Chapter

Grammar and function of we

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... The special or non-prototypical use of we usually means that the speakers of the sentences are not the individuals performing the action expressed (Helmbrecht 2002). The non-prototypical use of we is perceived as clearly expressing a more emotional or social connection between the speaker and the group than the prototypical usages (Helmbrecht 2002). ...
... The special or non-prototypical use of we usually means that the speakers of the sentences are not the individuals performing the action expressed (Helmbrecht 2002). The non-prototypical use of we is perceived as clearly expressing a more emotional or social connection between the speaker and the group than the prototypical usages (Helmbrecht 2002). For instance, when the speaker, a visitor of a soccer game, utters "we won the game yesterday", s/he conveys her/his strong commitment and closeness to the soccer team. ...
... Similar to Helmbrecht's (2002) observation of the function of the pronoun we in English to form and reinforce social groups and social identities, the marked and non-prototypical use of wǒmen (we) in the Chinese context signals construction of idealized parent identity. Parents' special use of the pronoun represents "negotiation of relations and identities in interaction" (Locher 2008: 533). ...
Article
Full-text available
Using the first-person plural pronoun wǒmen (we) to refer to a child (=he/she) is repeatedly observed in Chinese parents’ interaction. To understand its interpersonal meanings, this study investigates this non-prototypical pronoun use in Chinese parents’ community of practice. The analysis shows that the non-prototypical use of this pronoun not only displays agency and connection between parents and children but also reveals the seemingly close but detached relationship among parents. This non-prototypical pronoun use unveils the complex and dynamic nature of relational work. We argue for the significance of community of practice in relational work studies, as it can proffer social and cultural contexts to pronoun use and a situated understanding of interactants’ interpersonal relationships. The present study contributes to the documentation of the non-prototypical use of wǒmen in Chinese contexts and the comprehension of its interpersonal meanings.
... This research analyzes Facebook posts made by the US primary candidate Donald Trump between February 1, 2016 and July 28,2016. We ask what, in a 'media hybrid system' [2], causes some posts made by a political campaign to gain higher rates of 'likes' (a proxy for 'clicktivist' engagement). ...
... A candidate's use of pronouns can denote the speaker's attitude, social status, gender and intent [27]. The use of the first-person plural pronoun 'we' has also been found to create a sense of group identity, while positioning the speaker as part of a distinct set of people apart from that of another [28]. The manipulation of personal pronouns is a subtler approach to persuasion, having a more subliminal effect on target audiences [29]. ...
... The flexible use of pronouns enables politicians to position themselves differently depending on the situation. For example, a study of State of the Union speeches by George W Bush and Barack Obama revealed that the use of "I" positioned the speaker as an individual, "you" could be intended generically or to speak to the audience, "we" invoked collectiveness or shared responsibility, and "they" distanced the speaker from another group of people [28]. Building on previous research in this area, this study considers the use of positive and negative emotions, the past and future grammatical tenses, as well as the use of personal pronouns, to determine whether any of these variables influence engagement rates. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This study aims to identify the factors that might cause a Facebook post to be 'liked' by Facebook users. We analyze all the Facebook posts made by Donald Trump's campaign during the U.S. 2016 primary election. Several possible variables were considered, such as the types of Facebook posts, the use of pronouns and emotions, the inclusion of slogans and hashtags, references made to opponents, as well as candidate mentions on national television. The results of the Ordinary Least Squared (OLS) regression show that the use of highly charged (positive and negative) emotions and personalized posts (first-person singular pronouns) increase likes on the candidate's Facebook page. Visual posts (videos and photos) and the use of past tenses do not have a significant effect on post likes. Television mentions decrease the number of likes. The study offers empirical findings contributing to the growing literature on digitally networked participation [33] and support the development of the emerging notion of the new 'hybrid media' system [7] for political communication. It also raises questions as to the relevance of platforms such as Facebook to the democratic process since Facebook users are not necessarily engaging with the content in an organic, democratic way; but instead might be guided to specific content by the Facebook timeline algorithm.
... They maintain that we is used not only referring exclusively to the speaker, but also referring to a group that excludes the speaker. Helmbrecht (2002) views we as 'the most complex category of all person categories' (p. 33) and discusses its functions for interlocutors' identification with and membership to social groups. ...
... Sum of token numbers for we, our, ours, us complex and ambiguous pronoun (Helmbrecht, 2002), we affords the authors a linguistic flexibility to fluidly shuttle between 'reflexive' and 'interactive' positioning (Davies & Harré, 1999) and to concomitantly (re)draw the boundaries of 'self' and 'other' in their narratives. Taking on different we-positions, the authors negotiate and define who is 'in' and who is 'out' of the imagined construction of community or culture, because 'pronouns can never be extracted from the political process of naming [and imagining] a self, selves, and others' (Pennycook, 1994, p. 175). ...
