Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 16

Pragmatics Related Abstracts

16 An Experimental Study of Scalar Implicature Processing in Chinese

Authors: Liu Si, Wang Chunmei, Liu Huangmei

Abstract:

A prominent component of the semantic versus pragmatic debate, scalar implicature (SI) has been gaining great attention ever since it was proposed by Horn. The constant debate is between the structural and pragmatic approach. The former claims that generation of SI is costless, automatic, and dependent mostly on the structural properties of sentences, whereas the latter advocates both that such generation is largely dependent upon context, and that the process is costly. Many experiments, among which Katsos’s text comprehension experiments are influential, have been designed and conducted in order to verify their views, but the results are not conclusive. Besides, most of the experiments were conducted in English language materials. Katsos conducted one off-line and three on-line text comprehension experiments, in which the previous shortcomings were addressed on a certain extent and the conclusion was in favor of the pragmatic approach. We intend to test the results of Katsos’s experiment in Chinese scalar implicature. Four experiments in both off-line and on-line conditions to examine the generation and response time of SI in Chinese "yixie" (some) and "quanbu (dou)" (all) will be conducted in order to find out whether the structural or the pragmatic approach could be sustained. The study mainly aims to answer the following questions: (1) Can SI be generated in the upper- and lower-bound contexts as Katsos confirmed when Chinese language materials are used in the experiment? (2) Can SI be first generated, then cancelled as default view claimed or can it not be generated in a neutral context when Chinese language materials are used in the experiment? (3) Is SI generation costless or costly in terms of processing resources? (4) In line with the SI generation process, what conclusion can be made about the cognitive processing model of language meaning? Is it a parallel model or a linear model? Or is it a dynamic and hierarchical model? According to previous theoretical debates and experimental conflicts, presumptions could be made that SI, in Chinese language, might be generated in the upper-bound contexts. Besides, the response time might be faster in upper-bound than that found in lower-bound context. SI generation in neutral context might be the slowest. At last, a conclusion would be made that the processing model of SI could not be verified by either absolute structural or pragmatic approaches. It is, rather, a dynamic and complex processing mechanism, in which the interaction of language forms, ad hoc context, mental context, background knowledge, speakers’ interaction, etc. are involved.

Keywords: Cognitive Linguistics, Pragmatics, Chinese Language, experimental study, scalar implicture

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15 Pragmatic Discoursal Study of Hedging Constructions in English Language

Authors: Mohammed Hussein Ahmed, Bahar Mohammed Kareem

Abstract:

This study is concerned with the pragmatic discoursal study of hedging constructions in English language. Hedging is a mitigated word used to lessen the impact of the utterance uttered by the speakers. Hedging could be either adverbs, adjectives, verbs and sometimes it may consist of clauses. It aims at finding out the extent to which speakers and participants of the discourse use hedging constructions during their conversations. The study also aims at finding out whether or not there are any significant differences in the types and functions of the frequency of hedging constructions employed by male and female. It is hypothesized that hedging constructions are frequent in English discourse more than any other languages due to its formality and that the frequency of the types and functions are influenced by the gender of the participants. To achieve the aims of the study, two types of procedures have been followed: theoretical and practical. The theoretical procedure consists of presenting a theoretical background of hedging topic which includes its definitions, etymology and theories. The practical procedure consists of selecting a sample of texts and analyzing them according to an adopted model. A number of conclusions will be drawn based on the findings of the study.

Keywords: Pragmatics, Theoretical, hedging, politeness

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14 The Complaint Speech Act Set Produced by Arab Students in the UAE

Authors: Tanju Deveci

Abstract:

It appears that the speech act of complaint has not received as much attention as other speech acts. However, the face-threatening nature of this speech act requires a special attention in multicultural contexts in particular. The teaching context in the UAE universities, where a big majority of teaching staff comes from other cultures, requires investigations into this speech act in order to improve communication between students and faculty. This session will outline the results of a study conducted with this purpose. The realization of complaints by Freshman English students in Communication courses at Petroleum Institute was investigated to identify communication patterns that seem to cause a strain. Data were collected using a role-play between a teacher and students, and a judgment scale completed by two of the instructors in the Communications Department. The initial findings reveal that the students had difficulty putting their case, produced the speech act of criticism along with a complaint and that they produced both requests and demands as candidate solutions. The judgement scales revealed that the students’ attitude was not appropriate most of the time and that the judges would behave differently from students. It is concluded that speech acts, in general, and complaint, in particular, need to be taught to learners explicitly to improve interpersonal communication in multicultural societies. Some teaching ideas are provided to help increase foreign language learners’ sociolinguistic competence.

