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学术情思:廖美珍学术论文自选集:国际语用学协会秘书长耶夫 维索尔伦教授序言

来源: 责编:liaomz 作者:佚名 时间:2014-11-14 浏览:
 

 

 

FOREWORD

 

While many of the references are to the work of ‘western’ scholars, this volume comprises a number of truly original and innovative Chinese contributions to the field of linguistic pragmatics, conceived in its broadest sense as the interdisciplinary linguistic, cognitive, social, and cultural science of language use. Having been able to read only those articles that were previously published in English international journals, I have to restrict my comments to those, but I am confident that the others cannot be but equally inspiring.

To begin with, Professor Liao Meizhen’s approach to metaphor lifts that field of investigation out of its frequent confinement to relatively isolated examples looked at in their own right, usually in terms of the way in which the comparisons they embody contribute to conceptualizations of a state of affairs. His approach has more affinities with rhetoric, studying the argumentative role which metaphors play in a variety of public (often political) discourses. But – and here lies the originality – he focuses at the more abstract role which metaphors can be observed to play in the establishment of cohesion and coherence at a textual level.

While the study of metaphor is relevant for the investigation of most types of discourse – since the use of metaphors is a fundamental aspect of language use in general – Professor Liao Meizhen’s other contributions are mainly situated in the quickly expanding field of forensic linguistics (a recent overview of which is provided by Elisabeth Carter 2014). Within this institutional context, which he explicitly approaches in a contrastive manner, opposing mainly American and Chinese examples, he focuses on two quite distinct phenomena.

First of all, he studies differences in the conversational (or at least interactional) practice of interrupting. Without moving away from what is observable in the discourse, he points out the contextual orientations of the interactants which show the different ways in which power imbalances permeate the negotiation of justice in China and the U.S.A. While reminiscent of work by Heritage & Clayman (2010) or D’hondt (2010), amongst many others, which indicate from different points of view how asymmetrical power is in the courtroom, the focus on interruptions (who interrupts whom, how frequently, and for what interactional purposes) provides insights in the specific institutional frames of interpretation that underlie the gap that separates Chinese and American practices.

Second, the concluding activity type in criminal court trials, ‘sentencing’, is compared in terms of structure and content across Chinese and American examples. The observed – and significant – differences are convincingly linked with the historical developments of the two traditions and their socio-cultural and political-ideological embedding.  Professor Liao Meizhen does not shy away from reference to fundamental concepts underpinning ‘local’ practices (such as Chinese li vs. fa, in comparison with American ‘(rule of) law’), thus bringing in a much-needed metapragmatic angle.

More research of this type is needed to help us move away from naïve assumptions of universality that induce us to think of our own socially and culturally constricted experiences of language use (whether institutional of not) as maximally representative of a supposedly corresponding universal experience.

 

Jef Verschueren

University of Antwerp
International Pragmatics Association

 

References

Carter, Elisabeth (2014) “Forensic linguistics”. In J.-O. Östman & J. Verschueren, Handbook of Pragmatics (18th annual installment). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (Also available online: www.benjamins.com/online) 

D’hondt, Sigurd (2010)  “The cultural defense as courtroom drama: the enactment of identity, sameness and difference in criminal trial discourse”.  Law and Social Inquiry  35:1. 67-98.

Heritage, John & Steven Clayman (2010) Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities, and Institutions. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.