Review of Perspective and Perspectivation in Discourse
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003 08:24:13 +0800
From: Chaoqun Xie
Subject: Perspective and Perspectivation in Discourse
Graumann, Carl F. and Werner Kallmeyer (2002) Perspective and
Perspectivation in Discourse. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Human
Cognitive Processing 9.
Chaoqun Xie, Fujian Normal University, China
Perspective, as an important issue of multidisciplinary or
transdisciplinary nature, has found favor with students of different
academic backgrounds, from philosophers to linguists, from
psychologists to sociologists and theorists of literature. Some of
current much-researched topics include the structure and functions of
perspectivity, perspectivation in discourse and interaction,
differences and divergences of perspectivity and perspectivity in
reconstructive genres. The present collection of papers divided into
four parts is coiled around these very topics. In what follows I will
first describe the major ideas of each chapter and then make some
comments and raise some questions.
In "Perspective and perspectivation in discourse: An introduction" (pp.
1-11), the two editors, Carl F. Graumann and Werner Kallmeyer begin
their presentation with the three notions of perspective, viewpoint and
aspects, touching upon various approaches to the study of perspectivity
in interaction, from social to psychological, from linguistic to
behavioral. This introduction ends with a brief introduction to the
following 18 chapters broken down into four parts corresponding to four
major areas of interest in present-day scholarship concerning
Part A, "Perspectivity: Structure and functions", contains five
contributions. In "Knowledge and perspective setting: What possible
consequences on conversation do we have to expect?" (pp. 15–23), Klaus
Foppa argues for viewing perspecitivty as the necessary result of a
subject's positioning. More importantly, the author differentiates
semantic knowledge and performative knowledge, presenting some
instances of functional equivalence and divergence of knowledge and
perspectivity in dialogues.
The topic of implictness of perspectivity is the focus of the following
two contributions. In "Explicit and implicit perspectivity" (pp. 25-
39), Carl Friedrich Graumann speaks from many years of empirical
research on the subject matter. Viewing perspectivity as a
multidisciplinary issue, Graumann examines mono- versus multi-
perspectivity, arguing that implicit perspectivity is primary and that
explicit perspectivity can only be realized under certain specific
circumstances. In this chapter, the author also deals with egological
versus intersubjective perspectivity, conditions and forms of
perspectives, and implicitness of perspective in biased talk and
In "Perspectives, implicitness and recontextualization" (pp. 41-57),
Per Linell echoes Graumann's view that perspective depends on implicit
instead of explicit features of the text. After presenting fifteen
properties of perspectives (dynamic, relational, discourse-based,
grounded in discourse, among other things), Linell dwells into the
centrality of implicitness and reperspectivations in intertextual
chains, concluding with the warning remark that "Nor everything should
be defined as a perspective" (p. 53).
The next two chapters focus on the linguistic aspects of perspective.
In "Quaestio and L-perspectivation" (pp. 59-88), Christiane von
Stutterheim and Wofgang Klein begin with lexical choice, structural
choice and contextual choice, noting their interdependence and the
principles of perspective-taking. Next, the authors distinguish four
levels of language production as follows: intake, uptake, forming a
discourse representation and constructing a linguistic form (cf. pp.
64-69). This chapter also explores potential principles constraining
the L-perspectivation on lexical, structural and contextual choices,
examining how they might operate in actual text production with
reference to the case of subordination.
The next chapter is devoted to "Grammaticalization of perspectivity"
(pp. 89-109) contributed by Gisela Zifonun focuses on prepositional
perspectivity, aiming to test the hypothesis that converses can be
regarded as cases of grammaticalization of perspectivity. After
touching upon four types of converses, the author elaborates on
problems and positions of prepositional identity and perspectivity,
arguing among other things that semantic concept of centrality should
be kept apart from the pragmatic concept of centrality.
Part B, "Perspectivation in discourse and interaction", containing five
chapters, more or less build on the theoretical paradigm of
conversational rhetoric. In "Verbal practices of perspective grounding"
(pp. 111-141), Werner Kallmeyer scrutinizes how participants display
their perspectivation in verbal interaction. Specifically, the author
addresses perspective grounding in personal experience, in social
categorization, and in principles of acting, with special reference to
German corpus data.
In "Perspectivity and professional role in verbal interaction" (pp.
143-165), Inken Keim, recurring to German data collected from a single
ethnographic interview and drawing upon the theoretical framework of a
rhetorical conversation analysis, attempts to account for how a
speaker's perspectivity in professional occasions can tell us about his
or her concept as regards his or her professional role.
