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Janet Ainsworth

(Seattle University –

“How to do things with (taboo) words: cursing as a means of coercing compliance in police-citizen street interactions”

Not infrequently, police officers will curse—that is, use extremely vulgar or obscene language—in the course of their street encounters with citizens. This practice has been defended by some in  law enforcement as not only unobjectionable but as positively necessary to proper law enforcement. In this paper, I take an interdisciplinary approach to examining this discursive practice and its consequences. Sociolinguistic analysis of swearing and ethnographic accounts of police culture both point to the use of swearing in this context as a liminal performance of masculinity intended to signal dominance over others in the interaction. In addition to discussing the aggressive illocutionary force of police swearing, I will also consider the perlocutionary impact of police swearing on the person sworn at. Swearing—particularly by those in authority–is a powerful signal of role-transgression, and as such, signals the possibility of other forms of role-transgression as well, including the possible use of physical force against the suspect. Using a social interactionist framework,  I will suggest that police swearing in their encounters with members of the community is highly relevant in determining such legal issues as whether a suspect validly consented to a search or validly waived her right not to answer police questions. I will highlight US caselaw to suggest that legal doctrine currently gives inadequate attention to this problem.

Abdulrahman Alfahad

(King Saud University –

“Saudi interviews: moving towards aggressiveness”

Saudi media, both independent and state-owned channels, have often been accused of employing a soft approach to governmental performance and not constituting the public sphere or representing voices of opposition. However, the current paper examines empirically the interaction in interviews broadcast recently in Saudi Arabia to determine the extent to which the interviewers practiced an aggressive and oppositional style. To ensure that the study is less interpretive, the paper relies on the principles of conversation analysis and examines the format of the interviews more closely than the content. The result proves that question design, turn-taking, and forms of address all point in one direction; that is, some Saudi interviewers have taken up a noticeably aggressive approach that Saudi viewers did not witness prior to the Arab Spring.

Apart from the direct impact of the Arab uprising, this transition can also be linked to the increased influence of social media, which played a salient role in the Arab Spring. Several studies have shown that the number of Saudi activists who use social media has increased noticeably, and their use of social media is significant. Social media now rival the classical media, and what is classified as taboo or sensitive in the classical media has already been discussed and debated on the Internet. This new rival has put great pressure on the classical media to constitute the public sphere and represent the voices of opposition. Otherwise, the classical media will appear more gullible and less enterprising, and may even lose their audience.


 Elisa Alonso Jiménez

(Universidad Pablo de Olavide –

“Conflict in digital media: negotiation and management of translation projects”

This paper is aimed at exploring the ecosystem that surrounds the management of translation projects. More specifically, we will analyse the nature of communication among the actors involved in a translation project, and will outline the existing sources of conflict.

Our methodology approach, qualitative and interpretative, was based on two focus group sessions, of approximately one hour each, where a total of five professional translators participated. These professionals had been previously selected, in order to have a diverse sample in terms of sex, experience and specialisation. However, in all cases they were freelance translators or worked in relatively small translation agencies.

During the focus group sessions, we found that communication between clients-managers and translators was mainly virtual (e-mail and translation project portals). We also observed that there could be significant differences depending on whether the translation project was commissioned by direct clients (professionals or companies) or by translations agencies (also known as vendors). The translators reported that, very frequently, after accepting a translation project, they felt cheated by clients-managers, because apparently, they changed the amount of words to translate, deadlines, translation tools and even the texts to be translated are common practices. Some translators questioned the professionalism of managers and pointed to their lack of training. In line with the superskopos described by Alonso and Calvo (in press), some translators complained about the existence of very complicated instructions imposed by the client-manager. As a result of all these circumstances, a number of problems appeared in the management of the project, forcing a loop of continuous negotiation and renegotiation between translators and clients-managers.

This qualitative work, despite its limitations (its sample is relatively small and all the subjects were Spanish speakers), constitutes, in our view, an interesting source of information that could be used in further research. Not only doest it reveal particular features surrounding translation project management, but also outlines some challenges –such as lack of trust and prejudice- that could occur in all digital-based professional practices.


 Bistra Andreeva & Silvia Bonacchi

(B.A.: Saarland University –; S.B.: University of Warsaw –

“You mofu!/Du Arsch! Che merda! Ty zlamasie!: Derogatives or supportives? Some remarks about the illocutionary structure, the cultural relevance and the prosodic realization of utterances in banter-function (mock impoliteness and mock insults)”

The “Banter Principle” (s. Leech 1983: 142ff.) describes cases in which an offensive utterance (for example: EN: “You bastard!”) is not addressed by the speaker to the interlocutor with an offensive intention, but it is intended to be an expression of admiration which reinforces the relationship with the Addressee (Bonacchi 2013: 61f.). In addition, use of such language reinforces social ties, i.e. identity and a sense of affiliation to the group (Žegarac 1998, Mateo & Yus 2013). This special form of cooperation between Sender and Addressee which allows the success of such oblique communication requires a significant inferential effort (Sperber/Wilson 72002). The appropriate reconstruction of the meaning is quite unstable, since it depends on the conversational setting, on the relation of the speakers, on the mental presuppositions of the interlocutors, and on the mutual acceptance of the communicative means. A banter act as a face enhancing act can always switch into a face threating act or an aggressive act. This is the reason why banter acts need a complex multimodal realisation, in which nonverbal and paraverbal elements have a disambiguating function. This pilot study addressed this issue.

To investigate whether the ‘face-enhancing’ vs. ‘face-threatening’ meaning of an utterance correlates with the various acoustic cues of the speech signal in Polish, Italian and German we prepared some recordings with ‘offensive utterances’ both in insulting and in banter function. Segmentation and labelling with SAMPA with an additional label for the f0 peak and further processing was done using the Kiel XASSP speech signal analysis package. Measurements related to prosodic characteristics such as syllable rate, minimum, maximum, median and mean of the pitch and amplitude were extracted using praat scripts. The statistical significance of the relationship between the acoustic measures and the perceived ‘face-enhancing’ vs. ‘face-threatening’ meaning were calculated with t-tests and correlation tests for all utterance pairs.

Details of the experimental procedures relating to production and perception and the results of the statistical analyses of the data as well as some considerations regarding the cultural factors which have an influence on the realisation of these acts will be presented and discussed.


Bonacchi, S. (2013): (Un)Höflichkeit. Frankfurt et al.: Lang

Leech, G. (1983): Principles of Pragmatics. London et al.: Longman

Mateo, J./Yus, F. (2013): Towards a cross-cultural pragmatic taxonomy of insults. In: Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict 1 (1), 86-113.

Sperber, D./Wilson, D. (72002): Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Žegarac, V. (1998): What is ‘phatic communication’? In: Villy Rouchota/Andreas Jucker (Hg.): Current Issues in Relevance Theory. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 327–362.


Angela Ardington

(University of Sydney –

Gloves off on the parliamentary floor: Questions without notice in the House of Representatives”

Parliamentary debate as a rich ground for the study of interpersonal dynamics, adversarial discourse in particular, has generated interest in recent years (Bayley, 2004; Bull, 2008; Bull & Fetzer, 2010; Ilie, 2001, 2004). This research scrutinizes some key activities of government that are conducted through the linguistic behaviours of political actors. In Australia, Questions Without Notice is a daily parliamentary session (approximately one hour) following parliamentary sittings, in which the Prime Minister (PM) and MPs respond immediately to questions from both government and opposition MPs. The role of the opposition is to criticise government and offer alternative solutions. The role of the government is to account for its actions.

The aims of this paper are twofold. A primary aim of this paper is to investigate emotional aspects of parliamentary adversarial discourse. A second aim of this paper is to indicate how this adversarial forum, bound by established institutional norms, is not only concerned with providing information but can be characterised as the theatre of government that provides ‘confrontainment’ (Luginbühl, 2007) for nightly news bulletins or secures a headline for the next day’s newspapers. This research draws on Conversation Analysis (Schegloff, 2007) and politeness theory (Culpeper, 2005; Harris, 2001) this paper explores: 1) devices, strategies and sequential organisation of verbal aggression; 2) speaker’s performance style. Analysis of these data reveals how verbal aggression is exchanged in insult: response frames whilst observing the interactional norms of the situated discourse. Exchanges are mediated by the Speaker of the House. Data comprise extracts from 6 Hansard transcripts and video recordings from 13-20, November 2013. In this study 13 exchanges were analysed between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and other leading ministers: the Treasurer and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Initial findings reveal that these data exemplify a variety of face-attacking behaviours/ negative politeness strategies, (verbal and nonverbal): among them in/directness, inappropriate terms of address, and echoic structures (Norrick, 1994) that are condescending and ridicule others. It will be argued that respondents exploit emotional language and biting humour in ascribing blame and revoking responsibility.


Bayley, Paul. (Ed.), 2004. Cross-cultural perspectives on parliamentary discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Bull, Peter. E.  2008. Slipperiness, Evasion, and Ambiguity: Equivocation and Facework in Noncommittal Political Discourse. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 27, 333-44.

Bull, Peter. E., & Fetzer, Anita. 2010. Face, facework and political discourse.  International Review of Social Psychology, 23, 155-185.

Culpeper, Jonathan. 2005. ‘Impoliteness and entertainment in the television quiz show: ‘The Weakest Link’. Journal of Politeness Research, 1, (1), 35-72.

Harris, Sandra. 2001. ‘Being Politically Impolite: Extending Politeness Theory to Adversarial Political Discourse’, Discourse & Society 12, 451-72.

Ilie, Cornelia. 2001. Unparliamentary language: insults as cognitive forms of confrontation. In R. Dirven, R. Frank, & C. Ilie (Eds.), Language and Ideology, Vol. II. Descriptive cognitive Approaches, pp. 235-263. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Ilie, Cornelia. 2004. ‘Insulting as (un) parliamentary practice in the British and Swedish parliaments: A rhetorical approach’. In P. Bayley (Ed.). Cross Cultural Perspectives on Parliamentary Discourse, pp. 45-86. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Lugenbühl, Martin. 2007. Conversational violence in political TV debates: Forms and functions. Journal of Pragmatics, 39, 8:1371-1387.

Norrick, Neal. R. 1994. Repetition as a conversational joking strategy. In B. Johnstone (Ed.).  Repetition in Discourse Interdisciplinary Perspectives 2, pp.15-28. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Schegloff, Emanuel. A. 2007. Sequence Organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis 1. New York: Cambridge University Press.


 Elise Berman

(UNC Charlotte  –

Sociolinguistic negotiation of age: aggressive and direct speech among children in the Marshall Islands”

Children in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), as in many places, frequently use direct and aggressive speech with each other. I argue that when children in the RMI speak (or avoid speaking) aggressively they construct not only relative power relationships—something that other scholars of childhood have shown—but also relative age relationships both with each other and in respect to adults.  This role of conflict speech in the negotiation and construction of age differences has been largely overlooked because sociolinguistic work on childhood tends to focus either on socialization or on the production, through speech, of other identities such as gender or race. In contrast, I show how age itself is produced through speech. This analysis has significant consequences for our understanding of the relationship between aggression and language variation.


 Martina Berrocal

(Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena –

Victim playing as a form of verbal aggression in the Czech Parliament

As the central part of the political discourse is the struggle for power and scarce resources, conflict seems to be the essential component of the political interaction. Conflicts in Parliament have also many different manifestations. They range from disputes during the plenary sessions to more directly addressed attacks in the question time. This paper, however, examines an atypical display of parliamentary discourse, namely a speech on the occasion of the extradition of the social democratic MP David Rath on the June, 5 2012.

This speech obviously did not fulfil the primary function of the parliamentary sessions, i.e. legislating and decision-making. Here the MP was given the opportunity to present his own version of the events and ask for immunity before being extradited. The analysis of the strategies used by the MP shows that there are two basic tendencies shaping the whole speech. On the one hand the MP plays the victim. He aims at diverting attention while calling for sympathy and providing self-justification. On the other hand he uses some resources of verbal aggression which entail to undermine and disqualify a number of overt or covert enemies.

My analysis focuses primarily on the structural properties of the conflict and its patterns. The recurrent means to build up conflict are insistence, repetition, escalation and inversion. In addition, the analysis scrutinizes the types of persuasive and manipulative strategies, such as informal reasoning and analogy. The linguistic repertoire analyzed here encompasses as well other devices like sarcasm, irony, accusatory questions, questions with partial repetitions and substitutions and use of lexical and morphological items from spoken (substandard) Czech.


 Regina Blass

(Africa International University and University of North Dakota –

“Argumentative strengthening in conflict in the media: examples from Der Spiegel

In this paper I would like to highlight particular persuasive and manipulative means which I will call “argumentative strengthening mechanisms” as used in the media. These strengthening mechanisms are often in line with what Sperber and Mercier (2009:22) call “confirmation bias”. They claim that when people engage in a debate or argumentation in a conflict situation what they are out for is what is useful for them. So they confirm their views not seldom in a biased way. My claim will be that in order to ‘win’ in a conflict situation arguing parties engage in biased strengthening mechanisms.

When persuading someone, the communicator must be able to ‘defeat’ other individuals’ epistemic vigilance according to Sperber at al. 2010 and its filters, and maybe any other possible reticence to accept/believe some ideas. Some means to overcome this are strengthening mechanisms. Linguistically, they have the form of private and public metarepresentations which have an effect on the availability and non-availability of context to achieve the intended persuasive or manipulative cognitive effects. This is especially the case if the propositions put forward are not without doubt to the addressee. The communicator needs to overcome the vigilance of the addressee and will therefore apply all possible means to persuade. The more she fears not to succeed the more she will apply strengthening mechanisms to convince the addressee. Addressees on the other hand will be vigilant and not accept the communicator’s arguments without checking for internal and external consistency.

I have investigated these strengthening mechanisms in articles in German of the News Magazine “Der Spiegel” which portray conflict situations with very differing views. The result of my study has shown that biased argumentative strengthening is indicated with metarepresentations of report and propositional attitude which in turn may include evaluative phenomena in the sense of Hunston and Thompson (2000). These maybe judgemental biased expressions, including all kinds of figurative speech, such as metaphor, metonomy, irony, word play etc.

My analysis is based on Relevance Theory by Sperber and Wilson (1995), Wilson and Sperber (2012)


 Monika Bogdanowska & Ewa Bogdanowska-Jakubowska

(M.B.: University of Silesia –; E.B.J.: University of Silesia –

“Aggression and impoliteness in political discourse”

The political stage is an area where social interaction is dominated by self-presentational goals of particular political actors who realize them at the expense of their opponents. One’s own political interests and the want of power are the main motives of behaviour. That is why driven by these motives, when confronted with their opponents in public debates, or when asked to make a comment on their opponents’ actions, politicians often resort to verbal aggression, “behavior designed to cause harm to another person through the use of speech” (Levinson, 1994: 181). Aggression in political discourse takes different forms, from public embarrassing and shaming, harangues, sarcastic and derogatory humour, to expressing anger, accusations and insults. A thin layer of conventional politeness does not help to avoid conflict, or to ensure that interactions will be accomplished smoothly, in an atmosphere of relative harmony. All these actions are aimed at denigrating the opponents and their achievements, and at damaging their self-image in the eyes of their voters. And at the same time at enhancing one’s own party and gaining popularity among its supporters. The aim of the paper is to analyse forms of verbal aggression and impoliteness in Polish political discourse. In the study we use the discursive approach to aggression and (im)politeness (Watts, 2003; Locher, 2006), which allows us to analyse longer conversational exchanges instead of single utterances. The data used in the study come from debates and interviews with Polish politicians presented in the Polish channel TVN24.


Levinson, D. 1994. Aggression and Conflict. A Cross-Cultural Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California, Denver,             Colorado, Oxford, England: ABC-CLIO.

Locher, M.A. 2006. Polite behavior within relational work: The discursive approach to politeness.           Multilingua, 25: 249-267.

Watts, R. 2003. Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


 Kateryna Bondarenko

(Kirovohrad Volodymyr Vynnychenko State Pedagogical University –

Bilingual thesaurus slang dictionary: language aggression case”

“Slang is the language that says ‘no’. No to piety, to religion, to ideology and all its permutations, to honour, nobility, patriotism and their kindred infantilisms” [Green 2008].

Five-year experience of compiling English-Ukrainian slang dictionary resulted in substandard lexicon phenomena speculations, correlated with the problem of aggression reflected in language.

The speculations are done by means of measurement of the semantic domains which arguably constrain the substandard key verbalization targets. The measurements involved mapping the substandard lexicon onto lexical-semantic groups and interpreting the peculiarities in English and Ukrainian.