Article
Full-text available
This study analyzes four American multicultural teacher education textbooks for instances of inclusive and exclusive representations through the use of first person plural pronouns (i.e., we, us, our, ours). Positioning Theory is used as a theoretical framework to examine the textbook authors' uses of first person plural pronouns and to understand how these pronouns perform reflexive and interactive positioning and fluidly (re)negotiate and (re)delineate the borders between 'self' and 'other.' The findings suggest that first person plural pronouns are used extensively in the focal textbooks to refer to such groups as authors, Americans, humans, teachers, and teacher educators. Expressing differing levels of ambiguity in interpretation, these pronouns play significant roles in the discursive representations of inclusivity and exclusivity across topics of multicultural education. This study implicates that language teachers should use criticality and reflexivity when approaching exclusionary discourses and representations that neglect the particularities of individuals from different cultures. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1362168817718576
... The first-person plural "we" represents a fundamental tool to construct politicians' identities and group membership (Helmbrecht, 2002). A key distinction can be drawn between the "inclusive we", which embraces the speaker and the hearer, and the "exclusive we", which leaves out the listener (Mühlhäusler & Harré, 1990). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
The focus of this research is in the area of Critical Discourse Analysis applied to political discourse in the United States. The study analyses the language used by former president Donald Trump and current president Joe Biden in their respective inaugural addresses, four years apart. Such a study is important in order to uncover the two leaders’ discursive strategies in similar settings and identify how these reveal elements of their ideologies, providing insights into America’s growing polarisation in the last decade. This dissertation applies Van Dijk’s (1998) Critical Discourse Analysis approach to Trump’s and Biden’s use of pronouns, transitivity, modality, presuppositions and implications, and metaphors. The findings from this study provide evidence that Trump portrays himself as a decisive leader mostly addressing his supporters, urging unquestioning patriotism to restore America’s glory after the “carnage” caused by two explicitly identified villains. The findings also demonstrate that Biden’s appeal to unity addresses all Americans while conveying empathy, yet presupposing that his opponents potentially represent a fatal threat for a country facing historic challenges. The main conclusions drawn from this study are that, despite the intertextuality with past inaugural addresses, common ground between the two presidents is found only in religious references and the acknowledgement of the country’s predicament. Trump’s and Biden’s vastly different assessments of the precarious reality and their proposed solutions are not only emblematic of America’s polarisation, but they also potentially contribute to the growing ideological divide, with possible consequences for the political future of the United States.
... when I say this, I'm thinking about them all in the same way 13 We do not claim that this exhausts the range of uses or meanings of English we; for example, in caretaker speech, to express an emotional or social connection with a group without including oneself, e.g. We won! about one's favourite team, and the authorial we, which can be used even with a single author (Helmbrecht, 2002). Presumably these are distinct meanings that require distinct, albeit related, explications. ...
Article
This paper explores “we-words” in the languages of the world, using the NSM method of semantic analysis. A simply phrased, cross-translatable explication for English ‘we’ [1pl] is proposed, suitable also for other languages with a single we-word. At the same time, it is argued that English ‘we’ co-lexicalises a second distinct meaning “we two” [1du], and that the same goes for other languages with a single we-word. The two explications are identical, except for being based on ALL and TWO, respectively. Both explications involve components of “I-inclusion” (roughly, ‘I am one of them’) and “subjective identification” (roughly, ‘I'm thinking about them all in the same way’). It is argued, furthermore, that both meanings (“we-all” and “we-two”) are likely to be found in all languages. To establish this, one has to take account of languages which manifest the “inclusive/exclusive” distinction. For such languages, evidence suggests that one of the two we-words contains a semantic component of “you-inclusion”, while the other is semantically unmarked. Languages whose “we words” encode kinship relations are also briefly considered. The analysis has implications for the typology of pronoun systems, for theorising about human social cognition, and for the lexical semantics of key social concepts.
... Actually, the exclusion of the speaker can be obtained with different means. The interpretation of the pronoun can be shifted towards the addressee, thus generating a hearer dominant form (De Cock 2011, which was already described by Jespersen (1933:148) as paternal-we, and more recently as condescending we (Quirk et al. 1985), also called nursery-we or pseudo-inclusive (Helmbrecht 2002(Helmbrecht , 2015. Furthermore, the speaker may use the first person plural to express a close relationship with a third party (we = they), or create an in-group which actually s/he does not belong to (we = they/you-group). ...
