Les Émotions dans les Interactions

Les Émotions dans les Interactions

Journal of Pragmatics 35 (2003) 931–936 www.elsevier.com/locate/pragma Book review Les E´motions dans les Interactions Review of C. Plantin, M. Dour...

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Journal of Pragmatics 35 (2003) 931–936 www.elsevier.com/locate/pragma

Book review

Les E´motions dans les Interactions Review of C. Plantin, M. Doury, V. Traverso (Eds.); Presses Universitaires de Lyon (Collection ‘‘Ethologie et Psycholologie des Communications), Lyon, 2000, 329 pages, ff 158, Euro 24.08 Emotions have triggered an increasing interest in recent years, as is also attested by several current web sites.1 Philosophers from the ancient Greeks to contemporary scholars, psychologists, linguists, and, more recently, neurophysiologists and computational scientists have discussed ‘emotions’. Defining ‘emotions’ is a controversial issue: several scholars (see e.g. Bodei, 1991; Bazzanella and Kobau, 2002), in various traditions (see Ekkehard Eggs, in the book under review), and in different cultures (see Wierzbicka, 1992), distinguish between emotions and passions, or other emotional attitudes which differ in intensity and duration. Nowadays, this distinction is commonly neglected in the English-speaking world, and will not be referred to here. I would like to briefly call to mind three general points regarding emotions before going on to discuss the volume under review. The first concerns the traditional distance between scientific theories, on the one hand, and, on the other, naive theories of emotions which everybody refers to—and lives with—more or less unconsciously (see D’Urso and Trentin, 1988). In recent research developments, there has been an initial attempt to bridge this gap, particularly in interactional approaches. The second point is the normality of emotions, in contrast with the traditional view that contrasted emotions with reason; condemning the former and assigning a central role to the latter. Thirdly, I would like to touch on the complexity of emotions which emerges at several levels (the nested interplay with mind/language/behavior/culture, the number of correlated physiological and neurological features, their universality or relativity), and which requires an interdisciplinary approach. As Elster (1999: 403) argues, ‘‘Emotions are the most important bond or glue that links us to others.’’ In a way, the contributors to this volume have set out to tackle some of Elster’s own unresolved issues (1999: 417), among them the isolation of the atomic mechanisms involved in interaction. Such mechanisms and ‘‘molecular patterns’’, 1 See http://www.sign-lang.uni-hamburg.de/Projekte/plex/PLex/Lemmata/Oberbegr/Emotion.htm, http:// www.unige.ch/fapse/emotion/welcome.html, http://trochim.human.cornell.edu/gallery/young/ emotion.htm, http://emotion.salk.edu/emotion.html. See also the ESF recent Workshop on Emotions in dialogic interaction, Advances in the complex, organized by Edda Weigand at the University of Mu¨nster, Germany (http://www. uni-muenster.de/Ling/esf-workshop/index.htm)