The overall finding was that both English and Ukrainian slang focus on broadly similar things. The data compared involved domains that are characterized as sexist, racist, welcoming of the crassest stereotyping.

Among the domains that attract more than 90% of a human being slang nominations the most productive are the following.

 Person nominations by differential characteristics: property, condition, relations, contacts, activity, function Ukrainianabs. (%) English abs.(%)
1 by race, nationality, as related to a territory, place of residence, location  96 (9,1%) 90 (7,55%)
2 by intellectual, intellectual-emotional, intellectual-emotional-physical state, property, quality 314 (29,76%)  414 (34,73%)
3 by social property, social status, activity, functions;  by personal and social relations, contacts  226 (21,42%)  268  (22,48%)
4 by profession, occupation, kind of activity, efforts and relations determined by the activity 133  (12,61%) 133 (11,16 %)
5 by physical, physiological, mental condition, peculiarity; by gender, by gender and age 286 (27,11%) 287  (24,08%)
Total 1055  (100%)  1192 (100%)

The semantic analysis proves slang concentrating mostly on deficiencies. The properties that provide /or prevent from successful survival and reproduction: race, gender, physiology, social status are crucial for substandard “world mapping”. The targets of verbal aggression generally stem from primeval human psychology almost irrespective of the society analyzed. Substandard language is hardly restricted thus gives way to the human primeval intentions making a perfect verbal aggression tool.

Humor nature of slang predetermines vicarious character of the aggression revealed. Consequently the domains detected reassert the authority of the phenomena to be one of the definiens of verbal aggression theory.

Patricia Bou Franch, Pilar Garcés-Conejos Blitvich & Nuria Lorenzo Dus

(P.B.F.: Universitat de València –; P.G.C.B.: University of North Carolina –; N.L.D.: Swansea University –

“Language aggression against women: Gender identity and inequality in online discourse”

This paper broaches social identity processes and, more specifically, discursive constructions of abuse victims, in the context of online language aggression against women. Research on intimate partner abuse has mostly focused on institutional interactions (Adams et al. 1995; Boonzaier 2008; Eisikovits and Buchbinder 1997; Morris 2009; Stokoe 2010). However, recent claims of the centrality of ordinary talk in nourishing the discourse of male violence are slowly bringing forth a shift of focus from institutional to ordinary discourse (Bengoechea, 2006; Bou-Franch 2013; Stokoe 2010). Accordingly, we examine interactional aggression against women as it is realised by participants in a YouTube massive polylogue (Bou-Franch et al 2012). Textual YouTube interactions develop in deindividuated environments where social identity becomes salient and exchanges are frequently polarized (Bou-Franch & Garcés-Conejos Blitvich forthcoming; Garcés-Conejos Blitvich 2010; Garcés-Conejos Blitvich et al. 2013; Lorenzo-Dus et al. 2011). Therefore, YouTube polylogues are ideal sites for the study of identity processes in the context of language aggression against women. Our analysis draws on a corpus of 500 YouTube comments in response to video‐clips against women abuse. Interactional sequences containing conflict on gender violence were identified and analyzed in relation to gender identity, stereotyping, and sexism (Benwell 2006; Bou-Franch 2013; Litosseliti & Sunderland 2002; Mills 2008; Mullany 2007).


 Diana Boxer & Heather Kaiser

(D.B.: University of Florida –; H.K.: University of Florida -

“Refusing in Uruguayan Spanish: language aggression or conflict avoidance?”

Twenty-five years ago, Wolfson (1989) proposed a theory of social distance and speech behavior known as “the Bulge.”  The theory was based on the intuition that what strangers and intimates have in common is the relative certainty of their relationships.  She asserted that while we tend to avoid conflict with friends and acquaintances, we do very little toward a “delicate dance of negotiation” with both people whom we know very well (e.g. family members) and people with whom we have little or no prior relationship (Boxer, 2002).  Boxer (1993) plotted out data on complaints and commiseration from a large corpus that refuted this similarity.  That study indicated that the Bulge is skewed to one end of the social distance continuum or the other, depending on the speech act.  The conclusion was that for many speech behaviors, we do a great deal of conflict avoidance with strangers for the purpose of building a momentary rapport.

The ‘Bulge’ has been applied to only English- speaking communities, but we now are beginning to amass information on Spanish-speaking communities that we can apply to test the theory, lending important information on the use of language aggression and conflict avoidance across the Spanish-speaking world.  One such example derives from research on refusals in Uruguay. Because refusals have the inherent potential to be perceived as face threatening leading potentially to conflict, they are a prime focal point for the study of language aggression from a pragmatic perspective.  Whether steps are taken to avoid such conflict or not is largely dependent upon social distance, but not solely. This study found, for example, that language aggression was significantly more common in the family domain in terms of aggressive moves external to the refusal head act, but not necessarily in terms of directness.  Also, women used aggressive strategies significantly more when refusing men; conversely, they employed mitigating moves to a significantly greater extent with women, signaling a tendency toward conflict avoidance with the latter.  In sum, this paper discusses new data demonstrating that the Bulge is not as straightforward as first appears.


 Ana Belén Cabrejas Peñuelas & Mercedes Díez Prados

(IULMA, Universitat de València –; University of Alcalá –

Manipulative processes as derailments of strategic maneuvering in political speech: a case study of Obama-McCain and Rajoy-Rubalcaba political debates”

Political debates are no doubt one of the most common sites for public argumentation in contemporary society. Indeed, politicians discuss their political agendas in front of an audience of millions of voters, who have an opportunity to see them from a more candid perspective than in other more prepared events, such as scripted speeches or TV spots. Unexpected questions or attacks from the opponent often help to reveal the rhetorical skills of politicians, who need to exploit all the opportunities afforded to their own advantage. In so doing, politicians often speak apparently rationally when exposing their arguments, while in reality they use misleading maneuvers to convince the audience, since imposing their political ideas is more important than the truth or falsehood of their words. Such maneuvers are manipulative processes, which mainly rely on the fact that the human mechanisms of information processes are “necessarily imperfect and biased” (Maillat &Oswald 2009: 360). The Obama–‐McCain and Rajoy–‐Rubalcaba debates are televised face–‐to–‐face confrontations belonging to the American and Spanish traditions for choosing the nations’ chief executives. Although they have particular characteristics that distinguish them from other debates, they also have aspects in common, such as the politicians’ resort to different manipulative processes when constructing arguments. Initial qualitative and discursive–‐based analyses of the transcripts of both debates based on Rigotti’s (2005) classification of manipulative processes reveal that the politicians favored some processes over others due to personal preferences, which may explain their differing rhetorical skills for persuasion; however, they all paid more attention to the rhetorical aspects of argumentation than to the dialectical ones, as their ultimate aim was to convince the audience of the truth of their arguments, while at the same time discrediting the opponent.


  Herbert L. Colston

(University of Alberta –

“Mediating aggressiveness with figurative/indirect language: psychological pragmatic effects of irony and metonymy”

Speakers must often strike a delicate balance when using aggression in language.  On one hand, given the aggression, speakers may wish to, 1) deride or belittle others’ ideas, stances or the people themselves, 2) elevate their own opinions, perspective or commentary, and/or 3) prevent alternative (or even corroborative) views from even being expressed.  But speakers must also often temper aggressive speech if they wish to successfully advance their position(s).  Effective persuasion of interlocutors and audiences is frequently aided by not alienating others with undue aggression.

Indirect language, including figurative forms, is thus often used in successful discourse because it enables some aggressiveness but provides balance via humor and/or other more positive psychological pragmatic effects.  This can allow the persuasive mechanisms often underlying aggression to be effective, without the negative perception of aggression overriding or negating them.

Two types of figurative language will be discussed, verbal irony and metonymy, specifically (and respectively) sarcasm and synecdoche, as in:


A woman makes a disparaging comment about her boss at work

not realizing that he is standing behind her within earshot.

After the boss scowls at the woman and walks away, a co-worker says to her,

“Nice going!”


Two men are waiting in a long line at a coffee shop to place their orders.

The line has halted because the customer at the register, a man with large sideburns, cannot locate his wallet.  One of the men says to the other,

“This may take a while, Sideburns can’t find his wallet!”

The different psychological mechanisms of persuasion used by sarcasm and synecdoche, respectively—contrast effects and schematic diminishment, will be demonstrated empirically, along with how those mechanisms contribute to the figures’ aggressiveness.  Tempering processes of the figures—contraindication and ingratiation, among others, will then be shown as potentially counterbalancing the perceived level of aggressiveness in the figures’ use, enabling their persuasiveness to operate with less encumbrance.

A final brief commentary about relative contributions of different psychological pragmatic effects, a possible hierarchy among them, as well as a nonetheless relative lack of determinism in their accomplishment, will also be offered.


 Elena de la Cova

(Universidad Pablo de Olavide –

“Pragmatic conflicts in the translation of technology language”

In the last decades, technology has changed our lives in every possible way: we constantly use computers and different devices for work and for leisure, marketing online is becoming essential for business success, social networks are one of the most important communication channels, etc. Language, as a result, has been shaped by this technology revolution.

As most technology is designed and developed in the United States, English has unavoidably found its way into the Spanish language, as into others. In our technology jargon, we find a great variety of English loanwords (“spam” or “software”) or calques of English terms (“ventana” or “ratón”, for “window” and “mouse”), and, in some cases, both the English loanword and the loan translation co-exist, such as in the case of “smartphone” (or “teléfono inteligente”) and “online” (or “en línea”). The coexistence of English and Spanish terms for the same reality and the intrusion of English terms into our language can be a source of conflict for translators, mainly from a pragmatic point of view and especially when there is not a standard use of the term.

“Pragmatics is the study of language from the point of view of users, especially of the choices they make, the constraints they encounter in using language in social interaction and the effects their use of language has on other participants in the act of communication” (Crystal 1985: 240).

In the light of the previous definition, translators make choices that affect the perception that target users have of the source text, and, ultimately, the target language and culture. The translation of such technology-related terms will be primarily influenced by the target audience, but also by the essence of the source text. Translators, by using “online” instead of “en línea”, are introducing certain extra linguistic elements that might create a new voice for the target text.

In this study, we aim at looking into these technology-related English terms or loans that are shaking our language, putting terminological standardization at stake and introducing new meanings and attitudes towards language and reality.


Cabré, M. T. (1993). La terminología: Teoría, metodología, aplicaciones. Barcelona: Institut Universitari de Lingüística Aplicada.

Kasper, G. (1997). Can pragmatic competence be taught? NetWork, 6, 105-119.

Meyer, I. (2000). Computer Words in Our Everyday Lives: How are they interesting for terminography and lexicography? In Proceedings of EURALEX 2000 (pp. 39-58)

Pym, A. (2004). On the Pragmatics of Translating Multilingual Texts. The Journal of Specialised Translation 1, 14-28. Retrieved from


 Erik Falk

(University of Uppsala –

“Swedish insults in a historical pragmatic perspective”

In a historical pragmatic perspective swearing has emerged from oaths and curses within the medieval church. These speech acts, when used in language aggression by people outside the religious institution, developed to swear words with a different meaning than the original declarations of the priests (cf Arnovick 1999). In a similar way, I hypothesize, insults have their historical origin in another medieval institution, that is the judicial court. When accusations and verdicts were used by people in conflicts outside the court room the speech acts, without the institutional support, developed into expressive speech acts as slander and libel with another pragmatic function than the declarations of the court.

My doctoral thesis (Falk 2011) investigates verbal insults recorded in judicial protocols in the Swedish university town Uppsala during the 1630s. It analyzes insults as linguistic formulations and social acts in Early Modern Swedish society and highlights the difference between two speech communities: a predominant literal culture at the university and a mainly oral culture in the town. The methodology of the text research is guided by speech act theory and multidimensional analytical model of insults proposed within historical pragmatics (Jucker & Taavitsainen 2000).

Clear patterns emerge in the investigation. Insults among city people were commonly interpreted as truth-conditional representative speech acts and thereby were viewed as false accusations of various kinds. In the academic world, however, the truth value of the insult was of minor importance. The speech act was regarded mainly as an expressive utterance of anger and frustration.

Through a comparison of the city and university judicial records, it is shown that the patterns of insults reveal a synchronic sociolinguistic variation which reveals an ongoing semantic process in which primarily concrete, objective meanings come to fulfill increasingly interpersonal and pragmatic speech functions (cf Traugott 2004). I call this process pragmaticalisation (cf Claridge & Arnovick 2010). In this paper I present a complementary investigation to my synchronic doctoral thesis with a study of verbal insults in the same university town in the 1690s. Can my hypothesis for the development of insults be confirmed or contradicted in a diachronic perspective?


Arnovick, Leslie K. 1999. Diachronic Pragmatics: Seven Case Studies in English Illocutionary Development. (Pragmatics & Beyond, New Series 68). Amsterdam/Philadephia: John Benjamins.

Claridge, Claudia & Arnovick, Leslie 2010. Pragmaticalisation and discursisation. In: A.H. Jucker & I. Taavitsainen (eds.) Historical Pragmatics. (Handbooks of Pragmatics. 8.) Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 165–192.

Falk, Erik 2011. Verbala förolämpningar i 1630-talets Uppsala. En historisk talaktsanalys. (Verbal Insults in Uppsala during the 1630s. A Historical Speech Act Analysis.) (Skrifter utgivna av Institutionen för nordiska språk. 85) Uppsala.

Jucker, Andreas H. & Irma Taavitsainen. 2000. Diachronic speech act analysis. Insults from flyting to flaming. Journal of Historical Pragmatics Vol. 1(1) 67–95.

Traugott, Elizabeth Closs. 2004. Historical Pragmatics. In: Laurence R. Horn & Gregory Ward (eds.) The Handbook of Pragmatics. (Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics 16.) Malden, Oxford, Carlton. 538–561.


 Victoria Faris

(Massey University –

“Walking the line between aggression and assertion: political impoliteness and the journalistic field”

This paper analyses adversarial political interviews between journalists and politicians, using Impoliteness (Culpeper, 2010; 2011) as a framework for analysis. While much research has been done on how journalists use impoliteness to assert power over politicians, this research addresses how politicians manage their own impoliteness to assert power over the journalist, sometimes seeking to strategically exploit public antagonism to aggressive journalistic practices. It analyses the fine line that politicians must tread by remaining assertive while not alienating potential voters with their own aggression.

Using conversation analysis as a methodology, the research focuses on radio interviews between journalists and the New Zealand Minister for Economic Development, Steven Joyce, about a prominent casino’s bid to build a national convention centre in exchange for the right to operate more gaming machines. It finds that impoliteness in adversarial interviews, in some cases, may be as much initiated by the politician as the journalist. The analysis of the interviews is conceptualised through Bourdieu’s (2005) notion of the journalistic field to highlight the power struggles between journalistic practices and forms of symbolic capital particular to the political field.


Bourdieu, P. (2005). The political field, the social science field and the journalistic field. In R. Benson & E. Neveu (Eds.). Bourdieu and the Journalistic Field (pp. 29-47). Cambridge: Polity.

Culpeper, J. (2010). Conventionalised impoliteness formulae. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(12), 3232-3245.

Culpeper, J. (2011). Impoliteness : using language to cause offence. Cambridge New York: Cambridge University Press.


Weronika Gąsior

(University of Limerick

We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one: the non-aggressive side of disagreements in Irish English exchanges of opinions – A study among Irish and Polish students”

Politeness is an omnipresent phenomenon; in communication we can ‘never get away from negotiating facework’ (Watts 2003, p. 259) and politeness. Has this preference for avoidance of aggression and threat influenced our abilities to disagree firmly and to stand by our opinions? In this paper I discuss disagreements from a study of opinions amongst Irish and Polish university students. The data was collected through open role-play and was followed by focus groups in which participants discussed issues of sociopragmatic constraints in expressing opinions in the Irish context. The analysis of the discourse structure and politeness strategies in opinions has revealed that the ‘yes, but’ pattern of disagreements is the key to building an organised and polite conversation. Moreover, the instances of impoliteness and aggression in the data were limited to banter and some indirect insulting comments. A pertinent question regarding these findings is whether it is the Cooperative Principle (Grice 1975) that could be responsible for the overwhelmingly mitigated disagreements or could it be traced back to some language-specific preferences (i.e. the Anglo avoidance of conflict). Furthermore, opinions exchanged in informal contexts reveal different dynamics when contrasted with uncooperative, aggressive communication present in opinions exchanged in political debates for example. Additionally, the identification of some differences between Irish and Polish participants’ formulae for expressing opinions permits further discussion regarding the association of indirectness with politeness, which sometimes holds true, and in some instances can be misleading. Finally, in this paper I resort to the concepts of Natural Semantic Metalanguage and the theory of cultural scripts (Goddard & Wierzbicka 2004) to discuss the underlying principles behind the non-aggressive disagreements in the intercultural context of Irish-Polish exchanges of opinions.


