Most people modify their ways of speaking, writing, texting, and e-mailing, and so on, according to the people with whom they are communicating. This fascinating book asks why we 'accommodate' to others in this way, and explores the various social consequences arising from it.
AUTHOR: Christian Plantin TITLE: Les bonnes raisons des émotions SUBTITLE: Principes et méthode pour l'étude du discours émotionné SERIES TITLE: Sciences pour la communication - Volume 94 PUBLISHER: Peter Lang AG YEAR: 2011
Vasilica Le Floch, IDEA Research Group, IUT Charlemagne, Université Nancy 2, France.
This book offers a holistic, non-psychological approach to emotion, seen not as a Passive Response to a Stimulus, but as a meaningful activity, shaping discourse and speech situations. Following the notion of the argumentative construction of emotions, it defends the thesis that reason and emotion cannot be separated in ordinary argumentative discourse. The dichotomy ''reason vs. emotion'', a fundamental element of a preconceived notion dominating argumentation studies that is sometimes found in discourse studies, is now being questioned. According to the author, this opposition impairs the observation and analysis of written and spoken emotions, leading to studies on the ordinary argumentation in the stalemate of an ''un-emotive'', almost pathological language. Argumentative situations are profoundly emotional, as they bring into play values that express the interests and found the identity of speakers.
Chapter 1 (pages 5-15) deals with terminology and with different terms used to describe emotions. The author suggests a list of seven French nouns ''affect, emotion, éprouvé, humeur, passion, pathos, sentiment'' that cover the field of emotions. Each of these words bears the burden of the past and refers to a field or genre. For example, ''passion'' reflects on philosophy, ''pathos'' on rhetoric and ''humeur'' on medicine. In French linguistics, we talk about the ''grammar of feelings'' and the ''terms of emotion'' (Balibar-Mrabti, 1995). The author also deals with other lexical classifications (e.g. verbs, adjectives, adverbs) and notes that in French, these terms are not represented in all grammatical categories.
Chapter 2 (pages 17-26) deals with rhetoric, the concept of pathos, and the treatment of emotion in discourse. In Aristotle's rhetoric, pathos is formed by pairs of emotions. Rhetoric is a discourse technique aiming to trigger an action; making someone think, say, feel, and finally, take action. In order to talk about emotions within a discursive perspective, it is not nouns that we should use, but rather verbs, or predicates of action.
In Chapter 3 (pages 27-44), due to the opposition of the notions of ethos, pathos and logos, the author sees the person as an argumentative resource. The person becomes a stylistic category allowing linguistic techniques of emotional construction to be analysed, along with people inside discourse.
In Chapter 4 (pages 45-61), argumentative practice is defined as a go-between activity, as it attempts to demonstrate without upsetting. However, emotion in discourse is seen from two distinct angles: the emotional and the emotive. Emotion as the ''degradation'' of discourse can be intentionally exploited by the orator. This chapter concludes with the inseparability of the reason-emotion pair. This reasoning is based on Perelman's ''Traité de l'argumentation'' (1976, p. 47).
With regard to Chapter 5 (pages 63-97), it shows that the fallacy theory is the only argumentation theory that undertakes the study of emotions, aiming at eliminating them. The author takes up W. W. Fearnside's ''Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument'' (1959), for whom fallacy is a pseudo-argument. The author proposes a list of fallacious emotions, which is truly at the heart of the debate on emotions.
Chapter 6 (pages 99-111) offers a moral anthropology perspective of discourse. Two approaches are analysed: that proposed by ''Port-Royal Logic'' (1965), focusing on sophisms and false reasonings; and the one tackled by Mill in his ''A System of Logic'' (1866). Whether we adhere or not to moral philosophy or to logical philosophy, these two approaches signal that the fallacy theory is impossible without moral anthropology and the philosophy of spirit.
Chapter 7 (pages 113-133) studies emotions within the framework of a ''before, during and after'' emotional scenario that covers the emotional situation and its developments. The starting point is the idea that an emotion is the result of a stimulus, according to the Stimulus - Response model. The curves used to describe emotion allow us to understand its phasic aspects. We are reminded that the thymic component comes into play, defined as a basic psychic tone or ''a normal state of composure'', as described by Wierzbicka (1995). The study shows that every individual has unique emotional abilities and that these abilities are employed to read the emotions of others as well as to express personal emotions.
Chapter 8 (pages 135-163) deals with the manifestation of emotions in language. It presents the instruments and concepts taking part in the discursive construction of emotions. The linguistic approach to emotional discourse differentiates between emotional speech (i.e. expression of an experienced emotion) and emotive speech (i.e. expression of a controlled, shaped emotion). The ''source -- place -- emotion'' relation allows us to understand the semantic structure of emotions. To identify the terms of emotion, a linguist's work is based on dictionary data. The analysis of emotional speech can be undertaken on one of the following three levels: expression, pragmatics and interaction. Although linguists have inventories of instruments available for observing emotions (Kerbrat-Orecchioni, 2000), it is impossible to organise these instruments in such a way as to describe a linguistic system of emotions and to describe how speech works in order to express or signify an emotion. These instruments act through immediate identification or by index development.
