omission of the morpheme -s/-es and the over-generalization of rules as areas of difficulty faced by many beginning and intermediate students in regard to the use of plural forms. However, they may not anticipate that advanced learners may also make systematic errors. The source of these errors, in many cases, can be traced back to the matter of count and non-count nouns.

Count and non-count nouns. Simply put, count nouns are those that can be enumerated or counted. Examples include desk, tree, and chair. On the other hand, non-count nouns are mass nouns, which do not normally occur in the plural form. They often refer to abstractions and carry a collective meaning. Examples include love, honesty, luggage,and water. In a broad sense, the terms count and non-count nouns are conceptualized in the same way in English and Chinese. However, differences exist in how individual lexical items are categorized. For example, some items classified as count nouns in Chinese are classified as non-count nouns in English. Specific examples include furniture, baggage, luggage, mail, bread, and chalk. Because of this discrepancy, Chinese students may tend to make the following types of errors.
*There are a lot of good furnitures in his house.
*I got two mails today.
*I had two breads today.
*There are three chalks on the desk.

Further, in Chinese, most nouns that are considered count nounsare preceded by a classifier, and most nouns viewed as non-count nounsare preceded by a measure word. This is illustrated below.
A: san zhang yizi (三张椅子three + classifier + chair)
English: three chairs
wu ge xuesheng (五个学生five + classifier + student)
English: five students
B: liang bei kafei (两杯咖啡two + measure word + coffee)
English: two cups of coffee
san wan shui (三碗水three + measure word + water)
English: three bowls of water

Thus, in general, classifiers signal count nouns and measure words signal non-count nouns. No such consistently clear distinction is present in English. This can be a source of confusion for Chinese learners. In the case of advanced learners, a problem arises with words that are not visible or tangible, and do not require a classifier or a measure word. These words are usually abstract, and they are considered non-count nouns in the Chinese language. Some examples include desire, feeling, smell, cost, sound, attitude, congratulation, blessing, laugh, thought, difficulty, gain, and strength. The problem is that in English, these words may be used as either count or non-count nouns, depending on the context. Understandably, this blurred distinction can be confusing for Chinese learners of English. The following sentences taken from one advanced learner’s writing depict this confusion regarding classification of count and non-count nouns.
*Congratulation on your graduation.
*There is some strange sound in the sky.
*I have mixed feeling about going home.

To further explore this phenomenon, consider the English sentence, “I have mixed feelings about going home.” In this construction, there is no classifier to indicate that the word feeling is a count noun. Thus, Chinese students may tend to drop the plural morpheme –s, particularly if they view feeling as an abstract concept, which their prior knowledge of Chinese would lead them to do. In short, even for advanced learners, pre-conceptualizations concerning the classification of count and non-count nouns in Chinese may markedly affect their acquisition of plural forms in English. Table 3 highlights some examples of the distinct differences between Chinese and English in terms of count and non-count nouns.

Table 3
Count and Non-count Nouns: Examples of Distinct Differences

Type of Noun English Classification Source of Difficulty for Chinese Learners
Nouns that have a collective meaning such asfurniture, mail, andjewelry

These nouns are classified as non-count.
Under each category, the individual piece is usually a count noun, such as bed, letter,and ring.

There is no distinction between the collective meaning and individual parts in Chinese.  The wordsfurniture, mail, andjewelry could be perceived as count nouns. 
Nouns that are not visible or tangible (abstract nouns)

These may be classified as either count or non-count,depending on the context. Examples include difficulty, talk, light, andsound.

These words are perceived to be non-count nouns in Chinese. 

It is noteworthy that there is a distinction between spoken English and written English in terms of the use of plural forms. Carter (2004) characterizes spoken English as spontaneous and immediate, noting that it allows only limited planning and thinking time. He concludes that written discourses tend to be more structured and organized, whereas talk can appear rather loose and fragmented. For this reason, generally speaking, Chinese students show more accurate use of plural forms in writing than in speaking.

Recommended Instructional Practices

As noted throughout this article, many Chinese learners encounter challenges in regard to the formation of English plurals. Knowing this, teachers can anticipate difficulties and support students’ learning of English plural forms through various instructional practices. The following instructional recommendations are a compilation of (a) the results of a survey of instructional practices of experienced ESL/EFL teachers who work closely with Chinese students; (b) literature on second language acquisition, learner autonomy, and teaching methodology for English language learners; and (c) the personal and professional experience of one of the authors as an English language learner and scholar.

1. Teach key differences in forming plurals between Chinese and English.

To assist Chinese students with the task of mastering English plurals, teachers can acquaint them with information regarding major differences between the way plurals are formed in the two languages. In doing this, teachers should begin with what students know about their native language and then address the differences in plural formation in English. This “known to unknown” instructional sequence (Carnine, Silbert, Kame’enui, & Tarver, 2004) has both an affective and cognitive impact. It not only engages students’ interest and builds their confidence, but also initiates the construction of new linguistic schemata for the formation of plurals in English. A visual as seen in Table 3 can be used to support the teaching and learning of the differences in plural formation between Chinese and English.

2. Teach English rules for plural formation.

Although English rules for forming plurals are replete with exceptions, many hold true for a high percentage of words. Direct teaching of rules (Zhang, 2003) should be accompanied by student practice in meaningful contexts using all of the language modes. This includes conversations in small groups, reading extensively in English with a focus on plural forms, and writing using plural forms. Another recommendation for teaching plural rules is to categorize words according to the different rules. Materials from Azar (1999) and Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik (1985) provide rich resources for teaching the categorizing strategy. Finally, the use of a graphic organizer of commonly-known English plural rules can enhance learning and retention (see Table 1).