Goddard, C. and Wierzbicka, A. (2004) ‘Cultural scripts: What are they and what are they good for?’, Intercultural Pragmatics, 1(2), 153-166.

Grice, H. P. (1975) ‘Logic and conversation’, in Cole, P. and Morgan, J. L., eds., Syntax and Semantics, vol.3: Speech Acts, New York: Academic Press, 41-58.

Watts, R. J. (2003) Politeness, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


 Minna Hjort

(University of Helsinki –

Fictional swearing in translation – opportunities, challenges, attitudes and controversies”

Swearwords are a potent tool of expression in everyday communications as well as fiction. They may represent a variety of emotions, mark language variety and register, evoke shared ideas of personality, age, gender, in-group membership and so on, and draw attention to key themes. These functions of swearing can be creatively exploited and abused in fiction and reconstructed in translation.

In my talk, I will present certain findings of my research on contemporary fictional representations of swearing and the translation of swearing into Finnish, with focus on translators’ principles, norms and attitudes in relation to swearing and the translation of swearing. I will discuss certain intra-, inter- and extralinguistic and translatorial factors that affect the choice of swearwords in translation, and show what kind of conflicts may arise for example when personal and professional norms collide. I will contrast literary and audio-visual translation as well as translator ideas and audience expectations, and discuss certain “memes of swearword translation” (cf. Chesterman’s [1997] concept of ‘meme of translation’).

I draw mainly on the findings of my PhD study on swearwords and the translation of swearwords in contemporary Finnish-language fiction (Hjort forthcoming), and here in particular on the results of a questionnaire study with literary translators. I will also refer to a questionnaire study on swearwords in audio-visual translation where information on the expectations of the audience is also available in addition to the translators’ views (Hjort 2010).


Chesterman, A. (1997) Memes of Translation. The spread of ideas in translation theory. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Hjort, M. (2010) Swearwords in Subtitles – A Balancing Act. Intralinea Online Translation Journal.

Hjort, M. (forthcoming) Kaunokirjalliset voimatyökalut. Tutkimus suomalaisen nykykaunokirjallisuuden ja yhdysvaltalaisen nykykaunokirjallisuuden suomennosten kirosanoista. Erityistarkastelussa lekseemit VITTU, PERKELE ja HITTO. PhD thesis. Helsinki: University of Helsinki.


Cornelia Ilie

(Zayed University –

“Contesting arguments: hard-hitting questions in political interviews”

Probing broadcast interviews represent a prototypical site for dialogue-driven struggles over meaning. While interviews are normally assumed to follow a role-based turn-taking pattern of question-answer sequences, they can nevertheless take unpredictable forms depending on the interviewer-interviewee interpersonal relationship, mutual respect and understanding for each other’s roles, and, last but not least individual rhetorical skills (Ilie 2011). In addition to topic control and time management, an interviewer’s design and framing of questions play a decisive role in (implicitly or explicitly) conveying varying degrees of face-threatening, from simply questioning to actually calling into question the interviewee’s position, statements and/or actions (Elliott and Bull 1996, Clayman and Heritage 2002). This is particularly conspicuous in high profile political interview programmes such as CNN’s Amanpour and BBC’s HARDtalk, whose very purpose is to discuss controversial issues about current affairs. The latter’s host, journalist Stephen Sackur, regards the interview as a “one-on-one” dialogue that enables him “to quiz the men and women who shape our world” by means of “challenging questions”.

Since interviewers can be seen to engage in purposefully challenging questioning in an attempt to trigger revealing answers from interviewees (e.g. holding them accountable, eliciting confessions, contesting testimonies), it is important to understand their interviewing styles and questioning practices. The aim of the present investigation is to critically examine the functions and effects of the question design used by Stephen Sackur, the programme host of BBC’s HARDtalk interview series with leading political figures. A pragma-rhetorical approach will be used to identify, on the one hand, the focus, scope and challenging force of various (conventional and unconventional) types of questions used by the interviewer, and, on the other hand, the extent to which the interviewees’ answers and responses display contesting, evasive or compliant reactions. Special attention will be paid to the functions of leading questions, echo questions and rhetorical questions (Ilie 2009), declarative questions and polar interrogatives (Heritage 2002).


Clayman, Steven E. and Heritage, John, 2002. The news interview: Journalists and public figures on the air. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Elliott, Judy and Bull, Peter, 1996. A question of threat: face threats in questions posed during televised political interviews. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology 6: 49–72.

Heritage, John, 2002. The limits of questioning: Negative interrogatives and hostile question content. Journal of Pragmatics 34: 1427–1446.

Ilie, Cornelia. 2009. Rhetorical Questions. In Cummings, Louise (ed.) The Routledge Pragmatics Encyclopedia. London: Routledge.

Ilie, Cornelia. 2011. The gender divide in election campaign interviews: Questioning Barack Obama and calling into question Hillary Clinton. Redescriptions – Yearbook of Political Thought, Conceptual History and Feminist Theory, Vol. 15: 125-148.


 Lesley Jeffries

(University of Huddersfield-

Threat or risk? The potential effects of lexical choice. Case study: the Iraq war and the Chilcott enquiry”

This paper will focus on the words ‘threat’ and ‘risk’ in relation to the Iraq war as evidenced in submissions to the Chilcott enquiry which was charged with investigating the war, its origins and its aftermath.

Using the BNC as an indicator of the baseline range of denotation, connotation (semantic prosody) and grammatical function of these lexemes, this study considers the ideological and persuasive potential of these words as used by witnesses to the enquiry and their interrogators. Taking Tony Blair, the ex-Prime Minister of the UK, as a case study, it will be demonstrated that the perspectives provided by these words limit the possible ideological positions of the recipients of these texts and implicitly justify the actions taken by the government to implement regime change in Iraq.


Jeffries, L. (2011) ‘‘Radicalisation’ and ‘democracy’: a linguistic analysis of rhetorical change’ In Bryson, V. and Fisher, P. (eds) Redefining social justice. New Labour, rhetoric and reality. Manchester: Manchester University Press 2011: 37–56.

Jeffries, L. (2010a) Opposition In Discourse: The Construction of Oppositional Meaning. Advances in Stylistics . Continuum, London. ISBN 9781847065124

Jeffries, L. (2010b) Critical Stylistics: the Power of English. Perspectives on the English Language. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. ISBN 9780333964484

Jeffries, L. (2007b) ‘Journalistic Constructions of Blair’s ‘Apology’ for the Intelligence Leading to the Iraq War.’  In Johnson, S. and Ensslin, A. (eds) Language in the Media, Representations, Identities, Ideologies. London: Continuum Books. 2007: 48-69.

Jeffries, L. and Evans, M. (2013) ‘The rise of choice as an absolute ‘good’: A study of British manifestos, 1900-2010’ SRC Working Papers 5: 1-24.

Jeffries, L. and Walker, B. (2012) ‘Key words in the press: A critical corpus-driven analysis of ideology in the Blair years (1998- 2007). English Text Construction 5(2): 208 – 229.


 Scott F. Kiesling

(University of Pittsburgh –

“Class, (cup)cakes, and conflict”

Ochs (1992) argues that gender patterns in language use are mediated by ideologies that associate stances, acts, and identities differentially with masculinity and femininity. In addition, Eckert and McConnell-Ginet (1999:192-198) suggest that gender and socioeconomic class interact in complex ways that depend on both class and gender ideologies.

In this paper, I investigate the intersection between gender and class by observing differences and similarities across performances and evaluations of speech events involving conflict on two reality TV shows (Cake Boss and DC Cupcakes) that have different class and gender configurations. I find different strategies for interaction among all four ideologically-relevant class/gender poles, ranging from an embrace of direct, aggravated conflict to an avoidance of, and distaste for, conflict. In addition, I find differences in evaluation when similar strategies are employed by women and men in the two shows.

Cake Boss is a show about a working-class bakery. The first clip analyzed involves an episode in which a key cake ingredient is missing. This all-male interaction evinces direct conflict, and the main ‘character’ evaluates the interaction positively. However, in a parallel clip a woman engaging in direct conflict is evaluated negatively. DC Cupcakes is about a cupcake shop run by two upper middle class women. The conflict involves male and female employees, and the evaluations of the conflict are within the interaction. While the stances in the conflict are overall less direct than in Cake Boss, there is nevertheless a differential evaluation of conflict depending on gender. These differences show that the indirect indexicalities suggested by Ochs are quite complex, and suggest some of the ways these indexicalities are connected and reinforced.

While reality shows are far from actual reality, when treated as performances of reality they can be powerful ways of informing viewers (and researchers) about the relationship between language use and identity such as gender and class. These clips model how ideologies about how men and women of different classes are expected to ‘do conflict,’ and demonstrate how such ideologies are circulated reproduced.


Ochs, E. (1992). Indexing Gender. In A. Duranti & C. Goodwin (Eds.), Rethinking Context (pp. 335–358). Cambridge [England]; New York: Cambridge University Press.

Eckert, P., & McConnell-Ginet, S. (1999). New generalizations and explanations in language and gender research. Language in Society, 28, 185–201.


 Alexander Kozin

(Freie Universität Berlin –

“Aggression and acccountability in the legal setting: a case of ‘reasonable’ aggression

The proposed presentation offers a multi-media (visual and audio) ethnomethodological analysis of aggression in the context of law enforcement activities. Two video excerpts from actual police recordings will be presented and analyzed: one shows the event of arrest (made from the police cruiser’s camera), while the other – the event of booking of the same suspect accused of DWUI (driving while under the influence) taken from the CCTV recording at the police station. Both instances were collected from the defense attorney (all the release forms are in order) by the applicant who conducted legal ethnography in R. (name of town) at the time. During both events the suspect was accused of behaving aggressively toward the involved police officers, who in turn, attempted to mitigate his aggression by a variety of conversational and physical means.

The purpose of the analysis is to show a clash between the institutional definition of ‘aggression’ and the mundane notion of ‘aggression’. The defense attorney who chose to represent the client out of “fairness to his generation” (he was 67 at the time and, although belonged to a local biker group, had no prior convictions) decided to argue that “under duress and other circumstances, a suspect may behave aggressively, a behaviour which should not be treated in relation to another legal procedures known as ‘resisting arrest,’ which is a felony, but shall be considered as a historical reaction on the part of the suspect toward the institution of law enforcement per se.” With this, the defence argued for ‘reasonable aggression.’ The two recordings were at the epicentre of the argument. The excerpts for analysis will be presented both in the video format and as transcribed texts. When addressing the material in my presentation, I will attend to it by accentuating those items which were deemed arguable by both the state attorney and the defense attorney, respectively. Their positions were also recorded but, due to time limitations, will be presented only as referential clusters.


Vicente López Folgado & Manuel Balsera Fernández

(V.L.F.: Universidad de Córdoba -; M.B.F: Universidad de Córdoba –

“Visualization of conflictive political discourse and pragmatic interpretation of satirical editorial ‘calligrams’”

The best representative of today’s cognitive pragmatics is Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory (1986/95). It is based on a simple, fundamental idea: efficiency. The concept of relevance is determined by two basic elements that are balance: the contextual effects are offset by processing costs. The aim of modern lexical pragmatics is to consider the social dimension relevance has through the study of real data in the sense of occasion-specific, based on the interaction among encoded concepts, contextual information and pragmatic expectations. On the other hand, the continuously renewed editorial cartoons seek to rework critical reflection on a highly topical subject through a metaphorical visualization, which implies the use of the typographical arrangement of an utterance: ad hoc lexical labels and other discourse resources, so as to construe a political text of ‘calligramatic’ character (Carston 1996; Sperber & Wilson, 1998; 2012). It amounts to a suggestive, playful process which expresses in its own format the search for a new sort of aesthetics and an apparent wish for renewal and discovery, which is achieved through the interpretation of controversial political discourse. Our aim in this article is to interpret from the standpoint of the pragmatic cognitive theory the communicative intentionality of the proposed corpus of political messages where aggressiveness is patent.


 Renia López Ozieblo

(Hong Kong Polytechnic University –

“Understanding inner cognitive conflict through the analysis of gestures”

In the foreign language (FL) classroom it is possible to observe many types of conflict experienced by our students: from those occasioned by cultural differences to others purely of language. However, there is a specific type we would like to introduce: the cognitive inner conflict. There is a tendency to study external conflicts that involve an addressee, but for students of a FL understanding the inner conflict might be just as valuable. The inner conflict is seldom analyzed by teachers (and even less so by the students themselves) and while introspection might help it comes after the event and therefore is not always accurate. However the conflict is often clearly reflected in the use of gestures.

The field of gestures, movements made with the hands co-occurring with speech, has grown over the last few decades in many fields, psycholinguistics being just one of them. A number of scholars (McNeill, de Ruiter, Kita) propose that we need to look at gesture-speech production as a unit and not as two independent events. We would like to further propose that by analyzing the gesture-speech production of FL students we should be able to identify some of the cognitive processes students evince and where conflict might lie, in either language production or formulation of the idea.

This study is based on analysis of video recordings of students of Spanish as a FL, and the students are all bilingual Cantonese-English speakers. The gesture-speech analysis shows a clear progression in their capacity to resolve their inner conflicts. This changes in nature depending on the speaker (including prosodic issues when dealing with native speakers) and proficiency level, from the stuttering of beginners to the self-repair of more advanced students, where only the gestures indicate the type of conflict the speaker was trying to resolve. By understanding cognitive inner conflicts, teachers of FL might be better prepared to aid students resolve them.


De Ruiter, J.P. (1998). Gesture and speech production. Unpublished dissertation, University of Nijmegen.

Kita, S., & Özyürek, A. (2003). What does cross-linguistic variation in semantic coordination of speech and gesture reveal?: Evidence for an interface representation of spatial thinking and speaking. Journal of Memory and Language, 48, 16-32.

McNeill, D. & Duncan S. (2000). Growth points in thinking for speaking. In McNeill, D., (Ed.), Language and Gesture. New York: Cambridge University Press.


 Ronald F. Lunsford

(UNC Charlotte –

“Manipulative arguments in political speech”

One of the most controversial political statements of the 2008 presidential campaign was uttered by Hillary Clinton during the South Carolina primary:

Dr. King’s dreams began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil rights Act. It took a president to get it done. The power of that dream became real in people’s lives because we had a president capable of action.

This statement, and others that I will examine in this paper, raise interesting questions about what have come to be called “manipulative arguments” (de Saussure, 2013). One of the most interesting of these questions has to do with the role of intentionality. Malliat (2013) argues convincingly that intention is not necessary for the “interpretive effect” of a manipulative argument. But in high states political discourse, where so many different audiences are being addressed, a manipulate argument can actually be very effective. We get additional insight into how this may be true from Andone’s (2013) analysis of politicians’ retractions. Andone looks at the ways that reporters often back candidates into positions where they must face what they have said and do necessary damage control. If we assume, however, that politicians are intentionally employing manipulative arguments, these reporters may well be acting as unwitting tools of the candidates, allowing them to maintain plausible deniability of certain proposed arguments (Pinker, 2008) while keeping those arguments in the minds of members of the audience who will understand the denied arguments as “code.”  For example, in Clinton’s statement above, she makes it clear that President Johnson did things that a mere civil rights advocate couldn’t do, but then when pressed by reporters, she points to the actual words of her statement in an attempt to deny that that argument was ever made. On the one hand, she pleads with fair-minded and non-racists voters to see her statement as “inelegant” but not in any way malicious; on the other hand, she may well be drawing attention to the argument that racists would be attracted to.


Andone, Corina. (2013). Strategic manoeuvring in a political interview: The case of responding to an accusation of inconsistency. In Anita Fetzer, (Ed)., The Pragmatics of Political Discourse: Explorations across Cultures (103-124). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Malliat, Didier. (2013). Constraining context selection: On the pragmatic inevitability of manipulation. Journal of Pragmatics, volume 59. 190-199.

Pinker, Steven. 2008. The Stuff of Thought. New York, New York: Viking.

Saussure, Louis de. (2005). Background Relevance. Journal of Pragmatics, volume 59, 178-189.