Article
The first person plural pronoun cannot be considered as an expression of pluralization of the first. Its semantic boundaries are defined in context, and this inherent vagueness an be pragmatically exploited for communicative purposes. Beyond the frequently investigated opposition between (addressee-) inclusive vs exclusive forms, this paper explores non-prototypical uses of the first person plural pronoun, focusing on the conflicts that arise when it is used in contexts that semantically exclude the speaker. Speaker-exclusive forms can occur in different situations, ranging from interpersonal exchanges to public discourse. The paper investigates their different semantic implications, highlighting their common traits as well as their crucial peculiarities. Both the review of the literature and the analysis of actual examples bring forth the different values and functions of various speaker-exclusive occurrences of the first person plural. A more systematic categorization of the forms can be obtained adopting a metaphorical interpretation, which on the one hand emphasises their common denominator (i.e. speaker-exclusiveness) and, on the other, sheds light on their varying communicative potential.
... 2.2. The Korean pronoun, wuli (we/our) With its wide referential range and flexibility, the pronoun we possesses an "inherent fluidity" (Pavlidou, 2014, p. 7), making it one of the most complex person pronouns (Helmbrecht, 2002;Mühlhäusler & Harré, 1990). The reference range for we indexes a group, including the speaker, and accommodates nine different types of reference: a speaker and other speakers, a speaker and an addressee, a speaker and a third party, and so on. ...
Article
tThis study examines stances evoked by a Korean teacher’s use of the pronoun, wuli (we/our), in a heritagelanguage classroom. Close analysis of recorded classroom interaction reveals that the frequent use of“wuli chingwutul” (our friends), “wuli plus first name”, and wuli for “you” evokes the stance of solidarity between the teacher and students. By mitigating face-threatening acts of directives and imperatives,the teacher’s stance-taking works to encourage students’ active engagement. The normalized use of wuli in the teacher’s discourse marks its absence for a shift in her stances from solidarity to authority and distance. These contrasting stances serve to socialize students into both pedagogically appropriate classroom behaviors and culturally appropriate linguistic practices. The results highlight ways in which speaker stances make up a significant aspect of language learning and socialization, calling for further studies on how bilingual children interpret and take up various stances in dynamic contexts.
... Although not focused on narrative, there is an extensive literature on the use of first-person plural pronouns and related forms and their flexible capacity to signal speakers' alignments with different, flexible and sometimes ambiguous collectivities (Muhlhauser & Harre, 1990;Helmbrecht, 2002;Pavlidou, 2014). and more specifically, participants' sense of reading the same texts simultaneously function to produce a narrating national "we". ...
... Although not focused on narrative, there is an extensive literature on the use of first-person plural pronouns and related forms and their flexible capacity to signal speakers' alignments with different, flexible and sometimes ambiguous collectivities (Muhlhauser & Harre, 1990;Helmbrecht, 2002;Pavlidou, 2014). and more specifically, participants' sense of reading the same texts simultaneously function to produce a narrating national "we". ...
Article
This article combines the study of online narratives as social practices and the linguistic anthropological study of imagined communities, to examine a set of non-canonical narrative practices in a Facebook group for the Portuguese diaspora in France. Instead of reports of individual members’ past experiences, these narratives function as invitations to other group members to co-tell typical, shared experiences. Specifically, we investigate how group members share vacation trips to Portugal with each other in ways that produce a sense of collective and simultaneous experience. They accomplish this through deictically-based narrative strategies that shift the social, spatial, and temporal perspectives of narrating and narrated frames in ways that link the following: individual I’s with collective we’s, one-time events with timeless event types, and co-presence online with co-presence on vacation. Through these strategies, participants connect Facebook narrations of vacations to the larger social project of diasporic longing for and return to Portugal.
... Further, analysis of " we " is useful in uncovering the inclusivity and exclusivity of individuals in discourse since, even without the use of " they, " " we " is one pronoun whose referent is often difficult to determine on the surface, and one that could be subtly used to exercise in-groupness and out-groupness. Helmbrecht (2002) indicates that the prototypical use of " we " is intended to create and reinforce group membership and social identity (p. 42). ...