Book review / Journal of Pragmatics 35 (2003) 931–936

which provide both theoretical frameworks and specific analyses (rightly based on corpora and empirical data),2 are identified in this book. Three types of corpora are included:  written (political, scientific and literary texts, newspapers, e-mails);  interactional (semi-experimental, therapeutic, institutional, ordinary interaction);  media (TV, radio, movies, CMC—which I would put in the interactional category). For the sake of presentation the editors have set out three disciplinary fields: ‘‘linguistique des interactions, psychologie, se´miotique’’. Another distinction proposed by the editors in the preface, between the external perspective (i.e. methodology, disciplinary fields, corpus), and the internal one, does not seem to be very useful for dealing with those contributions where the two perspectives are inextricably linked. Difficulties in classifying complex phenomena are well known (see e.g. Austin, 1962; Givo´n, 1989; Akman and Bazzanella, forthcoming). The authors themselves recognize that these groupings obviously do not constitute binary trees (p. 9). In other words, the various groupings (e.g. that between ‘‘e´motions exprime´es’’ and ‘‘ressenties’’, which corresponds to the distinction between ‘‘langage e´motif/langage e´motionnel’’ (p. 11), rightly seem to be taken more as a heuristic device than as a rigid taxonomy. Some ‘hidden’ common trends which are of particular interest to a pragmatic audience will constitute the ‘fil rouge’ of my review: first, contextual relevance; secondly, the relationship between emotion and cognition; thirdly, the pluridimensionality of emotions. A. The contextual relevance of emotions is more or less explicitly present in many of the contributions in the volume: Eggs stresses the situation that causes a feeling of humiliation, and the underlying theory that there are specific situations which cause well determined feelings (p. 16), and rightly relates it to Aristotle’s thought. Also the ‘‘normativity’’ of emotions is related by Eggs to context: he thinks that we also and mainly have normative ideas about the right and adequate manifestation of an emotion within a given background (p. 29). Catherine Kerbrat Orecchioni, in her interesting review of the status of emotions in twentieth-century linguistics, while recognizing the crucial and distinctive position of Bally, recalls the great problem of knowing if the emotional values carried by the statements come from their internal characteristics, or follow from more external factors relevant for their enunciation, as it were, the situation and the correlated prosody and gestures (p. 36). Furthermore, she stresses the problem of variation not only across cultures, but within a given society, with regard to the social environment, status, age and sex of people participating in the interaction (p. 56). In Dario Galati and Barbara Sini’s contribution (which deals with ‘Les structures se´mantiques du lexique franc¸ais des e´motions’, on the basis of empirical data from a 2 As a general methodological comment, it seems important to stress that the need for a representative corpus for analyzing language in use is nowadays accepted by nearly everyone, and the positive results of this change are evident in the richness of the data offered here, and the subsequent possibility to test theoretical hypotheses.

Book review / Journal of Pragmatics 35 (2003) 931–936


joint research project between the Universities of Turin and Lyon II), different linguistic and cultural contexts, namely, Anglo-Saxon languages, on the one hand, and Neo-Latin European languages, on the other, are taken into account. While the groupings of emotional words seem to be consistent in Italian and French, they differ with regard to English, thus stimulating further investigations into Neo-Latin languages, in order to highlight the peculiar way in which they express and model the emotional experience (p. 87). The deictic components moi, toi, dans cette situation, and ‘‘la dislocation de´ictique’’ (e.g. ‘‘la strategie d’objectivation base´e sur un non-ego’’, which is used by doctors in therapeutic counseling) are examined by Claudia Caffi in her chapter on ‘Aspects du calibrage des distances e´motives entre rhe´torique et psychologie’, which mainly deals with mitigation. Claude Chabrol (‘De l’impression des personnes a` l’expression communicationnelle des e´motions’), while dealing with basic emotions, points out their lack of contextualization: their representation has to be found in the lexicon and in their propositional semantics. Besides providing a review of psychological and cinesic/ proxemic theories, he proposes a distinct paradigm, ‘‘l’expressivite´ e´motionelle’’, which interferes with the textual treatment: in experimental cases, ‘‘les sujets entrent ‘en congruence’ affective avec l’orientation sugge´re´e dans la situation’’ (p. 117). Patrick Charaudeau, in his contribution on ‘Une proble´matisation discursive de l’e´motion. ‘‘A propos des effets de pathe´misation a` la te´le´vision’, speaks about the ‘‘transgression situationnelle’’ with regard to Benetton advertisements, and correlates the ‘pathe´mique’ world with the socio-cultural situation of the communicative exchange, arguing that a word can change depending on its context and its use (p. 139). In Roxanne Bertrand, Apostolos Matsangos, Blandine Pe´richon and Robert Vion’s chapter (‘L’observation et l’analyse des affects dans l’interaction’), a contextual parameter, namely the fact that the interlocutors were acquainted with the interviewer, reveals its relevance to the conversational development. Antoine Auchlin (‘Grain fin et rendu e´motionnel subtil dans l’observation des interactions: sur le caracte`re ‘trans-e´piste´mique’ des attributions d’e´motions’), in his analysis of a fragment of a broadcasted telephone-call, where psychological states are the object of the interaction, introduces the notion of ‘dissipation du contexte’, in the sense that each new turn partly cancels the context pregnancy, to an edge beyond which context completely disappears, because there is no more speech left, but only a sort of music or the end of participation (people hang up) (pp. 201–202). Ve´ronique Traverso, who deals with emotions ‘‘dans la confidence’’ between two old friends, distinguishes between three levels of analysis, the first of which offers an explicit contextual parameter: the emotion linked to the very situation, and precisely to the fact that confidence is a form of self-disclosure (p. 206), the evoked emotion and the interactional emotion (p. 207). She applies both Caffi and Janney’s 1994 parameters (i.e. evaluation, intensity, control), and Plantin’s 1998 ‘‘topique des e´motions’’ (i.e. the psychological environment, causes and consequences), and stresses the different roles of confidant and speaker.