Carmen Maíz Arévalo

(Universidad Complutense de Madrid –

“Smiling faces or pragmatic cues? Functions and gender of emoticons in social networking sites”

Despite their seemingly innocent aspect, emoticons have long attracted a great deal of attention in computer-mediated communication (e.g. Herring 2003, Savas 2011, Yus 2011, among many others). However, there is still a lack of consensus among researchers on the functions they can perform and on the role played by the gender variable in their use. Thus, whereas some authors claim that emoticons are more recurrent among female users, others argue that there might be differences in the purposes they are put to by male and female users. The present study aims to investigate emoticons in a real sample of a hundred Facebook exchanges produced by British users to find out what functions emoticons can perform in real contexts and whether gender has a say in how they are used. To this purpose, a combined approach of pragmatics (speech acts) and multimodality has been adopted, since emoticons are regarded as visual cues that act in a symmetrical, enhancing or contradicting relation with the purely textual part of the message. Results point to the versatility of some emoticons over others and to differences in use in relation with the users’ gender.


Herring, Susan C. (2003). “Gender and power in online communication”. In Janet Holmes and Miriam Meyerhoff (eds.). The Handbook of language and gender. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Savas, Perihan (2011). “A case study of contextual and individual factors that shape linguistic variation in synchronous text-based computer-mediated communication”. Journal of Pragmatics 43(1), 298-313.

Yus, Francisco (2011). Cyberpragmatics: internet-mediated communication in context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


 Carmen Maíz Arévalo & Marta Carretero Lepeyre

(C.M.A.: Universidad Complutense de Madrid –; M.C.L.: Universidad Complutense de Madrid –

“‘Are you going to answer or what?’ Reproaches and directives in students’ online collaborative tasks”

Collaborative work in a foreign language can involve a big challenge for students, due not only to the use of that language but also to the demands of interaction. In fact, managing to keep a good rapport among the group members may become crucial to achieve a successful final product. Collaborating online may help solve some of the problems posed by face-to-face discussions such as floor control, whilst raising other difficulties derived from the implicit disembodiment prevalent in computer-mediated communication (e.g. lack of intonation, tone, facial gestures, etc.). Thus, although online collaborative work is beneficial for the transfer of contents and information, it may seriously endanger the good rapport of the group, whose members might perceive some speech acts as even more face-threatening and conflictive than in face-to-face interaction. For instance, this is the case of reproaches and directives. This paper explores these two speech acts in various e-forum history logs derived from the online collaborative writing activity of three groups of undergraduate and postgraduate students in a tertiary education setting, concretely in three subjects in the area of English linguistics. The study includes a qualitative and quantitative analysis which covers the similarities and the differences found across the three data samples in terms of these two speech acts, their linguistic realizations and frequency of use. The results reflect that the variables of linguistic proficiency, group size, age, multiculturality, and method of assessment have a strong bearing on the form and use of reproaches and directives in the sample.


 Maria-Aldina Marques

(Universidade do Minho –

Political instability, economic crisis and linguistic aggressivity in Portuguese Parliament

The present political and social situation in Portugal has been, for several years, determined by political instability. The main cause is definitely the economic crisis that turned out to be the core of this everlasting state of crisis, also amplified by the arrival of the “troika” to Portugal in 2011.

In the Portuguese Parliament, plenary sessions testify to this instability, particularly in the way debators confront each other through conflicting representations of the Portuguese political situation, either intensified by the critical voice of the Opposition or tempered by Government’s voice.

The aggressivity of parliamentary language, traditional in the Portuguese Parliament, seems to become an outstanding strategy of confrontation (Marques, 2008).

Adopting the perspective of French discourse analysis, we aim to analyze the construction of argumentation in the plenary sessions of the Portuguese Parliament during the 12th legislature.

Specific attention will be paid to the way Portuguese Parliamentarians and members of the Portuguese government construct their argumentation on the subject of economic and political crisis, particularly with regard to the problems and consequences of the negotiation with European institutions, namely the “troika”.


Our research is based on discourse argumentation theory, developed explicitly by Christian Plantin (1996, 1999, 2011), Ruth Amossy (2000, 2008)  and Marques (2011), among others.

Amossy, R. 2000. L’argumentation dans le Discours – discours politique, littérature d’idées, fiction. Paris: Nathan.

Amossy, R., 2008. “Argumentation et Analyse du discours: perspetives théoriques et découpages disciplinaires ”. In Argumentation et Analyse du Discours, n° 1 [em linha], desde 06 de setembro de 2008. Consultado em a 23 março de 2010.

Marques, M. A., 2011. “Argumentação e(m) Discursos”, in Isabel Margarida Duarte e Olívia Figueiredo (org.), Português, Língua e Ensino, Porto: Universidade do Porto, pp.287-310,

Marques, M. A., 2008. “Arrogância e Construção do Ethos no Discurso Político Português”, Actas do III Simpósio Internacional de Análise do Discurso, Brasil: Belo Horizonte, UFMG, pp. 1-10, ISBN: 978.85.7758.056.9

Plantin Chr., 2011. “L’indignation politique: une approche discursive” . Le discours politique portugais en perspective: approches plurielles. Porto, 16 e 17 de junho 2011.

Plantin, Chr., 1999. “Des polémistes aux polémiqueurs”. Colloque Le Discours polémique, Paris IV. http://icar.univ-ly

Plantin Chr., 1996a. L’argumentation. Paris: Seuil.


 Gonzalo Martínez Camino & Manuel Pérez Saiz

(Universidad de Cantabria  -  /

“Aggravating, teasing and teaching”

In Brown & Levinson’s model, we can easily identify polite behaviour because it consists in avoiding or mitigating face threatening acts. However, this model has been the object of severe criticism, and other views of what is polite have gained ground over the last twenty five years. Today, it can be stated that the dominant definition of what is polite falls back on two basic cornerstones: face and norm. The audience assesses the communicators’ discourses as supporting of their faces if they follow social norms and  as damaging if they breach them.

However, in the socio-pragmatics literature, we can find descriptions of activity types where aggravation is the norm: new journalism, talk-shows, military training, political debates, or judicial close-examination are some examples. This is what Richard J. Watts (2003, 259-260) defines as sanctioned aggressive facework. Besides, other researchers focus on discourses where the interlocutors manage their interpersonal links in ambiguous or ambivalent terms: teasing, mock (im)politeness, feign politeness, over-politeness, etc. In both cases, the interlocutors have to handle different lines of expectations and multi-functionality. These facts bring into question the above-mentioned definition of (im)politeness.

This presentation puts forward a model based on the concepts of evolving exchange, identity and alignment which offers an explanation of the complex intertwining of face evaluations implied by sanctioned aggressive facework and ambivalent interpersonal managements. The idea is to redefine the concepts of face and norm and how they interact. In the final part of the paper, an application of this theoretical approach to the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language will be offered. We will pose a double hypothesis: aggressive correction can create a sphere of affiliation in the classroom and, in turn, this sphere can motivate learning.


Watts, Richard j. 2003. Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


 Jekaterina Mazara

(University of Zurich –

The use of negative irony in Russian political TV debates

Ironic utterances can be used for various reasons. They can simply have entertainment value (and potentially enhance the speaker’s positive face if irony and wit are valued), they can signalize camaraderie between participants in a conversation, and, among others, they can also be used as a means of attack. In this paper, I will concentrate on the last category and examine those ironic utterances, which are used to attack an opponent in the context of Russian political debate shows. The data examined in this paper stems from two political talk shows (Poedinok ‘Duel’ and Politika), with 10 shows analyzed for each of the two formats.

The ironic utterances are examined within neo-Gricean and Relevance theoretical frameworks. Since Poedinok (‘Duel’) only involves two opponents, while there are multiple participants in Politika, it will be examined how the setting of the show influences the use of irony. Furthermore, the analysis will focus on the following features of confrontational irony:

i) what triggers ironic utterances, are certain topics more prone to the use of irony?

ii) who is the “vicitim” of the attack?

iii) function of the ironic utterance: is it used to challenge the opponent, to comment on something that was said, to deflect an argument, etc.

iv) how is the ironic utterance received by the addressee(s)?

Additionally, the ironic utterances will be assessed from an impoliteness theoretical point of view, examining their role in facework and impoliteness management (cf. for example Bousfield 2008; Culpeper 2011).


Bousfield, Derek. 2008. Impoliteness in Interaction. Amsterdam.

Culpeper, Jonathan. 2011. Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence. Cambridge.

Kotthoff, Helga. 2002. Irony, quotation, and other forms of staged intertextuality: Double or contrastive perspectivation in conversation. In Karl Graumann/Werner Kallmeyer (eds.). Perspective and Perspectivation in Discourse. Amsterdam: Benjamins.


 Alba Milà García

(Universitat Pompeu Fabra –

“‘It looks good, I agree with you, but…’: Cooperative ways of resolving disagreement in meetings

The organization of events is a complex process that is usually carried out by a specially appointed committee and that requires a lot of planning, most of which takes place in committee meetings where the members make decisions. Quite inevitably, agreement is not always forthcoming, and they must negotiate their positions until they agree on a plan of action. Thus, in this kind of multiparty task-oriented event, difference of opinion is expected to arise and disagreement is neither impolite, nor dispreferred, but unmarked (Angouri, 2012).

In this study we present extracts from the meetings of two committees of a Catalan hiking association that are in charge of organizing two different events: an exhibition and a special annual hike attended by hundreds of people. From the audio recordings of these meetings, those sequences in which disagreement arose were selected to study the different ways in which it developed and was finally resolved: the speakers manifest their disagreement, they align and co-build their utterances with others to reinforce their views (Kangasharju, 2002), and they make use of the personal relationship between them in order for the discussion to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

The strategies used in the interaction are shaped by the contextual dimension of these meetings (Sifianou, 2012): the participants are not discussing business matters, but organizing social activities on behalf of an association they joined voluntarily. Therefore, even though disagreement is part of the organizing process, they take special care in protecting the face of the person with whom they disagree and they always try to reach an agreement in a friendly manner, not necessarily convincing the other party, but at least getting them to acknowledge the winning argument.


Angouri, J. (2012). Managing disagreement in problem solving meeting talk. Journal of Pragmatics, 44(12), 1565–1579.

Kangasharju, H. (2002). Alignment in disagreement: forming oppositional alliances in committee meetings. Journal of Pragmatics, 34(10), 1447–1471.

Sifianou, M. (2012). Disagreements, politeness and face. Journal of Pragmatics, 44, 1554–1564.


 Sharon Millar

(University of Southern Denmark –

Policing provocation and provoking policing on a Danish online discussion forum

This paper focuses on perceptions of unacceptable discursive behaviours on a Danish online discussion forum and the suggested ways of dealing with these behaviours.  Its aims are two-fold: a)  to identify what unacceptability encompasses in terms of  phenomena such as  impoliteness and rudeness, including threats (Bousfield  2010; Limburg 2009), and specific online behaviours, such as trolling (Hardaker 2010), taking into account micro and macro features of context (Angouri and Tselgia 2010);  b) to consider the suggested means of dealing with unacceptable discursive behaviours, such as non-response, report to moderators, from the perspective of sender and receiver responsibility.  The extent to which sanctioning measures themselves involve aggravating behaviours, such as relational aggression (Coyne et al 2010), will also be examined.

The data derive from threads from a meta-debate category ‘sol debat’, which allows users to debate a discussion forum  offered by,  and includes responses from the forum’s moderators.  What is interesting about these threads is that they sometimes involve specific examples of what is considered unacceptable, giving links to the actual exchange on the general discussion forum. This allows for an approach that combines a metapragmatic analysis with a pragmatic analysis of the examples given.  Consequently, the data can be analysed partly using Bousfield’s (2010) co-constructionist prototype approach to impoliteness and rudeness, which takes producer and receiver into account, as well as a discursive analytic approach that explores the framing of unacceptable online verbal behaviours.


Angouri, J. and Tseliga, T. 2010. ‘“You Have No Idea What You are Talking About!” From e-disagreement to e-impoliteness in two online fora’. Journal of Politeness Research 6 (1): 57-82.

Bousfield, D. 2010. ‘Researching impoliteness and rudeness: issues and definition’. In M. Locher & G. Sage (eds) Interpersonal Pragmatics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 101-134.

Coyne, S et al. 2010. ‘Does reality backbite? Physical, verbal and relational aggression in reality television programs’. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 54(2): 282-298

Hardaker, C. 2010. ‘Trolling in asynchronous computer-mediated communication: From user discussions to academic definitions’. Journal of Politeness Research 6: 215-242

Limburg, H. 2009. ‘Impoliteness and threat responses’. Journal of Pragmatics 41: 1376-1394


 Gerrard Mugford

(Universidad de Guadalajara –

“Coming across in one’s own way: confronting foreign-language aggression”

While foreign-language teaching and learning in the classroom focuses on establishing, developing and maintaining meaningful and positive relationships in the target language, students are often ill-prepared to deal with aggressive and conflictive situations where interaction does not progress smoothly and in a constructive manner. Foreign-language students need to be prepared for the rough-and-tumble of real-life interpersonal language use. However, the challenge comes in finding ways to help students interact in such situations in a way they are comfortable with rather than imposing prescriptive ways of dealing with aggressive incidents.

In this presentation, I examine the pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic resources that foreign-language students need in order to negotiate perceived incidents of aggression with the objective of giving learners choices regarding how they want to come across and interact in the target language.

Building on learners’ experiences, attitudes and histories or what Bourdieu (1972) terms habitus, I examine how students of English as a foreign language in Guadalajara, Mexico, negotiate and deal with conflict and aggression in their first language in an attempt to examine whether their own pragmatic resources and ways of coming across are transferable to, and effective in, the target language.

To understand how the foreign-language students react to aggression in their first language, I asked 80 learners to respond in Spanish to six potentially aggressive incidents through the use of discourse completion tasks (DCT). The students were then given the opportunity to examine a range of pragmatic resources such as politeness markers, hedges, understaters, downtoners (Kleinke 2010) in English and evaluate their potential force and effectiveness in allowing them to respond to the same aggressive incidents in the target language. I then repeated the activity by asking the students to undertake the same task in English. The results indicate that direct teaching can help students to come across in both their own way and in an appropriate and acceptable manner in the target language.


Bourdieu, P. (1972). Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kleinke, S., (2010). Interactive aspects of computer-mediated communication – ‘Disagreement’ in an English-speaking and a German-speaking Public News Group. In Tanskanen, S-K, M-L Helasvuo, M. Johannson, M. Raitaniemi, (eds.), Discourses in Interaction. Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 195- 222.


Malka Muchnik

(Bar-Ilan University –

“The conflicted language in Israeli society”

Languages reflect the spirit of the society by which they are spoken, and in a belligerent society we can expect to find a wide lexicon related to war (Chilton 1987, 2004; Lakoff 2003; Gavriely-Nuri 2008). Military expressions may be found not only in the vocabulary attributed to the army, but in very different areas. Indeed, many metaphorical expressions in Modern Hebrew were taken from the military world, and are widely used in politics, sport, sex, slang and even personal compliments.

Unlike this, in many instances the Army itself refrains from using expressions that remind war and avoids negative and threatening connotations. One way of mitigating and softening peopleʼs feelings about war is the use of positive words to indicate violent events and the weapons designated for this purpose. This usage is ubiquitous to different languages and societies, yet in Israeli society, which lives in conflict and violence, this phenomenon is much more pronounced.

The goal of this lecture is to disclose linguistic devices used by official entities, as well as in everyday language, where we find on one hand military terms, and on the other hand euphemisms designated to minimize military facts, and present them in a more positive light. The special language used for the camouflage of military violence will be described from a pragmatic point of view, as well as critical linguistics and critical discourse perspectives (Fairclough 1995, 2001; Fowler 1996; Wodak & Meyer 2009).


Chilton, Paul. 1987. ‟Metaphor, euphemism and the militarization of language”. Current Research on Peace and Violence 10 (1): 7-19.

Chilton, Paul. 2004. Analysing Political Discourse: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.

Fairclough, Norman. 1995. Critical Discourse Analysis: The Critical Study of Language. Harlow, England: Longman.

Fairclough, Norman. 2001. Language and Power. London: Longman (revised ed.).

Fowler, Roger. 1996. Linguistic Criticism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gavriely-Nuri, Dalia. 2008. ‟The metaphorical annihilation of the Second Lebanon War (2006) from the Israeli political discourse”. Discourse & Society 19 (1): 5-20.

Lakoff, George. 2003. ‟Metaphor and war, again”.

Wodak, Ruth & Michael Meyer (eds.). 2009. Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Sage (2nd. ed.)



James Murphy

(University of Manchester –

“‘He has impugned my integrity’: how politicians in conflict pursue apologies”

Apologies are often viewed as a means of drawing a line under political conflict.  Political apologies see politicians (tacitly) admitting to having performed an offence, expressing their regret for it, and offering a tangible remedy and promising non-recurrence of the action (Murphy forthcoming). This paper will explore how the pursuit of an apology can have the opposite effect to ending conflict, instead making it more visceral and keeping it in the media spotlight.