Keywords: Language Teaching, Pragmatics, Sociolinguistics, speech act, complaint

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13 Functions and Pragmatic Aspects of English Nonsense

Authors: Natalia V. Ursul

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In linguistic studies, the question of nonsense is attracting increasing interest. Nonsense is usually defined as spoken or written words that have no meaning. However, this definition is likely to be outdated as any speech act is generated due to the speaker’s pragmatic reasons, thus it cannot be purely illogical or meaningless. In the current paper a new working definition of nonsense as a linguistic medium will be formulated; moreover, the pragmatic peculiarities of newly coined linguistic patterns and possible ways of their interpretation will be discussed.

Keywords: Pragmatics, speech act, nonsense, nonse verse

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12 The Formation of the Diminutive in Colloquial Jordanian Arabic

Authors: Yousef Barahmeh

Abstract:

This paper is a linguistic and pragmatic analysis of the use of the diminutive in Colloquial Jordanian Arabic (CJA). It demonstrates a peculiar form of the diminutive in CJA inflected by means of feminine plural ends with -aat suffix. The analysis shows that the pragmatic function(s) of the diminutive in CJA refers primarily to ‘littleness’ while the morphological inflection conveys the message of ‘the plethora’. Examples of this linguistic phenomenon are intelligible and often include a large number of words that are culture-specific to the rural dialect in the north of Jordan. In both cases, the diminutive in CJA is an adaptive strategy relative to its pragmatic and social contexts.

Keywords: Pragmatics, Morphology, Colloquial Jordanian Arabic, diminutive

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11 Doctor-Patient Interaction in an L2: Pragmatic Study of a Nigerian Experience

Authors: Ayodele James Akinola

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This study investigated the use of English in doctor-patient interaction in a university teaching hospital from a southwestern state in Nigeria with the aim of identifying the role of communication in an L2, patterns of communication, discourse strategies, pragmatic acts, and contexts that shape the interaction. Jacob Mey’s Pragmatic Acts notion complemented with Emanuel and Emanuel’s model of doctor-patient relationship provided the theoretical standpoint. Data comprising 7 audio-recorded doctors-patient interactions were collected from a University Hospital in Oyo state, Nigeria. Interactions involving the use of English language were purposefully selected. These were supplemented with patients’ case notes and interviews conducted with doctors. Transcription was patterned alongside modified Arminen’s notations of conversation analysis. In the study, interaction in English between doctor and patients has the preponderance of direct-translation, code-mixing and switching, Nigerianism and use of cultural worldviews to express medical experience. Irrespective of these, three patterns communication, namely the paternalistic, interpretive, and deliberative were identified. These were exhibited through varying discourse strategies. The paternalistic model reflected slightly casual conversational conventions and registers. These were achieved through the pragmemic activities of situated speech acts, psychological and physical acts, via patients’ quarrel-induced acts, controlled and managed through doctors’ shared situation knowledge. All these produced empathising, pacifying, promising and instructing practs. The patients’ practs were explaining, provoking, associating and greeting in the paternalistic model. The informative model reveals the use of adjacency pairs, formal turn-taking, precise detailing, institutional talks and dialogic strategies. Through the activities of the speech, prosody and physical acts, the practs of declaring, alerting and informing were utilised by doctors, while the patients exploited adapting, requesting and selecting practs. The negotiating conversational strategy of the deliberative model featured in the speech, prosody and physical acts. In this model, practs of suggesting, teaching, persuading and convincing were utilised by the doctors. The patients deployed the practs of questioning, demanding, considering and deciding. The contextual variables revealed that other patterns (such as phatic and informative) are also used and they coalesced in the hospital within the situational and psychological contexts. However, the paternalistic model was predominantly employed by doctors with over six years in practice, while the interpretive, informative and deliberative models were found among registrar and others below six years of medical practice. Doctors’ experience, patients’ peculiarities and shared cultural knowledge influenced doctor-patient communication in the study.