Article
This thesis examines the ways in which rhetors in presidential discourse simultaneously associate with and dissociate from their audiences in an attempt to consolidate power while subtly masking their actions. Drawing on comparative rhetoric and Andrus’ (2013) Rhetorical Discourse Analysis (RDA) that combines rhetoric and (critical) discourse analysis, I analyze the expressive values of selected lexical items, and the inclusive and exclusive uses of “we” in selected State of the Nation/Union Addresses in Ghana and the United States. I argue that presidents’ unique position during these speeches as both heads of nations and heads of their political parties presents a challenge in their twin roles as assessors of national performance and promoters of policies, with the result that they associate with different audiences for purposes of political gain, based on whether the stance is epideictic (celebrating unity) or deliberative (setting a policy agenda). Further, a focus on the Ghanaian text uncovers the complexities inherent in such adopted Western rhetorical genres, and yet adapted Ghanaian discursive practices. I draw on these complexities to call for more attention to traditional socio-cultural norms and expectations that affect borrowed rhetorical practices in particularly postcolonial African contexts, as a way of re-envisioning nuances of power relations and rhetorical strategies in these milieux. This, I argue, could be a significant contribution to scholarship in both comparative rhetoric and Critical Discourse Analysis in non-Western contexts. The study also demonstrates how an interdisciplinary approach 8 such as RDA could unravel aspects of such speeches—persuasion and power differentials aimed at agenda setting—that a single approach might otherwise probably not reveal.
... e.g. Benveniste 1971, Mühlhäusler & Harré 1990, Sacks 1995, Wales 1996, Helmbrecht 2002, Cysouw 2003, Siewierska 2004) have pointed to the complexities of 'we', some of which I have alluded to in the introduction. For one, the very nature of this 'plural' has been called into question, since "the oneness and the subjectivity inherent in 'I' contradict the possibility of a pluralization" (Benveniste 1971: 202). ...
... e.g. Assouline 2010;Bazzanella 2009;Borthen 2010;Brewer and Gardner 1996;Bull and Fetzer 2006;De Fina 1995;Du Bois 2012;Fortanet 2004;Helmbrecht 2002;Kuo 1999;Lerner and Kitzinger 2007;Mao 1996;Margutti 2007;Pavlidou 2008;Pyykkö 2002;Skarzynska 2002;Stewart 2001;Temmerman 2008;Vergaro 2011). However, 'we' in zero-subject languages has hardly received any attention, even in studies explicitly addressing the issue of the so-called overt or redundant or freestanding subject pronouns (cf. ...
Article
This study examined how graduate students’ sense of belonging reflected their cognitive and affective experiences and their discursive engagement in three classroom discussion environments: face-to-face, and synchronous and asynchronous computer-mediated discussions. Self-report surveys at mid-semester identified higher and lower belongingness students. Mid-semester and end-of-semester ratings allowed exploration of cognitive/affective factors. Online discussion transcripts were analyzed to determine how higher-belonging and lower-belonging students used the pronoun We, with codings ranging from close (immediate) to more distant connections (far generic). Findings were that higher-belonging students reported higher levels of enjoyment, usefulness, and involvement. Lower-belonging students expressed sensitivities to peer judgment. As for their discourse, higher-belonging students posted more We instances than lower-belonging students in both online discussion formats. In synchronous discussions, higher-belonging students used more immediate We pronouns, whereas lower-belonging students used more far generic We. Understanding students’ experiences may aid educators in designing classroom discussion that supports learning and social-emotional well-being.
Article
Full-text available
Ecological identity, acting as the baton to guide the public’s behavior in nature, is closely correlated with environmental crises that threaten human survival. Previous studies of ecological identity are mostly conducted in the domain of sociopsychology with an emphasis on human’s attitude and behavior. Less attention, however, has been paid to the discursive construction of one’s ecological identity. The current study aims to build a framework to explore the mechanism of discursive strategies in constructing one’s ecological identity. To this end, this article classifies different ecological identities according to their impact on nature and the ecosophy of holism. It then puts forward a framework based on systemic functional linguistics to explore how lexicogrammatical resources can be employed strategically in the construction of ecological identity. The framework is significant for ecolinguistic investigations of identity and the cultivation of human’s critical language awareness related to the protection of ecosystems.
Article
In Milgram's obedience experiment, one of the many adjustments made by the experimenter to his “prods” is the regular use of “we” instead of the “you” required by the protocol. For example, he might say “we must continue” instead of “you must continue.” This text aims to describe the appearance for this use of “we” and suggests ways to understand what the “we” means for the experimenter who uses it, for the subject to whom it is addressed. Although Milgram describes a dualism (I–you), with an authority dominating a subject reduced to the agentic state, the “we” is a sign of similarity between those involved in the interaction and indicates cooperation rather than domination.
Article
International legal scholars tend to think of their work as the interpretation of rules: the application of a law 'out there' to concrete situations. This book takes a different approach to that scholarship: it views doctrine as a socio-linguistic practice. In other words, this book views legal scholars not as law-appliers, but as constructing knowledge within a particular academic discipline. By means of three close-ups of the discourse on cyberwar and international law, this book shows how international legal knowledge is constructed in ways usually overlooked: by means of footnotes, for example, or conference presentations. In so doing, this book aims to present a new way of seeing international legal scholarship: one that pays attention to the mundane parts of international legal texts and provides a different understanding of how international law as we know it comes about.