The particular episode which will be explored concerns the fall-out from an interview the U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, gave to The Spectator magazine.  In the 2012 interview he alleged that former Cabinet Minister and current Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, was `clearly involved’ in the LIBOR scandal, which saw banks colluding on and rigging interest rates.  This led to angry confrontations in the House of Commons, described by one journalist as ‘one of the most brutal [he had] seen in Parliament’, in which Balls sought to have Osborne ‘provide the evidence [for the allegation] or withdraw and apologise’ (Hansard 05/07/12, column 1117).

The exchanges demonstrate how the apology can be turned into a ‘political football’: with Balls describing the lack of apology from Osborne as demonstrating a lack of integrity, whilst simultaneously arguing that if an apology was forthcoming that it would represent a humiliation for Osborne.  This type of catch-22 set-up will be analysed using the notion of equivocation (Bavelas 2009).

The parliamentary exchanges will also be explored in terms of their complex participation structure (Levinson 1988), with consideration given to how an apology was pursued on Balls’ behalf by other Members of Parliament, and how this was resisted by Osborne.  I will also discuss how the parliamentary turn-taking norms were exploited by Balls in this debate, forcing Osborne to make interventions in which he refuses to apologise and resisting interventions from the Chancellor’s colleagues.

I will conclude by discussing how the usually ‘polite’ act of apologising may be used as a ‘conventionalised prelude to impoliteness’ (Culpeper 2011:177), adding to the repertoire of rhetorical devices available to politicians in conflict.


Bavelas, Janet. 2009.  ‘Equivocation’ In: Harry Reis & Susan Sprecher (eds.), Encyclopedia of Human Relationships. 537-539. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Culpeper, Jonathan. 2011. Impoliteness: Using language to cause offence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Levinson, Stephen. 1988. ‘Putting linguistics on a proper footing: Explorations in Goffman’s participation framework’.  In: Paul Drew & Anthony Wootton (eds.), Goffman: Exploring the interaction order. 161-227. Oxford: Polity Press.

Murphy, James. forthcoming. Revisiting the apology as a speech act: The case of parliamentary apologies. To appear in Journal of Language and Politics.


Bartholomäus Nowak

“Questions in the Polish Sejm – Information seeking or conflict strengthening?”

Parliamentary rules, multiple addressing, or restrictions on the right to speak are distinctive phenomena and influential on a deputy’s speech in parliamentary discourse. Other specifics in parliamentary discourse are the particularities of questioning or the deliberative provocation of dissent. Of course, questions in parliament not only aim at better comprehension or seeking for new information, they could be threatening as requests for action by the government (Chilton 2004). According to Ilie (2006), questions without the aim of seeking information prevail in parliamentary discourse.

One recurrent question type in parliament are rhetorical questions. The consideration of only two types of questions – information seeking and rhetorical questions – is insufficient, but a clear segregation in rhetorical and for instance leading or tag questions, seems not possible. Thus, in this paper by reference to different question types and its pragmatic functions (Athanasiadou 1991; Ilie 1994; 1999; Rhode 2006) I will attempt to analyze the practice of questioning in the Polish Sejm. To achieve that, I will build up a small corpus of Polish parliamentary debates, extract questions from the corpus and classify them. Since questions without information seeking character could strengthen the political cleavage, the framework of impoliteness theory is crucial in the paper, too. (Bousfield 2008; Culpeper et al. 2003). Building up the corpus of Polish parliamentary discourse, special attention was given to the conflictual character of certain text types within all parliamentary communication.

All results achieved are part of the research project „Implicit communicative strategies of contemporary political communication in Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic“ at the Slavic Department of the University of Zurich, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. However, in this paper only Polish samples taken into account, with special focus on the interrogative and impolite speech acts in parliamentary discourse.


Athanasiadou, Angeliki (1991) The discourse functions of questions. Pragmatics, vol.1 (1). 107-22.

Bousfield, Derek (2008) Impoliteness in interaction. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Chilton, Paul (2004) Analysing political discourse. Theory and practice. London: Routledge.

Culpeper, Jonathan, Derek Bousfield, and Anne Wichmann (2003) Impoliteness Revisited: With

Special Reference to Dynamic and Prosodic Aspect. Journal of Pragmatics 35. 1545–79.

Ilie, Cornelia (1994) What Else Can I Tell You? A Pragmatic Study of English Rhetorical Questions as Discursive and Argumentative Acts. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.

Ilie, Cornelia (1999) Question-response argumentation in talk shows. Journal of Pragmatics 31.


Ilie, Cornelia (2006) Parliamentary Discourses. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics 2nd

Edition. Keith Brown (ed.). Vol. 9. Oxford: Elsevier. 188-96.

Rhode, Hannah (2006) Rhetorical Questions as Redundant Interrogatives. San Diego Linguistics

Papers 2. 134-68. 


 Clene Nyiramahoro


“Understanding the Kinyarwanda concept of ‘inzigo’ as a cultural ethos of conflict and its implications for the reconciliation process in Rwanda”

The purpose of this paper is to suggest a new path of thoughts in the search for solutions to lasting healing and peace in a society that has been characterized by, what scholars, such as Bar-Tal (1998a) and others, have called, “intractable conflict”.

In the attempt to understand the conceptualization of conflict in the Rwandan culture, I will analyze the concept of “inzigo” that describes some mental states and attitude towards an individual or a group of people who are considered “permanent enemy or permanent adversary”, usually after a murder has occurred.  “Uguhoora inzigo” or the act of “vengeance” is a cultural practice that was carried out by the victim’s lineage on any male, including children, from the murderer’s lineage. It was always required in cases of any killing even if it was involuntary. Members of those lineages had to be always vigilant to avoid any surprise, for any act of vengeance came as a surprise. In cases where the act of vengeance became impossible, other strategies were adopted including disguised friendship, a strategy to “defeat the enemy’s vigilance” (Sperber et al 2010). My claim is that the belief in vengeance still exists, though most of the time unperceived, and constitutes the main motivation in violent conflicts.

I will show that the concept and other related concepts such as “inziika”(a derived noun from the verb “ziika” or to burry), have encyclopaedic entries and are encoded concepts, which, in some particular contexts—family, ethnic group, government—get some specific meaning, that of ad hoc concepts. The term “inziika” refers to hatred that is deep-rooted in the minds of people, and becomes like sickness that only can heal after an act of vengeance or “guhoora inzigo” is carried out. Any attempt to create a peaceful environment in the Rwandan context, will need to establish a new “sociopsychological repertoire” (Bar-Tal & Rosen 2009:563), or reconstruct what relevance theory calls, new “encyclopaedic entries”, to include positive elements that will lead to positive cognitive effects.

Relevance theory (Sperber & Wilson 1995), and social psychologists’ (Bar-Tal 1998a, 2009) accounts will be the basis of my analysis.


 Jim O’Driscoll

(University of Huddersfield – j.o’

“Putting one’s footing in it: How unintended offence is caused in email”

This paper is an exploration into one facet of unmotivated impoliteness. It addresses a matter that many of us have experienced first-hand – that, of all media of communication, email seems to be the one most vulnerable to the causing of unintended offence. To do so, the paper examines the different participation frameworks, production formats and other interactional settings (Goffman 1981) which pertain in different communication media, particularly those of CMC (Herring 2007). It uses the notion of situational transformation (O’Driscoll 2013) to argue that the participation frameworks in all instances of non-face-to-face modes of communication are not just objective but also subjective; as a result, they are both mutable and contestable and this is why offence can so often be taken in such cases. The exploration is conducted through the detailed analysis of one example in which offence was taken when it was not intended, when mock aggression was received as actual aggression.


Goffman, Erving 1981. Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Herring, Susan C. 2007. A Faceted Classification Scheme for Computer-Mediated Discourse. Language@Internet 1/2007 (, urn:nbn:de:0009-7-7611.

O’Driscoll, Jim (2013). Situational transformations: the offensive-izing of an email message and the public-ization of offensiveness. Pragmatics & Society 4.3: 369–387.


 Eva Ogiermann

(King’s College London –

“Perceptions and displays of Polish and British rudeness in an online discussion forum”

Since Culpeper’s pioneering work on linguistic impoliteness (1996) studies of interpersonal communication have increasingly focused on conflictive and aggressive language.

The present study analyses impoliteness and verbal conflict from an intercultural perspective. The data used in the study have been derived from online forum discussions explicitly devoted to the topic of (the lack of) politeness and rudeness of Polish and British people.

While previous research on culture-specific perceptions of impoliteness (e.g. Culpeper et al 2010, Ogiermann & Suszczyńska 2011) tended to rely on retrospection (reports, interviews), the methodology adopted in the present study makes it possible to examine both aspects of first-order im/politeness originally distinguished by Eelen (2001), i.e. conceptual and action-related.

As the anonymity of computer mediated communication encourages bluntness and disregard for face, the forum discussions not only involve examples of culture-specific perceptions of impoliteness but also judgments which can be interpreted as portraying a particular nation as rude.

Such judgments are likely to be perceived as insulting by members of that nation, and their rejection often results in a ‘counter-attack’ involving the use of aggressive language constructing the person defending their nation as rude, and thus confirming the judgment.

Accordingly, the paper analyses impoliteness and aggression both on a meta- and a discursive level, with the data providing access to participants’ conceptualisations and opinions as well as production of impoliteness and aggression. The study draws on a total of 1275 posts dating between 2007 and 2012. The authors of these posts are predominantly Polish citizens living in English-speaking countries, such as the UK and USA, and British and American people living in Poland. The language of the forum is English.


Culpeper, J. (1996). Towards an anatomy of impoliteness. Journal of pragmatics, 25(3), 349-367.

Culpeper, J., Marti, L., Mei, M., Nevala, M., & Schauer, G. (2010). Cross-cultural variation in the perception of impoliteness: A study of impoliteness events reported by students in England, China, Finland, Germany and Turkey. Intercultural Pragmatics, 7(4), 597-624.

Eelen, G. (2001). A Critique of Politeness Theories. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.

Ogiermann, E. & Suszczyńska, M. (2011). “On im/politeness behind the Iron Curtain.” In F. Bargiela and D. Kádár (eds) Politeness across Cultures. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 194-215.


 Rosa Mª Pacheco Baldó

(Universidad de Alicante –

The cultural dimensions of power and identity and the use of aggressive language at work by Peninsular Spanish and American English speakers

Among the impoliteness strategies that this work presents, the use of aggressive or rude language is one of the most remarkable one, as it clearly shows the cultural differences that peninsular Spanish and American English speakers have concerning the conceptions of power and identity. The different treatment of these cultural dimensions by these two communities reflects upon the language used at work both among colleagues and between bosses and employees.

This paper presents a study carried out over several Spanish and American films whose screenplay is set in a working environment.

This paper also presents a new taxonomy of the so called social characteristics of individuals. This is a new approach offered by the author of this research which reorganises the traditional concepts of face and social rights. These social characteristics are acquired by all human beings but are considered and emphasised differently by every culture. In other words, these social characteristics will be dealt with by every cultural group, depending on and according to the cultural values that the group has. These four social characteristics of individuals can be attacked or threatened by a series of impoliteness strategies that are grouped according to the kind of attack they refer to.


 Marla Perkins

(Northern Arizona University –

“Logical and linguistic aspects of verbal abuse: pragmatic and cognitive interactions”

Verbal abuse is a systematic violation of the basic logical assumptions that make communication, and the reparation of miscommunication and misunderstanding, possible.  In particular, the techniques of verbal abuse are violations of the logical law of non-contradiction that makes productive thinking possible, as well as of Grice’s Cooperative Principle.  In this paper, I analyze first the linguistic aspects of verbal abuse and propose an alternative to Grice’s Cooperative Principle for verbal abuse, based on the differences between cooperative and uncooperative verbal interaction. Specifically, verbal abuse relies on the idea that there are different conversational/discourse rules for the abuser and the abused, which is a violation of the one of the most fundamental general implicatures in pragmatics: that people are trying to communicate successfully; I include examples from verbally abusive discourse.  The pragmatic analysis then proceeds through additional types of implicatures and how verbal abuse violates them.  This analysis of the linguistic pragmatics of verbal abuse then leads into the ways in which verbal abuse attacks the cognitive foundation of communication, primarily by violating the law of noncontradiction, which states that ideas cannot have both property A and property not-A at the same time and in the same way.  Given the foundational nature of language to much of human interaction, experience, and cognition, I further suggest that this attack on crucial aspects of human cognition helps to explain the imageable brain damage that is done to people who are verbally abused (and abused in any way), as well as the focus that many abused people place on the verbal abuse despite there being, in many cases, what might be considered more severe types of abuse, such as physical brutality.  This material can also be applied to identifying verbal abuse and to providing appropriate assistance to those who are abused.  Gender-specific applications of this material are avoided, because the basic principles in language and logic are the same regardless of who is perpetrating and who is experiencing the abuse.


 Agnieszka Piskorska

(University of Warsaw –

“Explicit and implicit verbal aggression”

On the relevance-theoretic view (Sperber and Wilson 1986/95), understanding an utterance consists in constructing its base-level explicature, i.e. the proposition expressed, higher-level explicatures conveying speech-act descriptions and/or propositional attitudes, and implicatures. Each of these can be communicated with varying degrees of strength.

Verbal aggression, which is broadly conceived as an act intended to hurt the addressee of a message, can be expressed at any of the three levels of meaning and also via their combination.  Aggression at the explicit level of communication has been discussed within Relevance Theory by Mateo & Yus (2000, 2013) and hostility expressed via higher-level explicature in irony is mentioned e.g. by Wilson (2006).

In my talk I would like to analyse the role of the above-mentioned aspects of meaning construction (i.e. explicatures and implicatures) in communicating messages expressing aggression.  My main focus will be on developing an account of implicit aggression and contrasting it with explicit aggression in terms of the contribution of the particular levels of meaning to the overall interpretation and its effect on the hearer. I will attempt to show how the relevance-theoretic tools can be used to explain why, despite the intuition that explicitly communicated assumptions tend to be stronger than implicit ones, acts of implicit aggression can be perceived as equally, or even more hurtful than explicit ones.


Mateo, J. and F. Yus. “Insults: A relevance-theoretic taxonomical approach to their translation”. International Journal of Translation 12(1)(2000): 97-130.

Mateo, J. and F. Yus. “Towards an intercultural pragmatic taxonomy of insults”.  Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict 1(1)(2013): 87-114.

Sperber, D and D. Wilson. Relevance: Communication and cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.

Wilson, D. “The pragmatics of verbal irony: echo or pretence?”. Lingua 116 (2006): 1722-1743


 Isabella Poggi, Francesca D’Errico & Laura Vincze

(I.P.: University Roma Tre –; (F.DE.: University UniNettuno –; L.V.: University of Macerata)

“Insults: verbal and bodily, direct and indirect acts of discredit in Italian politics”

When people reciprocally communicate their contempt they may end up with insulting each other.

This paper outlines a model of insult in terms of a socio-cognitive view of multimodal communication, while setting apart insult among other classes of aggressive communicative acts like bad words, curse and swear, and finally proposing a typology of insults in Italian political blogs and talk shows.

Bad words are defined as words explicitly mentioning culturally tabooed areas, such as sexual and other bodily functions; a curse is an optative communicative or speech act whereby a Sender, in  some communication system, expresses a wish for a Third Entity (God, Fate or other), to let something bad happen to a Target; a swear, or imprecation, is a verbal or bodily behavior (a word, a punch on the table) expressing a Sender’s frustration, disappointment or anger for a negative event, and addressed to a Third Entity taken as responsible for it.

An insult is a communicative verbal or bodily act that a Sender S performs to discredit a Target T (a person, group, an object like an institution or its symbols) by classifying it in an “abasing category”: a category of entities seen as definitely inferior to one T pretends to belong: an animal, an inanimate object, a person of a lower class or race. Different from other discrediting acts, like accusation or criticism, an insult has the goals: 1. to attack the Target’s image before other people; 2. to offend the Target, i.e., to abase his honorability before others; 3. to attack the Target’s self-image, causing him to lose face before himself too; 4. to let the Target understand one’s intention of offending him.

The paper distinguishes verbal from bodily insults (e.g. telling someone “You’re a cuckhold” vs. raising one hand with raised index and little finger extended towards him) and direct from indirect insults (e.g., “stupid” vs. “this coffee [that you made] is disgusting”).

The work analyzes a corpus of verbal and bodily direct and indirect insults in Italian political debates and blogs, drawing a typology of abasing categories, and thus highlighting the evaluation criteria held in Italian politics.