Keywords: Pragmatics, communication pattern, doctor-patient interaction, Nigerian hospital situation

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10 Accentuation Moods of Blaming Utterances in Egyptian Arabic: A Pragmatic Study of Prosodic Focus

Authors: Reda A. H. Mahmoud

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This paper investigates the pragmatic meaning of prosodic focus through four accentuation moods of blaming utterances in Egyptian Arabic. Prosodic focus results in various pragmatic meanings when the speaker utters the same blaming expression in different emotional moods: the angry, the mocking, the frustrated, and the informative moods. The main objective of this study is to interpret the meanings of these four accentuation moods in relation to their illocutionary forces and pre-locutionary effects, the integrated features of prosodic focus (e.g., tone movement distributions, pitch accents, lengthening of vowels, deaccentuation of certain syllables/words, and tempo), and the consonance between the former prosodic features and certain lexico-grammatical components to communicate the intentions of the speaker. The data on blaming utterances has been collected via elicitation and pre-recorded material, and the selection of blaming utterances is based on the criteria of lexical and prosodic regularity to be processed and verified by three computer programs, Praat, Speech Analyzer, and Spectrogram Freeware. A dual pragmatic approach is established to interpret expressive blaming utterance and their lexico-grammatical distributions into intonational focus structure units. The pragmatic component of this approach explains the variable psychological attitudes through the expressions of blaming and their effects whereas the analysis of prosodic focus structure is used to describe the intonational contours of blaming utterances and other prosodic features. The study concludes that every accentuation mood has its different prosodic configuration which influences the listener’s interpretation of the pragmatic meanings of blaming utterances.

Keywords: Pragmatics, prosody, pragmatic interpretation, prosodic focus

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9 Spatial Deictics in Face-to-Face Communication: Findings in Baltic Languages

Authors: Gintarė Judžentytė

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The present research is aimed to discuss semantics and pragmatics of spatial deictics (deictic adverbs of place and demonstrative pronouns) in the Baltic languages: in spoken Lithuanian and in spoken Latvian. The following objectives have been identified to achieve the aim: 1) to determine the usage of adverbs of place in spoken Lithuanian and Latvian and to verify their meanings in face-to-face communication; 2) to determine the usage of demonstrative pronouns in spoken Lithuanian and Latvian and to verify their meanings in face-to-face communication; 3) to compare the systems between the two spoken languages and to identify the main tendencies. As meanings of demonstratives (adverbs of place and demonstrative pronouns) are context-bound, it is necessary to verify their usage in spontaneous interaction. Besides, deictic gestures play a very important role in face-to-face communication. Therefore, an experimental method is necessary to collect the data. Video material representing spoken Lithuanian and spoken Latvian was recorded by means of the method of a qualitative interview (a semi-structured interview: an empirical research is all about asking right questions). The collected material was transcribed and evaluated taking into account several approaches: 1) physical distance (location of the referent, visual accessibility of the referent); 2) deictic gestures (the combination of language and gesture is especially characteristic of the exophoric use); 3) representation of mental spaces in physical space (a speaker sometimes wishes to mark something that is psychically close as psychologically distant and vice versa). The research of the collected data revealed that in face-to-face communication the participants choose deictic adverbs of place instead of demonstrative pronouns to locate/identify entities in situations where the demonstrative pronouns would be expected in spoken Lithuanian and in spoken Latvian. The analysis showed that visual accessibility of the referent is very important in face-to-face communication, but the main criterion while localizing objects and entities is the need for contrast: lith. čia ‘here’, šis ‘this’, latv. šeit ‘here’, šis ‘this’ usually identify distant entities and are used instead of distal demonstratives (lith. ten ‘there’, tas ‘that’, latv. tur ‘there’, tas ‘that’), because the referred objects/subjects contrast to further entities. Furthermore, the interlocutors in examples from a spontaneously situated interaction usually extend their space and can refer to a ‘distal’ object/subject with a ‘proximal’ demonstrative based on the psychological choice. As the research of the spoken Baltic languages confirmed, the choice of spatial deictics in face-to-face communication is strongly effected by a complex of criteria. Although there are some main tendencies, the exact meaning of spatial deictics in the spoken Baltic languages is revealed and is relevant only in a certain context.