Article
This chapter inquires into the way the most prominent figure in the cyberwar discourse, Michael Schmitt, constructs his authority in his presentations. It concludes that these presentations entail a kind of map-drawing: the first part of the chapter shows how Schmitt relates to ‘time’ by positioning himself as well as the Tallinn Manual within the past, present and future of international legal thinking. The second part of the chapter shows how he constructs a spatial map of the field within which he functions and discursively relates to several ‘others’: nonlawyers; other(s) (lawyers) who, in his view, misinterpret international law as well as those he refers to as “pure academics”; third, the group of experts involved in the composition of the Manual; and finally, himself in the third person. Following the construal of all these links, what is left at the heart of the discursive map is Schmitt himself, holding the key to legal knowledge as well as functioning as gatekeeper for those he considers suitable to partake in the cyberwar debate.
Chapter
The boundaries between discriminatory hate speech and offensive (yet legitimate) discourse in political language are vague. In this chapter, we investigate discursive patterns in the “grey zone” between legal offence and freedom of speech. From a corpus of Twitter and Facebook messages dispersed by politicians before and during the 2019 election campaign in Flanders, we collected 195 posts that we consider to belong to this in-between area. We identified four recurring patterns in this sample (mainly based on “otherization” and discarding different opinions) and we operationalized them in terms of linguistic-pragmatic strategies. We found that some politicians of the extreme right specialized in producing utterances in the “grey zone”, thereby eliciting straightforward hate speech in the comments of their followers.
Article
This empirically oriented article focuses on uses of the pronoun “wir” (‘we’) in medical interaction – more precisely, in oncological consultations. After a brief presentation of major research on the 1st person plural pronoun in German, I will – based on methods of Interactional Linguistics – analyze interactional uses of this deictic pronoun in institutional doctor-patient conversations. This article aims at contributing to research of how grammar is used in response to local interactional needs within social interaction (Auer/Pfänder 2011). As the data show, participants in these institutional settings make use of various types of “wir” – beyond the prototypical forms of usage (a) “self and person addressed”; (b) “self and person or persons spoken of” and (c) “self, person or persons addressed, and person or persons spoken of” (Boas 1911: 39). These “alternative”, non-prototypical uses of “wir”, which partly override the “residual semanticity” (Silverstein 1976: 47), are found to be related to the way in which they are embedded within the particular “social field” (Hanks 2005: 18). Thus, the indexical anchoring of “wir” proves to be rather flexible and responsive to interactional contingencies.
Article
Boundary spanners live a precarious social life. They need to stand out to receive ideas from different groups and fit into some groups enough to influence their peers. We investigated how boundary spanners make linguistic choices to manage the tension of distinctiveness and belonging. We identified boundary spanners based on their betweenness centrality in a large review network (23,851 users and 118,545 reviews). We found that, compared to non-boundary spanners, boundary spanners used less bonding language to set themselves apart, but used more utility language to enhance social value. Boundary spanners’ use of bonding language varied with their popularity in social networks. More (vs. less) popular boundary spanners showed a stronger tendency to avoid we-words but not positive emotional words.
Article
Viewing pronouns as a semiotic resource that is central to self/other positioning, this study explores constitutive and performative functions of self-reference pronouns in the institutional context of the penalty phase of capital trials. Based on a corpus of 12 closing arguments, the findings indicate that self-reference pronouns are not simply indexical tools of reference in this monologic discursive event but also serve to activate and foreground certain identities while backgrounding others. In effect, lawyers can orchestrate a multiplicity of selves, ground their participation as members of different socio-cultural communities other than that defined by the current setting, and shift their speaking roles and perspectives in relation to the audience and the issue being discussed on a moment-by-moment basis. Such manipulation of group membership constitutes power struggles between opposing lawyers in the efforts to display (dis)alignment with aggravating and mitigating factors, alienate or create empathy for the person on trial, and manage self-impression and relationship with the jury, thereby potentially mediating capital jurors’ perceptions of state killing.
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the American upper-class collective identity in terms of clannishness and capitalism in Edith Wharton’s novel The House of Mirth (1905). It also demonstrates that the changes this class known as the vieux riches undergoes trigger its annihilation. Therefore, the survival of such class is probated by maintaining the tenets of capital and lineage; otherwise it will be consumed by the less prestigious and newly emerging class recognized as the nouveaux riches. In the novel, both classes are illustrated as contrasting forces separated by imaginary boundaries that are by no means static but rather dynamic. The changes in question are yet traceable in the salient modification of particular pronouns. That is, the first-person plural (we) embodied by Lily Bart and her set, and the third- person (he, they) exemplified by Simon Rosedale and his ilk, lose their distinctness towards the end of the novel. All in all, the class boundaries become nebulous as soon as the foreign heterogeneous lineages assimilate into the blood-based American genteel class. The assimilation is made possible on account of the capitalist competitive system symbolized by Rosedale. This system is illustrated as one that conduces to the obliteration of the upper-class collective identity allegorized by Lily’s fall. To this end, the validity of Thorstein Veblen’s theory regarding class “predatory test,” premised on Darwinian and Spencerian principles of evolution, will be applied to Wharton’s novel to enhance the proposed arguments and because Wharton’s thematic tropes align with Veblen’s philosophy.
