Plenary Speakers IWoDA 2016

Biber, Douglas

How to express evaluation without stance: Informational persuasion on the web

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Previous corpus-based research on lexico-grammatical stance features has documented marked patterns of register variation (see, e.g., Biber and Finegan 1989; Biber et al. 1999; Gray and Biber 2014). For example, spoken registers generally use stance features to a greater extent than written registers. Within writing, personal registers (e.g., letters or email messages) and overtly opinionated registers (e.g., editorials) employ stance features to a greater extent than registers with a primary informational purpose (e.g., newspaper reportage or academic research articles).

The focus of the present study is on a specialized type of register that emerged from a project that analyzed register variation on the searchable web (see Biber et al. 2015, Biber and Egbert in press). In that project, end-users determined both the set of possible register categories as well as the register of each individual document. This approach resulted in a taxonomy with eight general register categories (e.g., narration, opinion, informational description, interactive discussion) as well as several “hybrid” registers (e.g., informational-opinion).

In this talk, I will argue that learner corpus research needs to re-focus its epistemology and strengthen the use of what I call general corpus research methods. Traditional CIA-related findings and, in particular, an over-reliance on analysis of errors or “non-native” speaker underperformance need to be re-examined so as to go beyond the limitations of CIA and contribute to the body of data of interest to SLA researchers outside the corpus linguistics community. 

One especially interesting web register to emerge from this analysis is “informational-persuasion”, which also occurs in several “hybrid” combinations (e.g., opinionated-informational-persuasion). What makes this register especially noteworthy for the study of lexico-grammatical stance is the disconnect between our prior expectations and the actual linguistic characteristics typically found in these documents. Our expectation was that the documents classified by end-users as “informational persuasive” would employ lexico-grammatical stance features, similar to “opinion” web registers. However, corpus analysis challenges these preconceptions: while “opinion” documents regularly employ lexico-grammatical stance features, most lexico-grammatical stance features are relatively rare in “informational persuasion” documents. Hybrid documents with an “opinion” component (e.g., opinionated-information and opinionated-informational-persuasion) also regularly employ frequent lexico-grammatical stance devices.

These patterns are documented through quantitative corpus-based analyses of lexico-grammatical stance devices across the range of web registers. Then, based on keyword analyses, together with detailed discourse analyses of representative documents, we attempt to answer the specific question of how informational-persuasion documents express evaluation without frequent lexico-grammatical stance devices?

References

  • Biber, D., and E. Finegan. 1989. Styles of stance in English: Lexical and grammatical marking of evidentiality and affect. Text 9.93-124.
  • Biber, D., S. Johansson, G. Leech, S. Conrad, E. Finegan. 1999. The Longman grammar of spoken and written English. London: Longman.
  • Biber, D., J. Egbert, and M. Davies. 2015. Exploring the Composition of the Searchable Web: A Corpus-based Taxonomy of Web Registers. Corpora 10(1).11-45.
  • Biber, D., and J. Egbert. In press. Register variation on the searchable web: A multi-dimensional analysis. Journal of English Linguistics.
  • Gray, B., and D. Biber. 2014. Stance markers. In K. Aijmer and C. Rühlemann (eds.), Corpus Pragmatics: A Handbook, pp. 219-248. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Biographical note

Douglas Biber is Regents´ Professor of English (Applied Linguistics) at Northern Arizona University. His research efforts have focused on corpus linguistics, English grammar, and register variation (in English and cross-linguistic; synchronic and diachronic). He has written over 200 research articles, 8 edited books, and 15 authored books and monographs; these include a textbook on Register, Genre, and Style (Cambridge, 2009), the co-authored Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English (1999), and other academic books on grammatical complexity in academic English (Cambridge 2016), American university registers (Benjamins 2006), corpus-based discourse analysis (Benjamins 2007), and Multi-Dimensional Analyses of register variation (Cambridge 1988, 1995)..

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Boas, Hans

On the borrowing of English discourse markers into Texas German and Texas Spanish

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Hans Boas, University of Texas at Austin 

This talk offers new insights into on-going research on lexical borrowing in language contact situations by investigating how different types of English discourse markers are borrowed into two contact varieties in Texas. As such, this paper contributes to our understanding of the nature of the borrowing scale as proposed by Thomason and Kaufman (1988). The first part of the talk introduces the history of Texas German (Boas 2009) and Texas Spanish (Smith 1991), which have both been in contact with English for more than 150 years.

The second part of the talk reviews the distribution of English discourse markers such as well, you know, anyhow, and so, which have been borrowed into both contact varieties. Of particular interest here is the question of whether the English discourse markers fulfill similar conversational strategies in discourse or whether they differ from each other. In addition, it will be shown how the syntactic positions and the intonation of these English-origin discourse markers differ. The third part of the talk employs the principles and methods of Construction Grammar (Goldberg 1995) and Frame Semantics Fillmore (1982) to provide an analysis of English-origin discourse markers in Texas German and Texas Spanish. Finally, these findings will be compared with another contact variety, namely Texas Czech (Smith 1991), to arrive at a typologically more diverse characterization of discourse marker borrowings in Texas.