Keywords: Pragmatics, Semantics, Baltic languages, face-to-face communication, spatial deictics

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8 The Philippines’ War on Drugs: a Pragmatic Analysis on Duterte's Commemorative Speeches

Authors: Ericson O. Alieto, Aprillete C. Devanadera

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The main objective of the study is to determine the dominant speech acts in five commemorative speeches of President Duterte. This study employed Speech Act Theory and Discourse analysis to determine how the speech acts features connote the pragmatic meaning of Duterte’s speeches. Identifying the speech acts is significant in elucidating the underlying message or the pragmatic meaning of the speeches. From the 713 sentences or utterances from the speeches, assertive with 208 occurrences from the corpus or 29% is the dominant speech acts. It was followed by expressive with 177 or 25% occurrences, directive accounts for 152 or 15% occurrences. While commisive accounts for 104 or 15% occurrences and declarative got the lowest percentage of occurrences with 72 or 10% only. These sentences when uttered by Duterte carry a certain power of language to move or influence people. Thus, the present study shows the fundamental message perceived by the listeners. Moreover, the frequent use of assertive and expressive not only explains the pragmatic message of the speeches but also reflects the personality of President Duterte.

Keywords: Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, commemorative speech, duterte

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7 Discourse Analysis and Semiotic Researches: Using Michael Halliday's Sociosemiotic Theory

Authors: Deyu Yuan

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Discourse analysis as an interdisciplinary approach has more than 60-years-history since it was first named by Zellig Harris in 'Discourse Analysis' on Language in 1952. Ferdinand de Saussure differentiated the 'parole' from the 'langue' that established the principle of focusing on language but not speech. So the rising of discourse analysis can be seen as a discursive turn for the entire language research that closely related to the theory of Speech act. Critical discourse analysis becomes the mainstream of contemporary language research through drawing upon M. A. K. Halliday's socio-semiotic theory and Foucault, Barthes, Bourdieu's views on the sign, discourse, and ideology. So in contrast to general semiotics, social semiotics mainly focuses on parole and the application of semiotic theories to some applicable fields. The article attempts to discuss this applicable sociosemiotics and show the features of it that differ from the Saussurian and Peircian semiotics in four aspects: 1) the sign system is about meaning-generation resource in the social context; 2) the sign system conforms to social and cultural changes with the form of metaphor and connotation; 3) sociosemiotics concerns about five applicable principles including the personal authority principle, non-personal authority principle, consistency principle, model demonstration principle, the expertise principle to deepen specific communication; 4) the study of symbolic functions is targeted to the characteristics of ideational, interpersonal and interactional function in social communication process. Then the paper describes six features which characterize this sociosemiotics as applicable semiotics: social, systematic, usable interdisciplinary, dynamic, and multi-modal characteristics. Thirdly, the paper explores the multi-modal choices of sociosemiotics in the respects of genre, discourse, and style. Finally, the paper discusses the relationship between theory and practice in social semiotics and proposes a relatively comprehensive theoretical framework for social semiotics as applicable semiotics.