Marianne Rathje

(University of Southern Denmark  – )

“Types of taboos in the speech of three Danish generations: Sexual vs. religious”

Young Danes are often accused of swearing all the time and thereby making the language bad. In my PhD thesis (Rathje 2010) I have investigated young people’s use of swear words as compared with middle-aged and older people’s swearing in the speech of three generations of Danish girls and women: Do young girls swear more frequently than older generations, do the generations use different types of swear words, and do young girls use more English swear words than the older generations The study shows that the three generations use the same amount of swear words when speaking – but it is different types of swear word that they use (cf. also Rathje 2011, Rathje forthcoming). Young Danish girls use English swear words and expletives from the taboo area “lower bodily functions”, whereas the middle-aged and older Danish women use Danish swear words, rephrased swear words and religious swearing. I also compared the use of swearing in intragenerational conversations with swearing in intergenerational conversations to find out whether the participants change the amount and type of expletives when the interlocutor’s age changes. The comparison revealed that the generations use the same types of swear words no matter who they are talking to, that is regardless of their interlocutor’s age, but the three generations all swear mostly with young people.


Rathje, Marianne (2010): Generationssprog [Language Use in Three Generations], Dansk Sprognævns skrifter 43, København.

Rathje, Marianne (2011): ”Fuck, fandme og for pokker. Danske bandeord i tre generationers talesprog” [Fuck, fandme and for pokker. Danish swearing in the speech of three generations], in: Språk och stil 21, p. 81-109.

Rathje, Marianne (forthcoming): “Swearing in the speech of young girls, middle-aged women and           elderly ladies“, in: Jugendsprachen : kulturelle Stilisierungen und mediale Ressourcen/  Helga Kotthoff & Christine Mertzlufft (Hrsg.) – Frankfurt am Main : Peter Lang, 2012


Marianne Rathje

(University of Southern Denmark  – )

“Types of taboos in the speech of three Danish generations: Sexual vs. religious”

Young Danes are often accused of swearing all the time and thereby making the language bad. In my PhD thesis (Rathje 2010) I have investigated young people’s use of swear words as compared with middle-aged and older people’s swearing in the speech of three generations of Danish girls and women: Do young girls swear more frequently than older generations, do the generations use different types of swear words, and do young girls use more English swear words than the older generations The study shows that the three generations use the same amount of swear words when speaking – but it is different types of swear word that they use (cf. also Rathje 2011, Rathje forthcoming). Young Danish girls use English swear words and expletives from the taboo area “lower bodily functions”, whereas the middle-aged and older Danish women use Danish swear words, rephrased swear words and religious swearing. I also compared the use of swearing in intragenerational conversations with swearing in intergenerational conversations to find out whether the participants change the amount and type of expletives when the interlocutor’s age changes. The comparison revealed that the generations use the same types of swear words no matter who they are talking to, that is regardless of their interlocutor’s age, but the three generations all swear mostly with young people.


Rathje, Marianne (2010): Generationssprog [Language Use in Three Generations], Dansk Sprognævns skrifter 43, København.

Rathje, Marianne (2011): ”Fuck, fandme og for pokker. Danske bandeord i tre generationers talesprog” [Fuck, fandme and for pokker. Danish swearing in the speech of three generations], in: Språk och stil 21, p. 81-109.

Rathje, Marianne (forthcoming): “Swearing in the speech of young girls, middle-aged women and elderly ladies“, in: Jugendsprachen : kulturelle Stilisierungen und mediale Ressourcen/  Helga Kotthoff & Christine Mertzlufft (Hrsg.) – Frankfurt am Main : Peter Lang, 2012


 Mª Ángeles Ruiz Moneva

(University of Zaragoza –

“Aggression and conflict across contextual boundaries, context accessibility and context selection”

Misunderstandings seem to be a field particularly prone to the appearance of aggression and conflict. Within relevance theory, it is claimed that misunderstandings may arise as a result of the addressee’s mismatch of the cognitive environment and of the context pointed at by the speaker. Likewise, one of the main contributions of the theory has certainly been the approach to context as a cognitive entity, which is chosen by participants in any communicative interaction, on the basis of the accessibility that these have to the assumptions envisaged and presented in it.

Accordingly, this paper sets out to explore the ways in which the degree to of accessibility that participants may have to the context envisaged by the speaker may lead to differences in the expression of aggression and conflict. The analysis will be based on the Spanish literary work Celestina (Rojas, ca.1499) and in the three earliest English translations or adaptations of the work (Rastell, 1525; Mabbe, 1631; Captain Stevens, 1707) The specific interactions which will be analysed in the paper concern the following formats: monologues; dialogues; asides as replicated and reintroduced in dialogues. The notion of restricted context will be proposed to cope with those instances produced in monologues and in asides.


Marko Salonen

(University of Tampere –

Interaction and personhood in aggression education

Aggression education is relatively new form of training/sensitization towards controlling and reshaping emotions which are believed to lead into aggressive behavior. This presentation will empirically explore how the language of aggression education materials itself creates understanding on aggression as social action. What is personhood and interaction in the context of aggressive behavior?

The presentation deals with Finnish aggression education materials. It will present discursive analysis of books which explicitly address institutional educators and people who face problems with aggression in their own lives (self-help). Detailed analysis will be based on four recently published (2008- 2013) Finnish books on aggression.

The presentation will illustrate how aggression is not only defined something that just is, but also something that can be controlled and utilized for creative purposes. According to the data a person with aggressive tendencies is unequally positioned in interaction. Hence, it is argued that emancipated, self-controlled autonomous and equal individual becomes ideal image of a person in aggression education. The presentation ends in theorizing ideological meanings of this aggression discourse in wider cultural and societal context.


 José Santaemilia Ruiz & Sergio Maruenda Bataller

(J.S.R.: IULMA-Universitat de València –; S.M.B.: IULMA-Universitat de València  –

“Meaning and evaluation in construing media discourses of gender violence: ‘Woman’ and the representation of affect in the Spanish contemporary press”

‘Woman’ is a key social actor, and a prominent concept, in the construction of media discourses of gender-based violence. Previous studies (Bengoechea 2000, Lledó 2002, Fernández Díaz 2003) overwhelmingly show that, in reporting male-female violence, Spanish newspapers tend to offer distorted accounts of the events, presenting the view that it is only abnormal men who resort to violence against women, thus naturalizing average male behaviour as non-violent, and (in)directly blaming women for violent episodes. In the Spanish press, media discourses tend to naturalize male aggression not as violence but as part of the (private) sexual arrangement between the sexes. The driving force of these discourses ensuing social debate is a combination of socio-ideological tensions and of semantic/pragmatic negotiation. Thus, media constructs a particular model of the social and moral order. News reporting stands as “a value laden, ideologically determined discourse with a clear potential to influence the media audience’s assumptions and beliefs about the way the world is and they way it ought to be” (White 2006: 37).

In this paper, we draw on the framework of evaluation/appraisal (Martin & White 2005; White 2006) to explore the treatment of the term ‘woman’ (mujer in Spanish) in gender-based violence newspaper articles from 2005 to 2010. We specifically focus on the attitudinal value of affect to unveil the (linguistic) means –quality, processes and comment- by which social actors positively or negatively evaluate the participants, the events and state-of-affairs from the viewpoint of feelings and emotions (Martin & White 2005: 35, 42).

Attitudinal meanings – in terms of semantic/discourse prosodies (Louw 1993; Sinclair 1991, 2000; Stubbs 2001) – reveal/influence discursive patterns and help us trace evaluative relations/meanings (Martin & White 2005). In the evaluation framework, attitudinal evaluations or meanings show different degrees of explicitness, following the Gricean approach to the semantics/pragmatics distinction. Thus, explicitness –attitudinal inscription- involves the use of locutions or lexical items “which carry an attitudinal value (…) which is largely fixed and stable across a wide range of contexts (White 2006: 39). On the other hand, implicitness –attitudinal token- entails “formulations where there is no single item which, of itself and independently of its current context, carries a specific positive or negative value” (White 2006: 39). We will argue for a more flexible approach to the form-meaning bynomy, largely based on lexical pragmatics (Wilson 2003; Wilson & Carston 2007), where meanings constitute a network or constellation of discursive concepts which contribute to shaping and (de)legitimising citizens’ discourses and rhetorical frameworks within communities of practice. Therefore, in this paper we draw on corpus linguistics (Baker et al 2008) and on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (Fairclough & Wodak 1997). This heterogeneous methodological approach substantiates our account of both the linguistic representation and the ideological underpinnings of the diverse texts we are investigating.

Our aim is, therefore, two-fold: (i) to test whether the conceptualization and representation of ‘woman’ (and women) in contemporary media discourse has changed or is changing over the last few years; and (ii) to help unveil the expectations about gender, sexuality and power implicit in public discourses about violence against women.


Baker, Paul et al (2008) “A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press”. Discourse and Society 19(3): 273-306.

Bengoechea, Mercedes (2000) “En el umbral de un nuevo discurso periodístico sobre violencia y agencia femenina: de la crónica de sucesos a la reseña literaria”. Cuadernos de Información y Comunicación 5: 9-22.

Bourdieu, Pierre (1991) Language and symbolic power. Cambridge: Polity Press. Ed. & introd. by John B. Thompson. Trans. Gino Raymond & Matthew Adamson.

Fairclough, Norman (2006) “Semiosis, mediation and ideology”. In Inger Lassen, Jeanne Strunck & Torben Vestergaard (eds.) Mediating Ideology in Text and Image: Ten Critical Studies. Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society & Culture Series. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 19-35.

Fairclough, Norman & Ruth Wodak (1997) “Critical Discourse Analysis”. In Teun van Dijk (ed.) Discourse as social interaction. London: SAGE. 258-284.

Fernández Díaz, Natalia (2003) La violencia sexual y su representación en la prensa. Barcelona: Anthropos.

Gay, William C. (1997) “The Reality of Linguistic Violence against Women.” In Laura O’Toole & Jessica Schiffman (eds.) Gender Violence: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. New York: New York University Press. 467-473.

Lledó, Eulàlia (2002) “Crònica d’un equívoc: La construcció d’una identitat femenina en les notícies sobre maltractaments”. Lectora 8: 87-97.

Louw, Billy (1993) “Irony in the text or insincerity in the writer? The diagnostic potential of semantic prosodies”. In M. Baker et al (eds.) Text & Technology: In honour of John Sinclair. Philadelphia/Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 157-176.

Martin, James and Peter White (2005) The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sinclair, John (1991) Corpus, Concordance, Collocation. Oxford: OUP.

Sinclair, John (2000) “Lexical Grammar”. Naujoji Metodologija 24: 191-203.

Wilson, Deirdre (2003) “Relevance Theory and lexical pragmatics”. Italian Journal of Linguistics/Rivista di Linguistica 15: 273-291.

Wilson, Deirdre & Robyn Carston (2007) “A unitary approach to lexical pragmatics: Relevance, inference and ad hoc concepts”. In Noel Burton-Roberts (ed.) Pragmatics. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 230-259.


Carmen Santamaría García

(University of Alcalá –

“The use of hyperbole for aggression and conflict on social networking sites”

This article explores the use of hyperbole on social networking sites (henceforth SNSs) with special attention to the important role it plays in the language of aggression and conflict in this internet-mediated genre. Hyperbole, traditionally studied in rhetoric and literary contexts, has been more recently explored in the context of exaggerated assertions for interpersonal meaning in conversation (McCarthy and Carter 2004). I will focus on the use of hyperbole for the expression of attitude (affect and feelings), judgement and appreciation following appraisal theory (Martin and White 2000, 2005, Hunston and Thompson 2000) and combining their model with politeness theory (Brown and Levinson 1987, Eelen, 2001, Lakoff and Ide 2005, Locher and Watts 2005, Spencer-Oatey 2002, Watts 2003, Watts, Ide and Ehlich 2005), in an attempt to explore the interactive meanings of hyperbole favoured by users when building personal relationships on SNSs. My data will be extracted from one particular site, i.e., Facebook, and from interaction among friends, as distinct from other academic or professional types of interaction on this SNS (See Yus, 2011 and Santamaría-García, forthcoming). The corpus for this study consists of 300 messages sent among friends in the United Kingdom and the United States during 2010-2011. The methodology for processing the data borrows techniques from Corpus Linguistics (CL), and combines its typically quantitative approach with the more qualitative one by Conversation Analysis (CA) and Discourse Analysis (DA), as done in previous research (Santamaría García 2011). The results show that hyperbole features with high frequency in the expression of evaluation on SNSs. Some of the instances analysed suggest a process of conventionalisation of hyperbole, i.e. they no longer seem to retain their metaphorical force. On the other hand, some users are highly creative with hyperbole and their use seems to play an important role in attracting the addressees’ interest and their involvement both with the messages and their sender, contributing to their positive faces.


Brown, P. and S. Levinson. 1987. Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Eelen, G. 2001. A Critique of Polienesss Theories. St. Jerome: Manchester.

Hunston, S. and G. Thompson (eds.) [2000] 2003. Evaluation in Text. Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lakoff, R. & Ide, S. 2005. Broadening the Horizons of Linguistic Politeness. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.


Han Seung-Hoon

(Sogang University –

A new pragmatic approach to intentional miscommunications in family discourse: six types of actions”

This study aims to introduce new analytical framework to account for intentional or malicious miscommunication(s) in family discourse in Korea by combing action theoretical perspective (Bratman, 1984, 1987, 1992a, 1992b, 1993, 2009) with cooperation concept (Grice, 1969/ 1975).

Intentional or malicious miscommunication(s) are fundamentally different from non-intentional ones. In the former, an agent on purpose block most of illocutionary forces connoted in utterances that the other party intends to convey or deliberately distort all the meanings – e.g., sentence as well as intended one. Thus, not only is conflict being more and more multiplied (“conflict-spirals” in Culpeper et al. 2003) but any mitigating attempts including various verbal acts are useless or even harmful during interaction. On the contrary, the latter refers to the ordinary mistakes when he cannot hear words or utterances that the other party intends to convey because of extra or intra interrupting factors – e.g., noise, cross-cultural value, distraction owing to all other thoughts and etc. Culpeper (1996, 2003) holds the importance of intention when an agent makes use of impoliteness verbal acts in interaction with others. Impoliteness verbal acts are closely related to agent’s intention in many ways (see Culpeper et al. 2003; Kienpointner, 1997; Limberg, 2009). These acts may be the most serious stimuli for miscommunications being brought about. Besides, most of them may be consciously done by an agent’s deliberate intention, belief, attitude and plan.

In this regard, we have contrived two Preliminary Conditions by using four philosophical concepts mentioned above and two meaning-layers. The ‘First Preliminary Conditions’ (FPC), designed by combining Bratman’s action theory (intention, belief, attitude, plan) with Grice’s cooperation concept, classify the specific conversational actions predicted in the interrelationships between speaker and hearer (addressee) into six types. The ‘Second Preliminary Conditions’ (SPC), designed by the combination of the FPC with the two meaning layers, classify them depending on individual meaning layer. Both allow us to take hearer as well as speaker to be an independent agent, so that we can analyze each agent’s language-usages from balanced perspectives by escaping from the speaker-oriented approach that might have been the most crucial issue to many standard linguistic studies. Besides, they give us opportunities to think about why each agent, especially who is family member, intentionally or maliciously adopts offensive verbal acts including impoliteness linguistic acts to a greater extent.


Bach, K., & Harnish, R. M. (1979). Linguistic Communication and Speech Acts. Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England: MIT Press, 3-59; 76-82; 108-123; 173-174.

Bratman, M. E. (1984). Two Faces of Intention, Philosophical Review, 93 (3), 375-405.

Bratman, M. E. (1987). Intention and Evaluation. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 10 (1), 185-189.

Bratman, M. E. (1992a). Planning and the Stability of Intention. Minds and Machines, 2 (1), 1-16.

Bratman, M. E. (1992b). Shared Cooperative Activity. Philosophical Review, 101 (2), 327-341.

Bratman, M. E. (1993). Shared Intention. Ethics, 104 (1), 97-113.

Bratman, M. E. (2009). Intention, Practical Rationality, and Self-Governance, Ethichs 119, 411-443.

Brown, G. (1995). Speakers, listeners and communication; Explorations in discourse analysis. 1-41; 201-233.

Culpeper, J. (1996). Towards an anatomy of impoliteness. Journal of pragmatics, 25, 349-367.

Culpeper, J., & Bousfield, D., & Wichmann, A. (2003). Impoliteness revisited: with special reference to dynamic and prosodic aspects. Journal of Pragmatics, 35, 1545-1579.

Grice, H. P. (1967/ 1975). Logic and conversation. In P. Cole and J. L. Morgan, eds. 41-58.

Kienpointner, M. (1997). Varieties of rudeness: Types and functions of impolite utterances, Functions of Language, 4 (2), 251-287.