References

  • Boas, Hans C. The life and death of Texas German. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Diaz, M.E. A case study of Spanish language use in a Texas border colonia. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Brownsville.- Fillmore, C.J. Frame Semantics. In: Linguistics Society of Korea (ed.), Linguistics in the morning calm. Seoul: Hanshin, 111–138.
  • Goldberg, A. 1995. Constructions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Smith, C.S. The demise of Czech in two Texas communities. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Thomason, S. and T. Kaufman. 1988. Language contact, creolization, and genetic linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Biographical note

I am Professor of Germanic Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to Austin, I was a postdoctoral researchttp://www.iwoda.es/wp-admin/post.php?post=851&action=edit#her with the FrameNet project at the International Computer Science Institute and a research fellow in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, funded by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (“German Academic Exchange Service”). Prior to that, I studied law and linguistics at the Georg-August- Universität Göttingen, Germany. I received both my M.A. (thesis: The Passive in German) and my Ph.D. (dissertation: Resultative Constructions in English and German) in the Linguistics Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Taboada, Maite

Evaluation and subjectivity in the round: From lexis to discourse

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Maite TaboadaSimon Fraser University

The expression of evaluation, subjectivity and opinion is a central aspect of language. It allows us to convey feelings, assessments of people, situations and objects, and to engage with other opinion holders (Martin & White, 2005; Thompson & Alba-Juez, 2014). An increased interest in evaluation, subjectivity and opinion can be viewed as part of what has been termed “the affective turn” in philosophy, sociology and political science, and “affective computing” in artificial intelligence (Clough & Halley, 2007; Picard, 1997). This interest has met with the rise of the social web, and the possibility to widely broadcast emotions, evaluations and opinions (Pang & Lee, 2008).

The study of evaluation is particularly interesting from a linguistic point of view, because it cuts across all levels of the language, from lexicon to grammar and discourse. It is also interesting because various components of it have received treatment under very different theoretical approaches, from studies of stance in corpus linguistics (Biber & Finegan, 1988; Hunston, 2011) to research on negation and nonveridicality in formal linguistics (Giannakidou, 1995). The Appraisal framework within Systemic Functional Linguistics (Martin & White, 2005) provides what is perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of evaluation, but I will show in this talk that other areas and approaches can also make a contribution to how we view and analyze evaluation in language. I will focus on studies of subjectivity and point of view , the treatment of nonveridicality, and the influence that coherence relations have on the interpretation of evaluative statements, in particular, concessive and conditional relations (Trnavac, Das, & Taboada, to appear; Trnavac & Taboada, 2012). I will also discuss approaches to sentiment analysis in computational linguistics, and how our insights into evaluation have much to offer in that area (Taboada, 2016).

References

  • Biber, D., & Finegan, E. (1988). Adverbial stance types in English. Discourse Processes, 11(1), 1-34.
  • Clough, P. T., & Halley, J. O. M. (Eds.). (2007). The Affective Turn: Theorizing the Social. Durham, NC: Duke UP.
  • Giannakidou, A. (1995). On the semantic licensing of polarity items. In A.-P. Christidis, M. Margariti-Roga & A. Arhakis (Eds.), Studies in Greek Linguistics 15:Proceedings of the 15th Annual Meeting of the Department of Linguistics (pp. 406-418). Thessaloniki: University of Thessaloniki.
  • Hunston, S. (2011). Corpus Approaches to Evaluation: Phraseology and Evaluative Language. New York: Routledge.
  • Martin, J. R., & White, P. R. R. (2005). The Language of Evaluation. New York: Palgrave.
  • Pang, B., & Lee, L. (2008). Opinion Mining and Sentiment Analysis. Foundations and Trends in Information Retrieval, 2(1-2), 1-135.
  • Picard, R. W. (1997). Affective Computing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Taboada, M. (2016). Sentiment analysis: An overview from linguistics. Annual Review of Linguistics, 2, 325-347.
  • Thompson, G., & Alba-Juez, L. (Eds.). (2014). Evaluation in Context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Trnavac, R., Das, D., & Taboada, M. (to appear). Discourse relations and evaluation. Corpora. – Trnavac, R., & Taboada, M. (2012). The contribution of nonveridical rhetorical relations to evaluation in discourse. Language Sciences, 34(3), 301-318.

Biographical note

Maite Taboada is Professor of Linguistics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver (Canada). She holds Licenciatura and PhD degrees from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain), and an MSc in Computational Linguistics from Carnegie Mellon University (USA). Maite works in the areas of discourse analysis, systemic functional linguistics and computational linguistics, currently focusing on coherence relations in discourse and on sentiment analysis.

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