Keywords: Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, Ideology, sociosemiotics

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6 Use of Pragmatic Cues for Word Learning in Bilingual and Monolingual Children

Authors: Isabelle Lorge, Napoleon Katsos

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BACKGROUND: Children growing up in a multilingual environment face challenges related to the need to monitor the speaker’s linguistic abilities, more frequent communication failures, and having to acquire a large number of words in a limited amount of time compared to monolinguals. As a result, bilingual learners may develop different word learning strategies, rely more on some strategies than others, and engage cognitive resources such as theory of mind and attention skills in different ways. HYPOTHESIS: The goal of our study is to investigate whether multilingual exposure leads to improvements in the ability to use pragmatic inference for word learning, i.e., to use speaker cues to derive their referring intentions, often by overcoming lower level salience effects. The speaker cues we identified as relevant are (a) use of a modifier with or without stress (‘the WET dax’ prompting the choice of the referent which has a dry counterpart), (b) referent extension (‘this is a kitten with a fep’ prompting the choice of the unique rather than shared object), (c) referent novelty (choosing novel action rather than novel object which has been manipulated already), (d) teacher versus random sampling (assuming the choice of specific examples for a novel word to be relevant to the extension of that new category), and finally (e) emotional affect (‘look at the figoo’ uttered in a sad or happy voice) . METHOD: To this end, we implemented on a touchscreen computer a task corresponding to each of the cues above, where the child had to pick the referent of a novel word. These word learning tasks (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) were adapted from previous word learning studies. 113 children have been tested (54 reception and 59 year 1, ranging from 4 to 6 years old) in a London primary school. Bilingual or monolingual status and other relevant information (age of onset, proficiency, literacy for bilinguals) is ascertained through language questionnaires from parents (34 out of 113 received to date). While we do not yet have the data that will allow us to test for effect of bilingualism, we can already see that performances are far from approaching ceiling in any of the tasks. In some cases the children’s performances radically differ from adults’ in a qualitative way, which means that there is scope for quantitative and qualitative effects to arise between language groups. The findings should contribute to explain the puzzling speed and efficiency that bilinguals demonstrate in acquiring competence in two languages.

Keywords: Attention, Pragmatics, bilingualism, word learning

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5 Interlanguage Pragmatics Instruction: Evidence from EFL Teachers

Authors: Asma Ben Abdallah

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Interlanguage Pragmatics (ILP) Instruction has brought a lot of enlightenment for Foreign Language Teaching and has secured itself a deserved position in SLA research. In the Tunisian context, ILP instruction remains less explored for academics and educational practitioners. In our experience as teachers, both at secondary school and at university levels, the instruction and assessment of pragmatics seem to be contentious. This paper firstly introduces the theoretical models of Interlanguage pragmatics Instruction and focuses on their implications for foreign language teaching. This study builds on the work of Ben Abdallah (2015) that investigated the effects of pragmatic Instruction on Tunisian EFL Learners where pragmatic Instruction has been approached from the perspective of students and their learning strategies. The data for the present study, however, come from Tunisian EFL teachers by investigating their pragmatics practices and their perceptions of pragmatic instruction. The findings indicated that EFL teachers have pragmatic awareness; yet, their reflections revealed that their awareness was mostly on theoretical pragmatic knowledge, and not explicitly brought into practical pragmatic applications. The paper concludes by promoting pragmatics instruction with the suggestion that EFL teachers should teach pragmatics in class.

Keywords: Pragmatics, sla, interlanguage pragmatics theory, pragmatic instruction

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4 The Markers -mm and dämmo in Amharic: Developmental Approach