In "'You can say you to yourself': Establishing perspectives with
personal pronouns" (pp. 167–180), Ursula Bredel draws attention to some
of the neglected uses of the German self-referential 'du' (meaning
'you' in English) as follows: the 'du' of the inner dialogue, the
intrapolyphonic 'du', the interpolyphonic 'du' and the iconic 'du'.
In "Strategic uses of self and other perspectives" (pp. 181-200),
Alissa Shethar focuses on eastern perspectives after German
unification, trying to see how other perspectives are made use of in
making critical complaints. This chapter also discusses two tactics of
perspectival splitting, viz. negative equations and inversions. Note
that the reference "Bourdieu 1994: 45-46" (p. 197) should be "Bourdieu
In "Irony, quotation, and other forms of staged intertextuality: Double
or contrastive perspectivation in conversation" (pp. 201-229), Helga
Kotthoff investigates irony as a case of contrastive double
perspectivation. In the section of "Quotation and polyphony", the
author tackles quotations introduced formally and quotations that are
not announced. Next much ink is devoted to an exploration of
conversational irony in context, where the author introduces the
notions of perspectivity and evaluation into the explanation of the
divergence integrated in irony. The discussion then moves on to a
distinction between mention-irony and pseudo-quotation, processing the
said and the meant and prototypes of staged intertextuality.
There are four chapters in Part C under the heading of "Perspectivity:
Differences and divergences". In "Social discrimination and aggression:
A matter of perspective-specific divergence?" (pp. 233-250), Sabine
Otten and Amélie Mummendey demonstrates that accounting for aggressive
interaction in terms of social discrimination is far from enough.
Viewing aggression as social interaction, the author places much
emphasis upon social discrimination and its perspective-specific
evaluation after presenting a detailed discussion of Mummendey's
perspective-specific analysis of aggressive behavior.
In "Perspective-related differences in interpretations of injustice in
close relationships" (pp. 251-262), Gerold Mikula reports on an
empirical study of perspective-related interpretative and evaluative
differences between actors and recipients when it comes to interpreting
negative behaviors and incidents in close personal relationships.
In "Perspectivity in dialogues involving people with cerebral palsy"
(pp. 263-285), Ivana Marková and Sarah Collins begin the reciprocity of
perspectives as common sense, focusing on the notion of typicality and
its disturbances and outlining dialogical interactions involving people
with cerebral palsy, "a disorder of movement and posture caused by
trauma to the brain at birth" (p. 266). After this, the presentation
moves on to report on a corpus-based study examining specific
difficulties with perspective setting and perspective taking
experienced by persons with impaired speech and by persons without
unimpaired speech respectively. According to the authors, the impaired
speaker exploits innovations and non-typical strategies while the
unimpaired speaker resorts to the strategy of typicality.
In "Perspective-dependent attributions in court: An investigation into
closing speeches with the Linguistic Category Model" (pp. 287-303),
Jeannette Schmid first introduces the Linguistic Category Model,
touching upon its attribution of dispositionality and of causality. The
rest of the paper is devoted to implicit attributions in the legal
context, arguing for the model's uniqueness in the investigation of
Finally, Part D, "Perspectivity in reconstructive genres", which like
Part C also contains four papers, shifts the focus to the nature of
narrative perspectivity. In "Point of view, narrative mode and the
constitution of narrative texts" (pp. 307-321), Peter Canisius
illustrates the grammatical features of texts as evidenced in two modes
of narrative as follows: the narrator-mode and the reflector-mode. Some
of the topics covered by the author include give-new-contract and
narrator-mode, point of view and reflector-mode, logophoricity and
perspective and, perspectival ambiguity.
In "Global and local aspects of perspectivity" (pp. 323-346), Uta M.
Quasthoff tackles two main questions, one, the correlations between
locality and globality and two, the process of verbal perspectivation.
By means of institutional data, the author attempts to reconstruct past
events and processes within the framework of perspectivity as a globe
phenomenon. The reference "Attardo 1995" (p. 226) should be "Attardo
In "Perspectivity in reported dialogues: The contextualization of
evaluative stances in reconstructing speech" (pp. 347-374), Susanne
Günthner, following Bauman and Briggs (1990), argues that the process
of reporting speech is basically one of de-contextualization and re-
contextualization, coupled with some kinds of modifications,
functionalizations and transformations that are determined by what kind
of goal the speaker has in mind and what requirements the new
conversational context might have. The author explores varieties of
strategies (code-switching, prosodic features, voice quality, the use
of non-lexical syllables) speakers make use of as contextualization
cues in their recount of past utterances.
