The pragmatics of repetition, emphasis and intensification

Jackson, RC 2016, The pragmatics of repetition, emphasis and intensification , PhD thesis, Salford.

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It may be tempting to think that humans generally say or do things once in communication. However, repetition for the communication of a particular stylistic effect is a commonplace and everyday occurance. Think of texts with repeated kisses and emoji, lively conversations with friends who excitedly produce the same utterance again, and adverts and branding campaigns that feature repeated utterances and forms. Within Relevance Theory pragmatics, pragmatic stylistics generally, and in some areas of linguistics proper, stylistic repetition is understudied and under-understood. The term is applied to a rag-tag muddle of phenomena that have little in common from the point of view of form, interpretation or effects. Utterances repeated due to illness, repeated forms mandated by the grammar (reduplication), forms necessarily repeated due to limits on linguistic resources (e.g., re-use of the common conjunction ‘and’), and the repetitions in poetry or rhetoric, or the repetitions produced by emphatic speakers are often lumped together, without consideration of speaker intentions, the nature of communication, or the division of labour between linguistic en-/decoding and pragmatic inference. Yet, these are all qualitatively distinct. This thesis (re)assesses a set of phenomena which have been called repetition, for example, reduplication, epizeuxis, and ‘long distance’ repetition, as well as repetition phenomena which have not yet been given detailed treatments within cognitive pragmatics, pragmatic stylistics or linguistics, such as repeated gradable adjectives, repeated intensifiers, repeated yes/no particles, and repeated face emoji. Study is restricted to the deliberate and ostensive repetition of such items for communicating vague and non-propositional effects. It is noted that many repetitions, particularly epizeuxis, are often called emphatic, or intensifying, or both. A key aim of this work is to combat the conflation surrounding the effects of stylistic repetitions, and to explain how such repetitions are recognised in the first instance as intended to communicate non-propositional effects. The work is carried out within Relevance Theory pragmatics (Sperber & Wilson, 1986/1995) and draws on the showing-saying continuum developed by Wharton (2009). From the point of view of how they achieve relevance, the repeated forms examined are all analysed as cases of indeterminate showing (Sperber & Wilson, 2015), and stylistic repetition is, as such, a non-verbal behaviour which allows a speaker to communicate a vague range of effects by providing relatively direct evidence for what their communication. Along the way, it is suggested that intensification is a processing phenomenon and not an effect, while emphasis is also judged not an effect, and is defined instead as highly ostensive showing on the part of a speaker. With support from repetition data, the author proposes a continuum of cases from mere display, through what is called highlighting (Wharton & Wilson, 2005), to emphasis, allowing for more fine-grained analyses of pragmatic phenomena in similar contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Funders: N/A
Depositing User: RC Jackson
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2017 09:37
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 23:30

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