3. Teach the commonalities and the distinct differences between Chinese and English regarding count and non-count nouns.

Because the matter of count and non-count nouns is particularly difficult for many Chinese students, more teaching and practice time should be allotted to this aspect of plural formation. Teachers can begin by introducing count and non-count nouns when they present vocabulary. Additionally, teachers are encouraged to use the strategies described in the previously-presented recommendations (#1 and 2 above) for the teaching of count and non-count nouns as well. These strategies include (a) the “known to unknown” instructional sequence, (b) the categorizing strategy, (c) practice employing all the language modes, and (d) a graphic organizer (see Table 3).

4. Teach students language learning strategies with an emphasis on learning vocabulary

Language learning strategy instruction has been a major area of focus among first and second language educators since the 1970s. Language learning strategies are defined as “specific actions taken by the learner to make learning faster, more enjoyable, more self-directed, more effective, and more transferable to new situations” (Oxford, 1990, p. 8). In a review of the literature regarding Chinese students’ use of language learning strategies, Zhang (2003) reports that good language learners use more and better strategies for learning vocabulary. These strategies include doing vocabulary exercises, making associations, guessing, using context clues, classifying, memorizing, and consulting a dictionary. A key recommendation provided by Zhang is that teachers consciously guide students in the use of a variety of different strategies for learning vocabulary.

5. Teach students to use a variety of resources when encountering unknown or confusing plural forms. Because an important focus of all instruction is to develop independent learners, the introduction of resources that support learner autonomy is essential (Dickinson, 1992; Little, 1991; Little, 1996; Oxford, 1990; Wenden, 1991). For those instances when students encounter unknown or confusing English plural forms, the following three instructional resources are recommended: (a) the self-questioning strategy, (b) the dictionary, and (c) informational technology. To begin, teachers can directly teach the use of the self-questioning strategy. This is an overarching strategy in that it encompasses all three of the aforementioned resources. Specifically, this strategy provides students with a systematic problem-solving process to use when encountering unknown or confusing plurals. The self-questioning strategy includes the following three steps.

  • What do I already know about plural forms? Does this word match a rule, or fit into a category that I already know?
  • How can I find out more about this plural form? What is the most efficient way to learn about this word? Should I use a dictionary or informational technology?
  • What is my strategy for remembering this plural form? How will I remember what I have learned about this word? What is my personal strategy?

A second instructional resource for learning about English plural forms is the dictionary. Teachers should focus on teaching students how to be strategic in their use of this resource. One example of strategic use is employing the dictionary when seeking initial understanding of plural forms in English. Specifically, Chinese students can use an English-Chinese dictionary to identify count and non-count nouns. Usually, the letter c is placed after a count noun, and the letter u is placed after a non-count noun. As students progress in language learning, they should be encouraged to move beyond dependence on the dictionary to developing their own strategies for classifying and retaining the information as well as utilizing informational technology.
Informational technology is a third instructional resource. This resource provides an abundant array of information for students. Any grammatical topic is readily available on the internet. For example, typing English plural forms on the Google search engine yields numerous grammatical guides on this topic. Learners can also take advantage of word processing tools on a computer. Specifically, attending to writing on a computer screen supports learning about correct English plural forms. This is particularly true for beginning and intermediate learners who are learning the rules for English plural forms and may overgeneralize the rules that they have learned. For example, if one writes, “There are three bird in the tree,” the incorrect plural form is identified by a wavy green line under the word bird. If one writes, “I bought five potatos today,” a wavy red line automatically signals the incorrect use of plural formation. In this case, one can choose the right word by putting the cursor on the incorrect word and right clicking. Finally, using the spelling and grammar check at the end of any writing assignment is another means of addressing and correcting problems with plural forms.
5. Teach students to develop their own resources.

In the process of learning English, most students receive oral and/or written feedback from their teachers, friends, and native English speakers. Efficient English learners try not to make the same mistake twice. Teachers can encourage students to self-monitor their use of plural forms and record, correct, and categorize their own errors. By doing this, students create their own tailor-made resources. In order to monitor their progress, students should type all the sentences with the errors and categorize the errors in a word document. Students can highlight the corrected area(s), and then at the end of the sentence, put a comment or two in parentheses regarding the error(s). To illustrate, the following entry would be placed under the category of adding -s or -es toEnglish nouns.

I am also well trained to find scholarly resources by using library databases and other Internet tools.
(I need to add s. There is more than one database).
Note that the student typed the sentence under the correct category, marked the plural form, and made a comment at the end of the sentence. Students should revisit the document regularly, review their errors, and check the efficacy of their strategies for correction and retention. This method can be used not only for plural forms, but also for other common errors in learning English.

Prior knowledge of Chinese language patterns may notably influence Chinese learners’ acquisition of English. Language transfer, or the incorporation of forms from the native language into the target language, is one major source of errors among learners of a second or foreign language. One area where language transfer is particularly prevalent among Chinese learners is the formation of English plurals. This article provides an overview of the linguistic features of Chinese and English that may affect formation of English plural forms and pinpoints three major sources of difficulty for many Chinese students. To address these highlighted areas, the authors have recommended a number of instructional practices. The primary focus of these practices is to develop independent language learners. Specifically, teachers can use the foundational information and the five instructional practices presented in this article to equip Chinese learners to be strategic and resourceful as they address the challenges of English plural forms.

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