Article
This study revisits variable subject pronoun expression in Spanish, bringing to bear insights from cross-linguistic patterns of person-number systems. Based on 2259 tokens from two corpora of Mexican Spanish representing distinct social classes, the study focuses solely on first person plural (1pl) subject pronouns, revealing unique aspects of variable nosotros expression. Evidence is offered in favor of a more nuanced measure of switch reference for non-singular grammatical persons through an analysis of the local effects of partial co-referentiality. This measure reconciles the large body of work on switch reference with Cameron’s (1995) measures of reference chains. Additionally, topic persistence — heretofore neglected in prior studies — conditions the variation, with subsequent mentions in the thematic paragraph favoring expressed pronouns. An investigation of clusivity demonstrates that Spanish 1pl subject pronoun expression is sensitive to a distinction grammaticalized in other languages, though subject pronoun rates across clusivities differ from previous results from Peninsular Spanish (Posio 2012). Finally, while subject pronoun expression is generally not sensitive to social factors, distributions of 1pl subjects according to clusivity differ between corpora. Results reveal the style and topic-conditioned differences in contextual distributions that underlie apparent social class differences in subject expression constraints.
Chapter
Full-text available
Facebook “likes” are often used as a proxy of users’ attention and an affirmation of what is posted on Facebook (Gerodimos & Justinussen, 2015). To determine what factors predict “likes,” the authors analyzed Facebook posts made by the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump, the top three candidates from the 2016 US primary election. Several possible factors were considered, such as the types of posts, the use of pronouns and emotions, the inclusion of slogans and hashtags, references made to opponents, as well as candidate’s mentions on national television. The results of an ordinary least-squared regression analysis showed that the use of highly charged (positive or negative) emotions and personalized posts (first-person singular pronouns) increased “likes” across all three candidates’ Facebook pages, whereas visual posts (posts containing either videos or photos) and the use of past tenses were liked more often by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ followers than by Trump’s followers. Television mentions boosted likes on Clinton and Sanders’ posts but had a negative effect on Trump’s. The study contributes to the growing literature on digitally networked participation (Theocharis, 2015) and supports the emerging notion of the new “hybrid media” system (Chadwick, 2013) for political communication. The study also raises questions as to the relevance of platforms such as Facebook to deliberative democratic processes since Facebook users are not necessarily engaging with the content in an organic way, but instead might be guided to specific content by the Facebook timeline algorithm and targeted ads.
Article
Full-text available
Politicians frequently face adversarial questions during election time. They often provide evasive replies to veer away from the controversial issues, but such equivocation also distances them from the audience. To deal with this problem, politicians often use the inclusive ‘we’ to identify themselves with the interest of the general public when they equivocate, or they sometimes use the exclusive ‘we’ to shift the responsibility of controversial policies to their political parties. The choice of inclusive versus exclusive ‘we’ in equivocation is not random but is governed by contextual factors, for example, the speech topic, the politician’s affiliation (if any) and the political system within a given culture. In Hong Kong, the Chief Executive Election candidates often do not belong to any political party. In this article, we examine how this unique contextual factor affects the choice of inclusive and exclusive ‘we’ in the evasive replies of politicians in the 2012 Hong Kong Chief Executive Election debates.
Chapter
Language used for, about and by female politicians, is qualitatively and quantitatively investigated to demonstrate how language operates to signal gender, gendering and gendered prototyping. The media have found ways to expose a ‘war among female politicians’, manipulating the choices of the language they use to refer to themselves. Marked forms are used more than unmarked in the case of sindaca (feminine) and sindaco (unmarked masculine) when referring to three female mayors in Italian newspapers. Sexual terms used to insult female politicians about their alleged promiscuous private lives seems to be purposefully used to demonstrate their unsuitability to operate in the institutional public spheres. On the contrary, female MPs legitimize their position in the parliament through language, also building a bond with women outside of the Chamber.