Chapter 9 (pages 165-183) deals with the general principles that organise the production and construction of emotion within discourse. The rules of rhetoric production of emotions are presented in detail and summarised in a table (according to Lausberg, 1971). Ungerer's approach (1997) is also useful; he proposes an analysis of emotions released by linguistic triggers according to four principles of emotional inferencing (principles of emotional relevance, a principle of emotional evaluation, a principle of intensity of presentation and a principle of emotional content). In the final part of the chapter, the author proposes a twelve-axis system to organise emotive discourse, which has been developed from the data and instruments presented in previous chapters. These twelve axes are: consent, type of event, type of person, quantity/intensity, analogy, time, place, distance, causality/agentivity, consequences, control, and norms.
In the “Transition” (pages 185-196), the author summarises the major principles of the construction of emotional speech. The system of strategic resources, controlled by the participants in a communication act, allows us to see that in ordinary speech, emotions and linguistic reasons are built on the same principles.
The second part of this work, “Studies” (pages 197-294), presents a series of seven studies. The subject of the first study (pages 197-204) is a letter published in Télérama, in its letters to the editor. It concerns the reaction of a reader to France’s decision to deport Paolo Persichetti to Italy. Four distinct levels are found within the argumentative construction: the official discourse, the rebuttal of the official discourse, the concession, and the rebuttal of the concession. The various stages of the construction of feelings are also highlighted. There are three forms of expression of emotion- rage, shame, and bitterness- culminating in a unique emotional point or enthymeme.
The second study (pages 205-213) focuses on an article published on 13 February 1997 in Le Figaro. The author of the study shows the construction of emotion from the title (cause of the emotion + emotion). The emotion constructed in the article is fear; the dysphoric orientation of the text is based on negative terms and negations. The analysis of the article highlights the construction mechanisms of an emotion and offers a particularly interesting interpretative framework. The article also suggests a reassuring solution to the feeling of fear brought about. The final solution marks the end of the emotional journey.
The third study (pages 215-229) focuses on the address made by journalist Yann de Kerorguen on the subject of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The text dates back to 1992. It is demonstrated that the argument has a dialogic structure. The construction of feelings and their arguments are central to the study. As in the previous study, the author focuses on the topoi that construct emotion: what, who, how many, when, why, how, etc.
The fourth study (pages 231-239) deals with an oral interaction between eleven people, with a total duration of about 50 minutes. The study reproduces some passages from the transcript. The analysis of emotions brings answers to two main questions: i. Who experiences what?; ii. and Why? The triggers and the arguments are described in detail. The study offers a glimpse of an interesting line of study which is that of the relationship between emotion and the behaviour which demonstrates the emotion, particularly in terms of language (e.g. intonation, elisions, pauses, etc.).
In the fifth study (pages 241-252) the author focuses on a letter detailing several incidents which took place in a restaurant during a meal. The events are presented chronologically and the emotions are argumented. The graphical representation of the emotional journey is a particularly interesting tool of interpretation. It is shown that cultural framework, background, and assumptions contribute to the transmission of emotions.
The sixth study (pages 253-277) deals with an oral interaction between two people, concerning an incident in which one of these persons was a victim. As noted by the author of the work, the transcript of the dialogue between the two people does not capture the interactional events. The transcript captures the emotion itself, but cannot account for all of the intonations and gestures. The designation of the emotions remains the focal point of the study. The diagram which describes the emotional journey is a relevant tool. Just as in Study 5, the satisfaction-type feeling puts an end to the emotional journey.
The final study (pages 279-294) deals with a video clip of the electoral campaign for the 2006 Presidential Election in Mexico, integrating aural and visual dimensions. This study is particularly interesting because it proposes an interpretative and analytical framework for another type of data: the video clip. Four elements are taken into account: the text, the image-plan (close-up, foreground), the sound, and the lighting. The author demonstrates the way in which all these elements contribute to the construction of the emotion, which in this case is fear. However, it should be noted that this emotion is not explicitly named in the video clip.
We should start by noting the merit of proposing a formalised list of emotions and instruments available to the linguist because it creates a path to identifying and analysing emotions. The book offers an outstanding summary of different approaches to both argumentative and emotional discourse. It should be noted that Chapter 5 proposes a list of fallacious emotions, which is truly at the heart of the debate on emotions. The list invites reflection and causes certain questions to be asked; it may turn out to be useful for discourse theoreticians, stylistics specialists and sociologists, among others.