Limberg, H. (2009). Impoliteness and threat responses. Journal of Pragmatics, 41, 1376-1394.

Spencer-Oatey, H (2000). Rapport Management: a framework for analysis. Culturally Speaking: Managing Rapport through Talk Across Cultures, London, Continuum, 11-46.


 Valeria Sinkeviciute

(University of Antwerp –

“‘There’s definitely gonna be some serious carnage in this house’ or how to be deliberately impolite in Big Brother UK

It is quite easy to conceive of a number of conventionalised impoliteness formulae that, depending on a context, do not lead to the hearer’s evaluations of impoliteness, but are rather seen as instances of jocular banter that are interpreted as non-impolite. However frequent this practice can be among the speakers of English, one should bear in mind that the speaker can also be aiming at directly and deliberately threatening the hearer’s face. In that case it would be his/her main interactional goal being explicitly communicated, recognised by the participants in a conversation and, most certainly, successfully achieved. In this presentation, I am going to look at some examples of unmitigated face-threat and its reception as well as perception by not only the target, but also by the speaker him/herself and the third party (i.e. other hearers that are allowed to participate in a verbal situation). All the examples are taken from the reality show Big Brother UK 2012 that, apart from being an excellent source of versatile interactional practices, provides an opportunity to observe the effects of verbal aggression developing over time. The key objectives of this study is to find out (1) what triggers deliberate aggression on the speaker’s part (e.g. (non-)verbal behaviour in general, a specific topic of a conversation or the hearer’s personal characteristics); (2) how impoliteness is verbally manifested (e.g. which aspect of the hearer is targeted); and (3) what are the evaluations of these verbal conflicts as well as their consequences for the speaker (e.g. the role of the metalanguage, whether the speaker offers his/her apologies or how s/he is treated by the participants, especially taking into consideration the nature of the show).


 Maria Sivenkova

(Minsk State Linguistic University –

Metacommunication and language aggression in British, German and Russian parliamentary debates, political interviews, blogs and webchats

The monitoring of compliance with various communicative rules can be regarded as a strategic task in political dialogue, since catching an opponent red-handed gives the speaker a number of benefits. As a linguistic result of a successful monitoring, the sequential structure of question-answer sequences becomes more complicated due to the appearance of negative evaluative turns in which the breach of rules is exposed.

The study focuses on negative evaluative metapragmatic moves incorporated in the sequential structure of questions and answers in British, German and Russian parliamentary debates, political interviews and in online discussions occurring in politicians` blogs and webchats with political agents, in which communicators reproach each other for various communication errors and glitches. The aim is to analyse the linkages between meta-stimuli and meta-responses embedded in political dialogue across the four genres of political discourse.

The following parameters are addressed in the study: (i) preferred types of negative evaluative metapragmatic moves, (ii) their potential for conflict escalation, and (iii) the move’s position in interaction.

On the first parameter, negative evaluative metapragmatic moves fall into three broad categories: evaluations of the quality of information (e.g. its credibility and timeliness), evaluations of the quantity of information (insufficient or excessive), and criticism of certain features of the opponents’ verbal behaviour (e.g. inappropriate communicative style, breach of phonetic, lexical or grammatical rules).

On the second parameter, the escalating pattern of linkage between meta-stimuli and meta-responses, in which meta-moves incorporated in questions elicit escalating talk-about-talk in answers, is investigated across the data sets.

Thirdly, some tentative conclusions are made as to how a move’s interactional position affects the appearance of negative evaluative metapragmatic comments in political dialogue. For example, in blog discussions, there are some differences between responses and follow-ups understood as an interactional move following a response to an opening move differing from a response in its predictability as a socially desirable but optional form of conversational input.

As a more immediate type of reaction, criticisms incorporated in responses are generally more clichéd, less sophisticated and less diverse than those occurring in follow-ups, representing a type of conversational uptake that is heavily dependent on reflection and reasoning, since they are generated later in a discussion, which gives the commentator an opportunity for a more in-depth analysis of the communicative situation.


 Stefanie Stadler

(Nanyang Technological University –

Mismanaged conflicts and their effects in intercultural business meetings

Conflict, is – arguably – one of the greatest inhibitors to successful interaction and desirable interactional outcomes. The importance of avoiding or minimizing conflict is not least visible in that an entire profession of mediation practice has come into existence. This is particularly important in the arena of intercultural business communication and negotiations, partly because cross-cultural differences make communication all the more difficult to master and partly because business deals depend on successful negotiations. Needless to say, conflict gets in the way of desirable business outcomes. The successful management of potential conflict and the resolution of said conflicts are vital for both business relations and effectiveness. In this paper, I discuss conflict situations in an intercultural business meeting, how the various respective cultural practices interfere with the negotiation process and how interactants attempt to manage and resolve disagreement, differences and resulting conflicts. A discourse analysis approach of a video-recorded intercultural business meeting forms the basis for this discussion, in which I will demonstrate cultural differences in the approach to dealing with conflict in communication and the accumulative negative effect of unresolved and mismanaged dissent during the meeting.


 Tanja Staehler

(University of Sussex II –

The origins of conflict on the threshold to language”

In this presentation, I propose to examine pre-verbal origins of conflict and their development on the threshold to language. I suggest distinguishing between three dimensions:

(a) elemental pre-conflict (lack or discomfort, such as hunger, tiredness);

(b) conflict-centred on objects;

(c) interpersonal conflict.

Once speech allows articulating these conflicts, we find confirmation that pragmatics provides useful conceptual tools for understanding (b) and (c), whereas (a) designates merely a pre-conflict. The most basic conflict about an object arises from wanting to have this object, i.e., wanting to have “this” as “mine”. In addition to the pragmatic understanding of deixis, GWF Hegel will give philosophical justification for the importance of deixis as they mark the difference between mere sense-certainty on the elemental level and grasping an object as identical (Phenomenology of Spirit, Chapters 1-2).

Interpersonal conflict in its original shape can be explained with the help of the turn-taking structure. Infants aim for responses to their calls which emerge on different levels: calling for attention, wanting to be picked up, etc.  If the other person fails to respond or take their turn, the conflict becomes visible by way of the child expressing his or her unhappiness. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who is arguably the most pragmatic phenomenologist, insists and, quite rightfully in my opinion, that we understand such a conflict as a clash between meaning and meaning, where each involves a contextual as well as interactive analysis.

Object-conflict and interpersonal conflict tend to emerge together, especially when wanting to have a “forbidden” object or when fighting with peers or siblings for an object. The infant’s insistence on wanting “this” to be “mine” right “here” and “now” is a recipe for conflict, and growing up means learning to negotiate and postpone this sense of urgency. Different ways of expressing and resolving conflicts will be analysed with the help of brief video excerpts presenting object-centred arguments between three siblings at different stages of language development (6 months, 2 years, 7 years).


Fletcher, JA & Garman, M. (eds.), Language Acquisition. Cambridge UP: Cambridge, 1979.

Hegel, GWF, Phenomenology of Spirit. Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1977.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Child Psychology and Pedagogy. The Sorbonne Lectures 1949-1952. Northwestern UP: Evanston, 2010.

Stern, Daniel, The Interpersonal World of the Infant. A View from Psychoanalysis and Developmental Psychology. Basic Books: London, 1998.


 Jill Surmont

(Vrije Universiteit –

Language aggression in the classroom: Is Content and Language Integrated Learning the antidote?”

There is a large inflow of pupils with a different home language in classrooms in Belgium’s capital Brussels. Officially, Brussels is a bilingual city, with French and Dutch language communities. However, in reality, Brussels is a multilingual city, and this is reflected in its classrooms. In many schools of the Dutch-education system, there are hardly any monolingual Dutch-speaking students left. Pupils often only have a limited knowledge of Dutch and in many cases French is only their second or third language (Janssens, 2013). There is no official regulation on how to respond on this multilingualism and often schools have a “Dutch-only” policy. However, it becomes more and more clear that this is not the way to go and schools are looking for help on how to deal with this situation.

Contend and language integrated learning (CLIL) may be the solution for this societal challenge. The interest in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is growing. It is put forward by European language policies as an instrument to attain good proficiency in three languages at the end of secondary education. Research has shown that CLIL is a very efficient teaching method: not only do pupils obtain better results for both target and instruction language, but their motivation also increases and there is a positive influence on both cognitive and brain development (see Van de Craen et al. 2012; Lorenzo et al. 2009). However little is known about the influence of CLIL on the wellbeing of primary school pupils. This paper will answer the question whether CLIL can be a tool to reduce language aggression in the classroom. Data on pupils’ wellbeing were collected in four matched schools in Brussels, two of which use the CLIL approach.


Janssens, R. (2013): Meertaligheid als cement van de stedelijke samenleving. Een analyse van de Brusselse taalsituatie op basis van taalbarometer 3. BRIO & VUBPress, Brussel

Van de Craen, P., Surmont, J., Mondt, K., Ceuleers, E. (2012): Twelve Years of CLIL Practice in Multilingual Belgium in G. Egger & C. Lechner (eds) Primary CLIL Around Europe. Learning in Two Languages in Primary Education, pp.81 – 97, Tectum Verlag-Marburg

Lorenzo, F., Casal S. & Moore P. (2009): The Effects of Content and Language

Integrated Learning in European Education: Key Findings from the Andalusian Bilingual Sections Evaluation Project’. Applied Linguistics Advance Access published November 20th.


 Shonna Trinch

(John Jay College –

Rape taboos, stance, and the privatization of the public secret”

In this presentation, I investigate how reviewers take either silence-sustaining or silence-breaking stances in online/internet reviews of anti-terrorism expert, Jessica Stern’s (2010) book, Denial: A memoir of terror. In the memoir, Stern writes about her rape and its aftermath. Ortner (1974) in “Is female to male as nature is to culture,” argues that proof that women are subordinated to men in culture is found, among other places, in the explicit statements people make about women. Thus, to garner current cultural understandings of rape and of a woman who has experienced sexual violence, I analyze how people recontextualize the story of this uncontroversial rape by an uncontroversial narrator. I collected, categorized and analyzed 47 reviews from professional reviewers at major newspapers such as, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, from ‘citizen reviewers’ found on major commercial bookstores’ websites as well as those on everyday readers’ blogs (cf. Allan and Thorsen, 2009). Using the sociolinguistic resource of stance as my analytic (Jaffe 2009), I find that writers align their reviews in ways that either authorize or de-authorize the narrator and/or her narrative. By authorize, I mean reviewers take up Stern’s disclosure as a powerful mechanism to combat longstanding sociocultural taboos that tend to shame women into silence and denial. Conversely, de-authorizing alignments suggest that rape should be further enshrouded because listening to it is difficult and because Stern’s frank speaking is transgressive and thus dangerous to potential interlocutors. In the data then, there are three types of recontextualizations of rape: (1) those that continue to allow gendered myths and stereotypes to interfere with uptake of a rape narrative as a site of knowledge, (2) those that suggest that this rape narrative provides unique opportunities from which to learn about rape, trauma and resilience that could be of benefit to any other reader and (3) those that suggest that what Stern has to say is important, but private, and thus interlocutors should, for themselves, decide whether to know about rape as more than just the public secret (Taussig 1999), or whether rape should be maintained in its privileged, private place.


Allan, S. and E. Thorsen. 2009. Introduction. In S. Allan and E. Thorsen (eds.), Citizen journalism: Global Perspectives, 1-16. New York, Peter Lang.

Jaffe, Alexandra. 2009. Stance: Sociolinguistic perspectives. New York, Oxford University Press.

Ortner, Sherri B. 1974. Is female to male as nature is to culture? In M. Z. Rosaldo and L. Lamphere (eds.), Women, culture and society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp. 68-87.

Stern, Jessica. 2010. Denial: A memoir of terror. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.Taussig, Michael. 1999. Defacement: Public Secrecy and the Labor of the Negative. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.


 Sandra Vázquez Hermosilla

(Universitat de València –

Linguistic sexism in the digital media”

Attending to its discursive and pragmatic nature, indirect linguistic sexism is understood here as the most pernicious manifestation of the phenomenon of sexist language (Mills 2003, 2008). This can be conceived as an attitude directed towards people in virtue of their belonging to a specific biological sex and, according to which, certain features and behaviours are assumed (Lameiras & Rodríguez 2003). Paying attention to these supposed attributes, forms of linguistic aggression can be expressed, whether directly or indirectly, that unveil the negotiations of gender identities, gender ideologies and power in discourse.

In the digital era, institutional discourses advocate for the elimination of any form of public linguistic aggression. However, digital media users (Livingston and Lievrow 2002) may locally manifest sexist attitudes in a veiled way that, although apparently less damaging, does inevitably contribute to gender ideologies and the gender order (Eckert and McConnell-Ginet 2003).

In this light, this paper examines how linguistic aggression by means of the phenomenon of indirect linguistic sexism is manifested and negotiated in the context of virtual socio-ideological texts (online discussion forums) associated to institutional discourses (online magazines: Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health) targeted at specific communities of practice ([heterosexual] men and women from the UK consumers and participants of these discourses).

A corpus of 2.500.000 words is categorised following Mills’ (2008) classification of indirect linguistic sexism. Due to particular medium and social factors, the category of humour stands out as a salient one in relation to the manifestation of hidden linguistic aggression. A combined method of analysis coined CM(FC)DA – Computer-Mediated Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis (Herring 2003, 2004, 2007; Lazar 2005, 2007) is used to unveil the way negotiations of power and gender (in)equalities are carried out in this specific digital environment.

The main findings suggest that indirectness is mainly used in online environments ascribed to institutional discourses in order to verbally attack people on the basis of sexual or gender issues. The mask of indirect linguistic sexism allows digital media users to manifest sexist attitudes while negotiating their own social and gender identities in conformity with the specificities of particular communities of practice.


 Julie Villessèche

(University Lumière Lyon II –

Defining language aggression through institutional cultures: a comparative study of English and French film classification policies

The objective of this presentation is to introduce a particular case of language aggression. This definition we are going to analyse is permeated by an institutional and cultural context: language aggression through a film classification perspective. The main question will be: what does a comparative study of English and French film language policies highlight in regard to the questions of language aggression?

Film classification in the United Kingdom as in France is handled by a single institution. In the UK, it is the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification), created in 1912. In France, since 1946, it is the CNC (Centre National du Cinéma). The category associated with language aggression by both institutions is called “strong language” (BBFC) or “vulgar language” (CNC). This definition depends on the variety of actors taking part in the process of classification. So it explains partly the differences we find between the BBFC and the CNC. The first relies on examiners to define what is language aggression for young audiences. The second relies on translators and examiners.

So the issue is both a question of reaction to a particular register, to types of words, but also of perception of those words in the perspective of classifying a film. Those categories (strong, vulgar language) are very important because the words inside them trigger a reaction (1. reaction of the examiner, 2. anticipated reaction of the audience). The words are identified from a potential public reaction viewpoint. Another element is that the BBFC is entirely dedicated to classification. In France, classification is undertaken by a commission inside the CNC. The CNC principal function is promoting, financing French films.

So, the purpose of this presentation will be to show that defining language aggression in films is bound to institutional language policies. Firstly, this paper will quickly introduce the British and French system of classification. And secondly, it will compare the commonalities and differences taking part in the definition of language aggression according to those institutions. Thus, the targeted aim is to propose to look at film classification as the expression of a particular language aggression policy set by an institutional and cultural context, through a sociolinguistic viewpoint.


Dimitra Vladimirou & Juliane House

(Hellenic American University –; Hamburg University & Hellenic American University –

“Questions and impoliteness in online settings”

Questions have been discussed in the literature as doing more than just seek information. As Schegloff (1984) suggests, they may function as invitations, requests or complaints.  Similarly, Sacks (1995) points to their potential as powerful discursive actions, capable of controlling the talk and Koshik (2005) shows how they can be used as accusations and challenges to present and non-present parties in interaction. Still, the link between questions and impoliteness has not been made explicit enough in the literature. This study aims to fill this gap by exploring questions and impoliteness in a flamewar – an ‘extended online argument involving disagreements and verbal hostility’ (Perelmutter 2013: 75).

Our analysis, embedded in interactional and discursive approaches to impoliteness, examines a corpus of 219 responses to a letter entitled ‘The Greek language has to remain intact’, published in a primary school teachers’ forum.  We address the following questions:

1. How is impoliteness co-constructed and negotiated amongst participants through the use of questions?

2. What are the functions of aggressive questions in the sequential unfolding of online interaction?

Our quantitative results point to the particularly high frequency of non-information seeking questions. Our results further illustrate how a specific type of aggressive rhetorical questions is used as a controlling device (see also coercive impoliteness, Culpeper 2011), threatening participants’ individual and group face. We will demonstrate how creativity and exploitative entertainment are played out in the sequential exchanges amongst participants. We argue that the ubiquity of aggressive questions leads to an escalation of impoliteness. This link between impoliteness and the use of questions might be attributed to the lack of face to face interaction in online spaces, such that, these settings now function as spaces for social and political action-often of a very aggressive nature.