Last but not least, in "The role of the narrative perspective in the
cognitive-cultural context" (pp. 375-387), János László and Tibor Pólya
report on the results of four experiments with the aim of ascertaining
whether perspectives (internal and external) have an effect on the
mental and cognitive processing of text segments. Although the authors
call for differentiating internal and external perspectives in
processing texts, they are not, as they themselves acknowledge, in a
position to provide supporting evidence to show that "internal and
external perspectives influence cognitive processing differently" (p.
In sum: the editors, who are among the pace-setters in the study of
perspectivity as a global concept and whose pervasive influences can
find expression in this present volume, should be credited with the
success of bringing together eighteen cutting-edge studies pertaining
to the subject matter of perspective. All these contributions are
oriented to a single goal: to deepen our understanding of the very
notion of perspective. And they made it. This is a remarkable
collection of papers devoted to the dynamics, multidisplinarity or even
transdisciplinarity of perspectivity in human interaction and is of
great value to many people.
Some of my reservations and questions are as follows. For the editors,
these two concepts, viz. "perspectivation" and "perspectivization" mean
the same and the only difference between them is that the former is
more commonly used than the latter that is only "occasionally" employed
(p. 4). However, a close look into some other publications concerned
(e. g., Taylor, 1989; Ungerer and Schmid, 1996; Nuyts, 2001) reveals
the opposite is more often than not the case, that is, the term
"perspectivization" is often rather than occasionally used (by
cognitive linguists in particular)! Dirven et al. (1983) might be among
the first to adopt the term "perspectivization".
Given the fact that many of the contributions of this volume recur to
German as their object of study, one may wonder if a cross-linguistic
comparison would help to shed more light upon the nature of
perspectivity. Is the use of perspective necessarily strategic as
argued by Shethar in this volume? Is the at once influential and
controversial relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson, 1995; cf. He and
Ran, 1998) able to add some explanatory force to the account of
perspective and perspectivation in communication? Is it possible for
one to have perspective-setting and perspective-taking at the same
time, or is there any automatic interaction between them and how is it
possible, if any? By the way, I wonder if it is really or always the
case, as argued by Foppa, that "Knowledge, at least in its strict,
narrow sense is not negotiable" (p. 17).
For me, perspective is at once a complex and lucrative topic: complex
in the sense that perspective is basically a matter of psychology and
cognition, the exploration of which is extremely laborious; lucrative
(metaphorically speaking here) in the sense that a better understanding
of the very notion of perspective would surely help to clarify some, if
not many, of our thoughts about some phenomena in human interaction.
For instance, it has long been assumed that the tense in the complement
clause largely depends on its relation to the head clause. Recently,
however, Sakita (2002) empirically demonstrates that this is rarely the
case in spoken English, where "tenses of reported verbs are naturally
determined by the reporter's PERSPECTIVE" (Sakita, 2002: 160; emphasis
added)! More recently, Hanna et al. (2003) show with experimental
evidence that perspective does "have immediate effects on reference
Bauman, Richard and Briggs, Charles L., 1990. Poetics and performances
as critical perspectives on language and social life. Annual Review of
Anthropology 19, 59-88.
Dirven, René, Goossens, Louis, Putseys, Yvan and Vorlat, Emma, 1983.
The Scene of Linguistic Action and its Perspectivization by SPEAK,
TALK, SAY and TELL. John Benjamins, Amsterdam.
Hanna, Joy E., Tanenhaus, Michael K. and Trueswell, John C., 2003. The
effects of common ground and perspective on domains of referential
interpretation. Journal of Memory and Language 49, 43-61.
He, Ziran and Ran, Yongping, 1998. A review of relevance theory---the
essentials of cognitive pragmatics. Modern Foreign Language 21, 92-107.
Nuyts, Jan, 2001. Epistemic, Modality, Language, and Conceptualization.
John Benjamins, Amsterdam.
Sakita, Tomoko I., 2002. Reporting Discourse, Tense, and Cognition.
Sperber, Dan and Wilson, Deirdre, 1995. Relevance: Communication and
Cognition (2nd edition). Blackwell, Oxford.
Taylor, John R., 1989. Linguistic Categorization: Prototypes in
Linguistic Theory. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Ungerer, Friedrich and Schmid, Hans-Joerg, 1996. An Introduction to
Cognitive Linguistics. Longman, London.
| ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Chaoqun Xie is a lecturer with the Foreign Languages Institute, Fujian Normal University, China. His main areas of research interests include interactional pragmatics, sociolinguistics, culture, communication and translation and has published extensively in these fields.