The studies composing the second part of the work provide examples and models for analysis. The analytical approach employed seems usable not only for linguists, but also in the analysis of discourse in general, whether literary, political or even commercial. The diagrams proposed to analyse emotions and the tables that centralise arguments are true reading models applicable to any emotional discourse.
It should also be noted that the bibliography is extremely rich and the theoretical framework very elaborate. It is a book rich in references, and pleasant to follow in terms of presentation, a real concern for presentation, and clarity. The genuine educational approach (e.g. the use of italics, bold letters and diagrams) helps the reader to better follow the author's arguments.
Nevertheless, there are some shortcomings of the book as a final product, especially in terms of punctuation. Quotation marks and angle quotes are used alternatively (e.g. p. 55). In French punctuation, the rule is one space before double punctuation marks; an absence of spacing is particularly noticeable in the case of angle quotes.
By opposing the thesis, according to which ''emotion degrades discourse'', Plantin identifies the traces of emotive communication, defined by Caffi and Janney (1994, p. 348) as ''the intentional strategic signalling of affective information in speech and writing (e.g. evaluative dispositions, evidential commitments, volitional stances, relational orientations, degrees of emphasis, etc.) in order to influence partner's interpretation of situations and reach different goals''. Emotional communication is ''a type of spontaneous, unintentional leakage or bursting out of emotion in speech'' (ibid.). It is obvious that written discourse is placed in the emotive communication category, with the exception of rare traces of emotional communication, which can be identified in the transcriptions of real verbal interactions. Written discourse leaves little place for spontaneous manifestations of emotion. As demonstrated by the seven studies, written texts allow for a detailed analysis of the linguistic forms of emotions but cannot take into account behaviour and aural features.
Even if in ordinary discourse emotion and reason are integral and are carried by the same words and lexical or phrasal constructions, emotion is not seen as a strategy for expression, but rather as a strategy for interaction. Causing emotion means transferring cognitive and linguistic content, thus forcing the speaker to take a stand on this content. The argumentative construction of emotions, as presented in this work, covers five major aspects: the linguistic construction of an emotion, the display of an emotion, the doubting of the emotion displayed, the disagreement on the emotion displayed, and the justification of the emotion. The doubting of the emotion displayed and the disagreement on it are the two aspects which point to the limits of this approach, which are intrinsic limits applicable to all studies on emotions: How do you distinguish a true display of feelings from a false one? The emotional state demonstrated by discourse is inexorably dependent on the language act. The disparity present between emotions and the linguistic expression of emotions reminds us once more that everything is language. Emotion takes the form and the manifestation given to it by language. Emotional discourse is not identified with emotion. It indicates or demonstrates emotion.
In conclusion, it should be reiterated that this study is a remarkable contribution to the identification and the description of emotions in discourse.
Arnauld, Antoine & Nicole, Pierre. 1662/1965. La logique ou l'art de penser contenant outre les règles communes, plusieurs observations nouvelles propres à former le jugement. La logique de Port-Royal. Paris: PUF.
Balibar-Mrabti, Antoinette. 1995. Une étude de la combinatoire des noms de sentiment dans une grammaire locale. Langue française 105. 88-97.
Caffi, Claudia & Janney, Richard. 1994. Toward a Pragmatics of Emotive Communication. Journal of Pragmatics 21. 325-373.
Fearnside, Ward W. & Holther, William B. 1959. Fallacy: The Counterfeit of Argument. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.
Kerbrat-Orecchioni, Catherine. 2000. Quelle place pour les émotions dans la linguistique du XXe siècle ? Remarques et aperçus. In Plantin, Christian et al. 2000. Les émotions dans les interactions. Lyon : PUL.
Lausberg, Heinrich. 1963/1971. Elemente der literarischen Rhetorik. München: Max Hueber.
Mill, John Stuart. 1843. A System of Logic: Raciocinative and Inductive. French translation, 1866. Système de logique déductive et inductive. Paris: Librairie philosophique de Ladrange.
Perelman, Chaïm & Olbrechts-Tyteca, Lucie. 1958/1976. Traité de l'argumentation. La nouvelle rhétorique. Bruxelles: Editions de l'Université de Bruxelles.
Ungerer, Friedrich. 1997. Emotions and emotional language in English and German News Stories. In Niemer, Susanne & Dirven, René (eds). 1997. The Language of Emotion. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Wierzbicka, Anna. 1995. The Relevance of Language to the Study of Emotion. In Niemer, Susanne & Dirven, René (eds). 1997. The Language of Emotion. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Vasilica Le Floch is a lecturer at IUT Charlemagne, Nancy 2 University,
France. She belongs to the IDEA research group (Interdisciplinarity in
English Studies). Her main research interests include language
subjectivity, punctuation, translation and corpus linguistics. She is also
working in the field of computational linguistics.