Culpeper, J. (2011). Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offense. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Koshik, I. (2005). Beyond Rhetorical Questions: Assertive Questions in Everyday Interaction. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Perelmutter, R. (2013). ‘Klassika zhanra: The flamewar as a genre in the Russian blogosphere’. Journal of Pragmatics 45: 74-89.

Sacks, H. (1995). Lectures on Conversation. Malden, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Schegloff, E. A. (1984). ‘On Some Questions and Ambiguities in Conversation.’ In J. M.

Atkinson & J. Heritage (Eds.), Structures of Social Action (pp. 28–52). Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.


 Ewa Walaszewska

(University of Warsaw –

“The offensiveness of animal metaphors: A relevance-theoretic view”

The undeniable ubiquity of animal metaphors in languages seems to be related to the natural human inclination towards metaphoric expression which, as Lawrence (1997: 1) has aptly observed, “finds its greatest fulfillment through reference to the animal kingdom.” Animal metaphors are generally regarded as classic examples in the literature on metaphor, e.g. Richard is a gorilla (Searle 1979) or My lawyer is a shark (Glucksberg 2001); the more so since they have been used as illustrations of metaphor since Antiquity, e.g. Aristotle’s metaphor The lion rushed (with lion referring to a man). Even though animal metaphors can be used to express a wide variety of meanings, they are typically associated with two extremes of meaning. At one extreme are terms of endearment (e.g. pet names for children or lovers); at the other extreme are expressions which convey negative evaluation (hostility, disgust, contempt, etc).

It needs to be mentioned that animal metaphors and their derogatory power have long attracted scholars of various backgrounds and interests. For example, in his anthropological study, Leach (1964) shows the relationship between animal edibility and animal-related abusive terms; in a recent psychological study, Haslam, Loughnan and Sun (2011) focus on offensive animal metaphors with respect to the phenomenon of dehumanization; in the literature on cognitive linguistics, it is assumed that negative connotations resulting from the conceptualization of people as animals can be explained by reference to the hierachical structure of the Great Chain of Being (Lakoff and Turner 1989), according to which people are superior to (other) animals, and thus equating people with animals will degrade the former.

Even though the phenomenon of metaphor has been an extensively discussed topic in relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson 1986/1995, Wilson and Sperber 2012), little attention has been paid to the offensiveness of metaphorical statements (a notable exception is Mateo and Yus (2013) and their discussion of insults). The aim of this paper is to offer a relevance-theoretic analysis of offensive metaphors on the example of animal metaphors. What is suggested is an analysis of such cases in terms of ad hoc concepts, now well-established in relevance theory, supplemented with the idea that negative evaluation could be explained with reference to impressions (affective (non-propositional) effects).


Glucksberg, S. 2001. Understanding Figurative Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Haslam, N., S. Loughnan and P. Sun. 2011. Beastly: What makes animal metaphors offensive? Journal of Language and Social Psychology 30(3): 311-325.

Lakoff, G. and M. Turner. 1989. More than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Lawrence, E. 1997. Hunting the Wren. Transformation of Bird to Symbol. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

Leach, E. 1964. Anthropological aspects of language: Animal categories and verbal abuse. In: E. H. Lenneberg (ed.). New Dimensions in the Study of Language. Cambridge: MIT Press, 23-64.

Mateo, J. and F. Yus. 2013. Towards a cross-cultural pragmatic taxonomy of insults. Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict 1(1): 87-114.

Searle, J. 1979. Expression and Meaning. Cambridge University Press.

Sperber, D. and D. Wilson. 1986/1995. Relevance: Communication and Cognition. 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell.

Wilson, D. and D. Sperber. 2012. Meaning and Relevance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


 Daniel Weiss

(Universität Zürich –

“How to attack by quotes in Russian political discourse”

Quotations serve manifold purposes in political discourse: they may support one’s own arguments or undermine the adversary’s position (Constantinescu 2010), simply entertain the audience, enhance the prestige of the current speaker, etc.  Due to the antagonistic and multi-addressed character of political discourse, they often manage to achieve more than one of these goals at the same time. The source of the quotation may be either related to current political issues or provided by politically neutral preceding texts including the Bible, folk wisdom (proverbs, popular jokes, etc.), history, literature, film, pop music, advertising, etc. (Weiss 2012). My paper aims at elucidating different types and functions of quotations by interpreting them within a neo-Griecean framework (Levinson 2001) and Relevance Theory (Sperber & Wilson 1986). This also calls  for an account of other “two-voiced” phenomena, such as pseudo-quotation, parody and irony (Kotthoff 2002). The data stems mainly from recent debates in the Russian State Duma (200 examples) which will be contrasted with verbal agitation on oppositional posters and Internet sources, such as hashtags (Lunde 2013) and blogs. Special attention will be given to divergencies between these genres with regard to preference for certain subtypes of quotes (e.g. “double-layer quotes”), linguistic creativity manifested by the blending of different quotes or the deformation of the original, e.g., by means of an anti-proverb, or the metacommunicative marking of the citation. Other topics to be explored are the impact of the given utterance on the politeness (Ilie 2010) and impoliteness management (Bousfield 2008), but also the nature of the triggering event (repressive new laws, punitive measures against individual deputies, provocative statements by President Putin, controversial national holidays, etc.). Moreover, the reactions of those attacked by the quotation will be taken into account as far as possible; they reach from mere correction and retroactive identification of the source to the presentation of counterarguments, direct counterattacks or blunt disregard.


Bousfield, D., (2008), Impoliteness in interaction. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Constantinescu, M. N. (2012), The Use of Quotations in the Romanian Parliamentary Discourse, in L. Ionescu-Ruxăndoiu, M. Roibu, and M. V. Constantinescu (eds.), Parliamentary Discourses across Cultures: Interdisciplinary Approaches, 263-82. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Ilie, C. (2010), Managing dissent and interpersonal relations in the Romanian parliamentary discourse, in C. Ilie (ed.) European Parliaments under Scrutiny: Discourse strategies and interaction practices, 193-221. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Kotthoff, H. (2002), Irony, quotation, and other forms of staged intertextuality. Double or contrastive perspectivation in conversation, in: Graumann, K., and W. Kallmeyer (eds.), Perspective and Perspectivation in Discourse, 201–229. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Levinson, S. C. 2000. Presumptive meanings: The Theory of Generalised Conversat­ional Implicature. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Lunde, I. (2013), #Hashtag Poetics: Political Humour on Russian Twitter. Paper held at the Conference ‘Ain’t misbehavin? Implicit and Explicit Strategies in Eastern European Political Discourse’, Zurich, October 19-20.

Sperber, D. and D.Wilson. Relevance. Communic­at­ion and Cognition. Oxford 1986.

Weiss, D. (2012), Deputaty ljubjat citaty [Deputies like quotes], in N. N. Rozanova (ed.), Rusistika sego­dnja 5: Problemy rečevogo obščenija [Russian linguistics today: Problems of verbal commun­ication], 63-74. Moskva: Izdatel’stvo «Flinta», Izdatel’stvo «Nauka».


 Julia T. Williams Camus

(Universidad de Cantabria –

A contrastive analysis of the use of the war, violence and aggression source domain in English and Spanish popularisations on cancer

The presence of war metaphors in cancer discourse was famously frowned upon by Susan Sontag in Illness as Metaphor (1978). In this essay the author called for a metaphor-free view of the disease due to the negative effects that such a bellicose rendering could have on cancer patients. Although Sontag’s account was published more than 30 years ago, recently published patient blogs and newspaper columns opposing war metaphors are keeping Sontag’s legacy alive. Nevertheless, it is now accepted that metaphors are a fundamental device in language (Lakoff and Johnson 1980) serving important cognitive, communicative and discursive functions (Semino 2008). It is, therefore, difficult, if not impossible, to conceive of a cancer discourse free from metaphorical terms and, since war metaphors are well entrenched in the manner in which specialists conceptualise and discuss the disease, the total elimination of such tropes seems a utopian enterprise. In spite of this, a study of how these metaphors are used could help to determine whether their use is inevitable or whether the same meaning could be expressed by other means. In this presentation I examine the use of metaphors from the war, violence and aggression source domain in a comparable corpus of 300 popularisations drawn from the English (The Guardian and The Times) and Spanish (El País and El Mundo) press. The analysis of the metaphors was carried out mostly manually with the aid of a corpus software program (Scott 1997). The metaphorical candidates from the two subcorpora were then compared quantitatively and qualitatively for cross-cultural differences in terms of their frequency, patterning and functions. The analysis shows that metaphorical expressions from the war, violence and aggression source domain are indeed pervasive. Although cancer is metaphorised in a similar way in the two languages in the context of the press, noticeable differences between the English and Spanish subcorpora were observed that render the discourse of the latter less aggressive.


Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Scott, M. (1997) WordSmith Tools. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Semino, E. (2008) Metaphor in Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sontag, S. (1978) Illness as Metaphor. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


 Alexey Yavetskiy & Natalia Yavetskaya

(A.Y.: Moscow State University of Psychology and Education –; N.Y.: Moscow State Linguistic University –

“‘A man is known by the gadget he keeps’: Aggression as cognitive (re)construction”

In new environments created by new technologies (McLuhan 2013 (1964)), the symbolic importance of devices quite often seems to outmatch their actual functions. For instance, media coverage of Apple products demonstrates that their primary purpose ‒ to serve as a means of communication ‒ may shift from the focus of attention. Instead, users and non-users alike increasingly consider such gadgets to be an important sign of their owners’ status, which is likely to trigger various cognitive effects in communication (Sperber and Wilson 1995).

One of such effects, aggression, will be examined in this paper. Our aim is to account for how the symbolic relevance of a gadget may lead to aggression in virtual communication. Another objective is to understand whether linguistic aggression caused by the symbolic function of a popular gadget is culture-specific. To this end, we base the research on comments left by US and Russian users on web pages dedicated to new Apple products.

The first part of the paper deals with communication strategies which may result in aggression – primarily, self-representation. It is shown that the pragmatic relevance of a gadget may lead to linguistic aggression (explicit as well as implicit, e.g. through humour) towards the gadget itself, its producer, its owner, etc.

The second part provides a cognitive account of the implicatures generated by linguistic aggression. For instance, it is argued that the communicators constantly reconstruct their counterpart’s knowledge about a gadget. Such behaviour may result in cognitive domination, i.e. when the speakers reconstruct themselves as being more informed than their counterparts. These conclusions could be further used in critical discourse studies (van Dijk 2009) for identifying and avoiding aggression in virtual communication.


van Dijk, T. (2009), Critical Discourse Studies; A sociocognitive Approach, in: R. Wodak & M. Meyer (Eds.), Methods of critical discourse analysis (pp. 62‒85). London: Sage.

McLuhan, M. (2013 (1964)), Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Berkeley: GINGKO PRESS.

Sperber, D., Wilson D. (1995), Relevance: Communication and Cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.


 Ran Yongping

(Guangdong University of Foreign Studies –

The mitigating strategies for interpersonal conflicts in official discourse”

Interpersonal pragmatics designates examinations of the relational aspects of interactions between people that both affect and are affected by their understandings of culture, society, and their own and others’ interpretations (Locher & Graham 2010: 2). Linguistic strategies can be found accordingly for fulfilling interpersonal purposes or functions, since conflict and mitigation are two interrelated sides affecting interpersonal relationships, the speaker may escalate the conflict, which shows his rapport-challenging orientation, or adopt strategies to mitigate it, which shows his rapport-management orientation (Spencer-Oatey 2000).

Within interpersonal pragmatics, this study aims to explore mitigating strategies in conflictive contexts and the relation between power and those strategies. In terms of the unequal power relations in collected data of Chinese official discourse (official novels), in which the characters are divided into the superiors with higher official ranks and the subordinates with lower official ranks. It is going to seek answers for such questions: What mitigating strategies can be found when conflict occurs in superior-subordinate interactions? What interpersonal purposes are fulfilled by these strategies and how does the choice of these strategies adapt to unequal power relations?

This study first takes mitigating strategies as a group of redressive strategies used to weaken verbal confrontation between the superiors and the suborinates, reduce the antagonism or tension between them and finally achieve a communicative goal in official settings. After classification, the study analyses their interpersonal purposes within the framework of Verschueren’s (1999) linguistic adaptation theory, and how mitigating strategies are chosen for adapting to unequal power relations in official discourse.

This study is likely to provide some implications for the handling of interpersonal conflicts in official settings. Only when proper strategies are used to deal with conflicts, can interpersonal purposes be achieved successfully and a harmonious relationship be constructed.


Locher, M. A. & S. L. Graham. 2010. Introduction to interpersonal pragmatics. In M. A. M. A. & S. L. Graham (eds.) Interpersonal Pragmatics. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter Mouton, 1-11.

Spencer-Oatey, H. 2000. Culturally Speaking: Managing Rapport through Talk across Cultures. London: Continuum.

Verschueren, J. 1999. Understanding Pragmatics. London/New York: Edward Arnold.


 Samuel Zakowski

(Ghent University –

In this paper, I present an analysis of the Ancient Greek imperative expression eipé moi (‘tell me’) in the collected works of Aristophanes, Plato, Demosthenes and Menander (Homer is referred to as well). I argue that it checks all the boxes of a parenthetical expression – it is syntactically optional, positionally mobile and non-truth-conditional. Importantly, it is a semantically superfluous addition to the utterance – it is always accompanied by a question, which already entails an expectation that the hearer will say something. As such, its function should be located at the pragmatic (and not the semantic) plane of discourse.

Eipé moi’s function is described in terms of speech acts. While both eipé moi and the question with which it occurs are directive, I argue that they are not equivalent and should be separated – we are, then, actually dealing with two speech acts in the same utterance. The question is semantically primary, as it contains the content of what the speaker means to convey. Eipé moi’s only purpose lies in marking the question – as such, it is ancillary to the semantically primary speech act and has no independent function.

Eipé moi’s precise function lies in increasing the directness of the question. Direct utterances are liable to occur when the speaker is less concerned with conversational conventions and politeness. Imperatives are very direct – under normal circumstances, speakers avoid giving the impression that they are telling their interlocutors what to do; with imperatives, of course, the speaker does not go to any trouble to disguise his or her goal.

The contexts in which eipé moi appears seem to lend credence to this analysis. Eipé moi often occurs in utterances where the speaker’s strong emotions (anger, fear, surprise) have pushed his or her (unconscious) concern for politeness and conversational conventions to the background. For example, eipé moi is often collocated with insults, which are, of course, also very direct elements of the discourse – these cases testify to the fact that the speaker is annoyed with his/her interlocutor’s behavior and directly confronts him or her with it.


Vladimir Žegarac, Joy Caley & Joanna Bhatti

(V. Ž.: University of Bedfordshire; J.C.: The English Language Centre  -

“Mindfulness and relevance: Managing rapport in the English language classroom”

Communicative behaviour can be described as more or less relevant and as more or less mindful. Relevance is a measure of cognitive efficiency: a positive function of worthwhile information and a negative function of mental processing effort. Mindfulness has been characterised as ‘a state of openness to novelty in which the individual actively constructs categories and distinctions’ (Langer, 1992: 289). Both ‘relevance’ (Sperber and Wilson, 1986/95) and ‘mindfulness’ (Sernberg, 2000; Gudykunst, 2004; Kruger, 2005) have received considerable attention in cognitive and social perspectives on communication, respectively, but (to the best of our knowledge) the two concepts have never been brought together. The first part of this paper presents an argument which shows that ‘mindfulness’, as a construct in psychology, can be described plausibly as the disposition for using the best strategy (where the term ‘strategy’ is taken to mean ‘an approach for achieving a goal’) in pursuit of optimally relevant communicative acts and interpretations.

The second part of the paper considers several critical incidents in the EFL classroom interaction between teachers and students. First, describe some situations where language which could be described as aggressive and impolite (e.g. ‘If you do this again, I will kick your arse’) is used effectively to establish positive rapport between the teacher, the student and the whole group. Secondly, we consider some situations where language which is neither overtly aggressive or rude (e.g.  the utterance ‘because God is very busy’) can damage the rapport between teacher and the student(s). We make a case for the view that a plausible pragmatic account of these incidents can be given provided the concepts of ‘relevance’ and ‘mindfulness’ are brought together in a principled way.