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Kate Beeching (University of the West of England, Bristol)

And your point is…? Subtext and a corpus approach to interactional pragmatics


The notion of ‘subtext’ is generally applied to creative works such as books or films where some part of the content is not expressed explicitly but is, rather, implicit and understood by the reader or observer using extralinguistic and contextual clues.

In linguistic pragmatics, Austin’s notion of illocution describes a similar type of everyday interactional behaviour in which there is a dislocation between the literal interpretation of words and what is understood by them. Indeed, Kempson (2001, 414) goes so far as to say that “all word meaning is but a set of procedures… [which] suggests that any word is but the input to the construction of some novel “ad hoc” concept specific to that utterance”.

To take a corpus approach to interactional pragmatics might seem paradoxical: corpora are generally reckoned to be most useful for lexicographic or large-scale quantitative exploits, not for detailed qualitative contextual analysis.

This paper explores the usefulness of spoken corpora in the analysis of meaning in interactional pragmatics and refers specifically to both translation corpora and to the tool-assisted analysis employed with the CLAPI data-base (Bert et al., 2008).

Austin, John L. 1962 How to do things with words. Oxford: Clarendon.
Bert, Michel, Bruxelles, Sylvie, Etienne, Carole, Mondada Lorenza, Traverso, Véronique (Groupe ICOR) 2008 Tool-assisted analysis of interactional corpora : voilà in the CLAPI database. Journal of French Language Studies 18: 121-145.
Kempson, Ruth 2001 “Pragmatics, Language and Communication”. In Arnoff, M. and Rees-Miller, J. (eds), The Handbook of Linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell: 394-427.

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