Article
This article reviews research that examines the use of language in small interacting groups and teams. We propose a model of group inputs (e.g., status), processes and emergent states (e.g., cohesion, influence, and innovation), and outputs (e.g., group effectiveness and member well-being) to help structure our review. The model is integrated with how language is used by groups to both reflect group inputs but also to examine how language interacts with inputs to affect group processes and create emergent states in groups, and then ultimately helps add value to the group with outputs (e.g., performance). Using cross-disciplinary research, our review finds that language is integral to how groups coordinate, interrelate, and adapt. For example, language convergence is related to increased group cohesion and group performance. Our model provides the theoretical scaffolding to consider language use in interacting small groups and suggests areas for future research.
Chapter
In this chapter, the protest songs We Shall Overcome and 99 Luftballons/ 99 Red Balloons are examined within the deep stories of their respective contexts, the segregated Southern United States and the Cold War, particularly in West Germany. Each song is then analyzed as a performative within the framework of the renovated felicity conditions, introduced in Chapter 2 based on Austin’s Speech Act Theory, for the speech act of protest. Each analysis focuses on the presuppositional conditions regarding convention, circumstance, words, persons, effects, and positionings, followed by the aspirational conditions with a focus on thoughts, intention, risk, commitment, and subsequent actions. These analyses include discussions of identity in terms of convocativity as well as how these speech acts attain pragmatic legitimacy through the fulfillment of the felicity conditions.
Article
Full-text available
This article aims to fill a gap in the existing research by analysing the construction of leadership and group identity in a corpus of 13 party conference speeches by the party leaders of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the British Labour Party between 1997 and 2003. The comparative approach chosen will demonstrate the context sensitivity and strategic use of the pronominal self-references. The article will demonstrate how changes of pronominal self-reference in party conference speeches can be understood as strategic changes of footing to foreground either the voice of the party leader or the voice of the party. It will conclude with the results of an analysis of the combination of pronominal self-references and verb forms construing competence and responsiveness, as suggested by Fetzer and Bull, and demonstrates that these verb forms are used differently in combination with the various forms of self-reference, a fact neglected in their analysis.
Article
Full-text available
This article is concerned with the construction of interpersonal relations in a relatively neglected genre of political discourse – opening addresses delivered by Directors-General of UNESCO at international conferences and meetings – arguing that the genre-specific distribution of interpersonal cues in addresses enhances the perception of coherence. While exploring the communicative purpose and the rhetorical structure of addresses, the analysis relates the rhetorical moves of the genre to communicative functions of language conveying interper-sonal meanings and considers their contribution to the perception of discourse coherence. The findings of the analysis show that owing to the ritualistic character of addresses, interpersonal meanings contributing to the perception of coherence convey a continuous appeal to the audience related to claiming common ground and shared ideology, and a consistent subjective evaluation of social actors, their actions and relations by the speaker.
Article
This article scrutinises the usage of the words “we”, “us” and “our” by BBC radio journalists when reporting and discussing news and current affairs. By analysing reports and discussions on the “flagship” Radio 4 Today, a daily news programme whose centrality to political and public debate is widely recognised, the article raises substantive questions about clarity, accuracy and impartiality in senior broadcast journalists’ choice of language. In exploring the assumptions which may underlie the invocation, via such language choices, of an implied community, and against the backdrop of the BBC's commitment to impartiality in its Editorial Guidelines, the article identifies numerous recent examples where the choice of words and identifiers can be seen as undermining the BBC's impartiality and which show several of its senior journalists adopting the first-person plural “we” when reporting on matters of public policy. The findings therefore indicate a general need to codify norms which are seen to integrate the need for accuracy as well as impartiality, and for these norms to take into account issues which might at first glance seem to be inconsequential, micro-level features of the journalists’ language. The evidence suggests that more fine-grained guidelines on permissible circumstances for BBC journalists’ usage of “we” and “our” need revising and disseminating in the light of these findings.
Article
Deborah Schiffrin looks at two important tasks of language--presenting 'who' we are talking about (the referent) and 'what happened' to them (their actions and attributes) in a narrative--and explores how this presentation alters in relation to emergent forms and meanings. Drawing on examples from both face-to-face talk and public discourse, she analyzes a variety of repairs, reformulations of referents, and retellings of narratives, ranging from word-level repairs within a single turn-at-talk, to life story narratives told years apart.
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the (co-)construction of identities in ritual interaction, by focusing on the choice of interactional styles. 'Interactional style' describes a cluster of similar indexical actions within the interaction "frame" (Goffman, 1974) of a ritual. Ritual is a recurrent interaction type, which puts constraints on the individual's "freedom" to construct their (and others') identities, in a somewhat similar way to institutional interactions, which have been broadly studied in the field. However, the constraints posed by ritual interactions are different from institutional, and so by examining identity (co-)construction via interactional style choices in ritual contexts, this paper fills an important knowledge gap. I approach interactional style choices through the notions of "role" and "accountability", and by placing ritual practices within Goffman's (1981) participation framework. I use examples of heckling at performing arts events as data. By focusing on interactional style, the paper contributes to the present Special Issue dedicated to interactional styles across cultures.