Authors: Hayat Omar

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Languages provide speakers with a wide range of linguistic units to organize and deliver information. There are several ways to verbally express the mental representations of events. According to the linguistic tools they have acquired, speakers select the one that brings out the most communicative effect to convey their message. Our study focuses on two markers, -mm and dämmo, in Amharic (Ethiopian Semitic language). Our aim is to examine, from a developmental perspective, how they are used by speakers. We seek to distinguish the communicative and pragmatic functions indicated by means of these markers. To do so, we created a corpus of sixty narrative productions of children from 5-6, 7-8 to 10-12 years old and adult Amharic speakers. The experimental material we used to collect our data is a series of pictures without text 'Frog, Where are you?'. Although -mm and dämmo are each used in specific contexts, they are sometimes analyzed as being interchangeable. The suffix -mm is complex and multifunctional. It marks the end of the negative verbal structure, it is found in the relative structure of the imperfect, it creates new words such as adverbials or pronouns, it also serves to coordinate words, sentences and to mark the link between macro-propositions within a larger textual unit. -mm was analyzed as marker of insistence, topic shift marker, element of concatenation, contrastive focus marker, 'bisyndetic' coordinator. On the other hand, dämmo has limited function and did not attract the attention of many authors. The only approach we could find analyzes it in terms of 'monosyndetic' coordinator. The paralleling of these two elements made it possible to understand their distinctive functions and refine their description. When it comes to marking a referent, the choice of -mm or dämmo is not neutral, depending on whether the tagged argument is newly introduced, maintained, promoted or reintroduced. The presence of these morphemes explains the inter-phrastic link. The information is seized by anaphora or presupposition: -mm goes upstream while dämmo arrows downstream, the latter requires new information. The speaker uses -mm or dämmo according to what he assumes to be known to his interlocutors. The results show that -mm and dämmo, although all the speakers use them both, do not always have the same scope according to the speaker and vary according to the age. dämmo is mainly used to mark a contrastive topic to signal the concomitance of events. It is more commonly used in young children’s narratives (F(3,56) = 3,82, p < .01). Some values of -mm (additive) are acquired very early while others are rather late and increase with age (F(3,56) = 3,2, p < .03). The difficulty is due not only because of its synthetic structure but primarily because it is multi-purpose and requires a memory work. It highlights the constituent on which it operates to clarify how the message should be interpreted.

Keywords: Pragmatics, Acquisition, Cohesion, connection, contrastive topic, contrastive focus, discourse marker

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3 Teaching Turn-Taking Rules and Pragmatic Principles to Empower EFL Students and Enhance Their Learning in Speaking Modules

Authors: O. F. Elkommos

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Teaching and learning EFL speaking modules is one of the most challenging productive modules for both instructors and learners. In a student-centered interactive communicative language teaching approach, learners and instructors should be aware of the fact that the target language must be taught as/for communication. The student must be empowered by tools that will work on more than one level of their communicative competence. Communicative learning will need a teaching and learning methodology that will address the goal. Teaching turn-taking rules, pragmatic principles and speech acts will enhance students' sociolinguistic competence, strategic competence together with discourse competence. Sociolinguistic competence entails the mastering of speech act conventions and illocutionary acts of refusing, agreeing/disagreeing; emotive acts like, thanking, apologizing, inviting, offering; directives like, ordering, requesting, advising, and hinting, among others. Strategic competence includes enlightening students’ consciousness of the various particular turn-taking systemic rules of organizing techniques of opening and closing conversation, adjacency pairs, interrupting, back-channeling, asking for/giving opinion, agreeing/disagreeing, using natural fillers for pauses, gaps, speaker select, self-select, and silence among others. Students will have the tools to manage a conversation. Students are engaged in opportunities of experiencing the natural language not as a mere extra student talking time but rather an empowerment of knowing and using the strategies. They will have the component items they need to use as well as the opportunity to communicate in the target language using topics of their interest and choice. This enhances students' communicative abilities. Available websites and textbooks now use one or more of these tools of turn-taking or pragmatics. These will be students' support in self-study in their independent learning study hours. This will be their reinforcement practice on e-Learning interactive activities. The students' target is to be able to communicate the intended meaning to an addressee that is in turn able to infer that intended meaning. The combination of these tools will be assertive and encouraging to the student to beat the struggle with what to say, how to say it, and when to say it. Teaching the rules, principles and techniques is an act of awareness raising method engaging students in activities that will lead to their pragmatic discourse competence. The aim of the paper is to show how the suggested pragmatic model will empower students with tools and systems that would support their learning. Supporting students with turn taking rules, speech act theory, applying both to texts and practical analysis and using it in speaking classes empowers students’ pragmatic discourse competence and assists them to understand language and its context. They become more spontaneous and ready to learn the discourse pragmatic dimension of the speaking techniques and suitable content. Students showed a better performance and a good motivation to learn. The model is therefore suggested for speaking modules in EFL classes.