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter explores the Hebrew anaxnu (‘we’) in Israeli political radio phone-in programs. Using the ‘we,’ participants create or refer to seven social groups: the conversation ‘we’; the program ‘we’; the delimited social ‘we’; the opposing general ‘we’, the open general ‘we’; the humanity ‘we’; and the vocal ‘we’. The functions of ‘we’ differ by the participants: hosts used the conversation ‘we’ to manage interactions; whereas callers used the general ‘we’ to create a public sphere. Using an extended excerpt, we illustrate a variant of the “fluidity of ‘we’” and its significance to the participants' identity-displays. The first person plural therefore creates social groups in media interactions, both on the micro and macro societal levels.
Article
Full-text available
Grammatical persons and their variable referential scopes play an important role in the configuration of discourse and in the achievement of communicative goals. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the use of the Spanish first-person plural from the viewpoint of morphosyntactic choice and style construction. The study focuses on clauses with unexpressed subjects, which in the case of nosotros ‘we’ are by far the more frequent option. A written-press corpus is analyzed whose materials are distributed into five different textual genres, while participants are characterized through two psychosocial features: Socioprofessional identity and gender. The overall frequencies of first-person plural subjects, as well as the rates of audience-exclusive vs. -inclusive uses, are calculated according to each external factor. Subsequent qualitative analysis shows that the choice of the first-person plural situates discourse in an intermediate zone along the continuum from subjectivity to objectivity, helping to shape an intersubjective perspective, most clearly in its inclusive uses. It is also concluded that the qualitative, interactional facet of linguistic choice is by no means independent of statistical variation patterns: Both types of data contribute to the understanding of morphosyntactic choices as creative stylistic resources.
Article
Full-text available
This study explores the use of the first person plural pronoun “we/wij” by government and opposition party members in panel debates from the Flemish talk show De Zevende Dag. Both groups of politicians enter this arena with divergent communicative goals, which has clear implications (i) for the type of propositions in which subclasses of “we/wij”-pronouns are generally involved and (ii) for the politicians’ assessment of the status of these propositions. Patterns with regard to these three implications are analyzed by means of a systemic functional approach supported with quantitative data. It is claimed that government and opposition party discussants either employ distinct patterns in accordance with their different aims, or that they use similar ones, albeit with divergent discourse functions. The former scenario turns out to be true in the case of exclusive uses of “we/wij” and the latter in the case of inclusive meanings. In that way, the paper sheds light on subtle differences in how government and opposition party discussants argue and deal with the invisible presence of an overhearing broadcast audience.
Book
This book merges variationist sociolinguistics, discourse analysis and cognitive science into a new, comprehensive approach to variation in syntax. It is based on a view of grammatical constructions as creative stylistic choices that generate particular meanings in context. This can be so because linguistic variants – traditionally regarded as synonymous forms differing only in ‘extralinguistic’ significance – are based on cognition and reflect human perceptions of real-world events. The analysis of the variable expression and place-ment of Spanish pronoun subjects will show that not only the intrinsic referential values of pronouns, but also their formal arrangement within the clause, may affect the contextual interpretation of utterances and discourse. Besides, social and pragmatic factors will not be approached as predefined external variables constraining the occurrence of syntactic variants, but rather as dynamic features whose meaning is incorporated to that of the linguistic form. In other words, language and any other social semiotic systems will be seen as co-constitutive. The book aims to take an important step towards the configuration of a scientific theory of variation.
Article
This article focuses on the phenomenon of 1st person plural forms being used with hearer reference, e.g. a teacher saying to his/her students “We’re going to be quiet now” in Spanish (a pro-drop language) and English (a non-pro-drop language), paying attention to both contrasts and similarities between them. The physical persons involved in interaction (speaker and hearer) are distinguished from the discursive roles (addresser and addressee). While coinciding by default, in some cases the interpretation of the 1st person plural forms shifts towards the addressee, thus triggering a hearer-dominant reading. On the one hand, this shift is argued to be not merely a matter of contextual interpretation, but to be triggered by linguistic elements, such as vocatives, interrogative speech acts and tense. On the other hand, the politeness judgment of this strategy is questioned in the light of various (im)politeness theories and a plea is made for taking into account the broader linguistic and non-linguistic context of the utterance. While the hearer-dominant reading occurs both in English and in Spanish, there appear to be differences as to the impact of the subject pronoun and the position of the strategy within the address system as a whole.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.