Keywords: Pragmatics, Communicative Competence, Speech Acts, EFL, turn taking, empowering learners, enhance learning, teaching speaking, learner centred

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2 Collaborative Stylistic Group Project: A Drama Practical Analysis Application

Authors: Omnia F. Elkommos

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In the course of teaching stylistics to undergraduate students of the Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the linguistic tool kit of theories comes in handy and useful for the better understanding of the different literary genres: Poetry, drama, and short stories. In the present paper, a model of teaching of stylistics is compiled and suggested. It is a collaborative group project technique for use in the undergraduate diverse specialisms (Literature, Linguistics and Translation tracks) class. Students initially are introduced to the different linguistic tools and theories suitable for each literary genre. The second step is to apply these linguistic tools to texts. Students are required to watch videos performing the poems or play, for example, and search the net for interpretations of the texts by other authorities. They should be using a template (prepared by the researcher) that has guided questions leading students along in their analysis. Finally, a practical analysis would be written up using the practical analysis essay template (also prepared by the researcher). As per collaborative learning, all the steps include activities that are student-centered addressing differentiation and considering their three different specialisms. In the process of selecting the proper tools, the actual application and analysis discussion, students are given tasks that request their collaboration. They also work in small groups and the groups collaborate in seminars and group discussions. At the end of the course/module, students present their work also collaboratively and reflect and comment on their learning experience. The module/course uses a drama play that lends itself to the task: ‘The Bond’ by Amy Lowell and Robert Frost. The project results in an interpretation of its theme, characterization and plot. The linguistic tools are drawn from pragmatics, and discourse analysis among others.

Keywords: Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis, Stylistics, Collaborative Learning, speech act theory, Technology enhanced learning, applied linguistic theories, cooperative principle, drama analysis, group project, online acting performance

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1 On the Semantics and Pragmatics of 'Be Able To': Modality and Actualisation

Authors: Benoît Leclercq, Ilse Depraetere

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The goal of this presentation is to shed new light on the semantics and pragmatics of be able to. It presents the results of a corpus analysis based on data from the BNC (British National Corpus), and discusses these results in light of a specific stance on the semantics-pragmatics interface taking into account recent developments. Be able to is often discussed in relation to can and could, all of which can be used to express ability. Such an onomasiological approach often results in the identification of usage constraints for each expression. In the case of be able to, it is the formal properties of the modal expression (unlike can and could, be able to has non-finite forms) that are in the foreground, and the modal expression is described as the verb that conveys future ability. Be able to is also argued to expressed actualised ability in the past (I was able/could to open the door). This presentation aims to provide a more accurate pragmatic-semantic profile of be able to, based on extensive data analysis and one that is embedded in a very explicit view on the semantics-pragmatics interface. A random sample of 3000 examples (1000 for each modal verb) extracted from the BNC was analysed to account for the following issues. First, the challenge is to identify the exact semantic range of be able to. The results show that, contrary to general assumption, be able to does not only express ability but it shares most of the root meanings usually associated with the possibility modals can and could. The data reveal that what is called opportunity is, in fact, the most frequent meaning of be able to. Second, attention will be given to the notion of actualisation. It is commonly argued that be able to is the preferred form when the residue actualises: (1) The only reason he was able to do that was because of the restriction (BNC, spoken) (2) It is only through my imaginative shuffling of the aces that we are able to stay ahead of the pack. (BNC, written) Although this notion has been studied in detail within formal semantic approaches, empirical data is crucially lacking and it is unclear whether actualisation constitutes a conventional (and distinguishing) property of be able to. The empirical analysis provides solid evidence that actualisation is indeed a conventional feature of the modal. Furthermore, the dataset reveals that be able to expresses actualised 'opportunities' and not actualised 'abilities'. In the final part of this paper, attention will be given to the theoretical implications of the empirical findings, and in particular to the following paradox: how can the same expression encode both modal meaning (non-factual) and actualisation (factual)? It will be argued that this largely depends on one's conception of the semantics-pragmatics interface, and that this need not be an issue when actualisation (unlike modality) is analysed as a generalised conversational implicature and thus is considered part of the conventional pragmatic layer of be able to.

Keywords: Pragmatics, Semantics, modality, Actualisation

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