Book review / Journal of Pragmatics 35 (2003) 931–936

Robert Bouchard (‘M’enfin!!! Des ‘petits mots’ pour les petites e´motions?’) considers what are commonly labeled discourse markers. The experimental situation which is proposed by Bouchard (two non-natives are requested to write a text together on ‘‘la ne´cessite´ des devoirs a` la maison a` l’e´cole primaire’’) creates a particular context, centered on a collective action, which has to be continuously checked and negotiated. In this process, the ‘‘petits mots’’, such as donc, mais, bon, alors, and enfin, perform both an interactional and a metatextual/structuring function, in addition to the cognitive one (see Bazzanella, forthcoming). The particular kind of interaction which is analyzed by Michel Marcoccia, namely CMC, is characterized by decontextualization with regard to both the identity and the location of the participants; specifically, smileys iconically conventionalize the expression of emotions, and replace intonation in several cases, in a ‘‘forme ludique de socialisation’’ (p. 262). Giuseppe Manno, in his chapter on ‘L’appel a` l’aide humanitaire: un genre directif e´motionnel’, analyzes the emotions related to three ‘‘lieux psychologiques’’— speaker, addressee, and ‘‘de´locute´’’, namely people needing help (p. 285), and stresses the lack of a common context between ‘‘de´locute´’’ and addressee: the humanitarian associations stimulate and ‘mediate’ the emotions. Douglas Walton, who deals with appeals to emotion and conversational logic (which partly converges with ‘‘new techniques of reasoning and information retrieval used in computer science’’ p. 296), underlines the significance of context in use to evaluate a given argument correctly. B. The relevance of emotion to cognition is of course undisputed; as Wierzbicka (1996: 180) states that the definition of an emotional term is shaped according to a prototypical background that does not describe an external situation, but an extremely abstract cognitive structure. Charaudeau stresses how the cognitive basis of emotions is agreed upon, and relates them to the ‘‘savoirs de croyance’’ and the topic of representation which encompasses both symbolization and auto-presentation (p. 132). The notion of scenario is referred to by Eggs, Claire Maury-Rouan, Ruth Amossy (‘Pathos, sentiment moral et raison: L’exemple de Maurice Barre´s’), that of schema by Chabrol; inferential processes, as implicit information and presuppositions, are mentioned in several contributions. C. The pluridimensionality of the emotions is discussed by only some of the authors: among them, Chabrol, who stresses the interaction of several dimensions. Bertrand, Matsangos, Pe´richon and Vion’s contribution discusses the problem of elaborating a corpus suitable for the study of emotion which takes the different modes of communication (‘‘verbal, paraverbal ou mimo-gestuel’’, p. 169) into account. Ve´ronique Traverso rightly considers intonation and changes in speed as significant cues of involvement and understanding. Maury-Rouan chooses a catchy and onomatopoeic title: ‘Pourquoi chuchoter quand on parle de chocolats?’ to present the management of emotions on the verbal, vocal, and mimo-postural-gestural level. In Bouchard’s particular interaction between non-natives, both anti-verbal and para-verbal expressions are employed. Typical of an interactional approach are some topics which are mentioned by Kerbrat Orecchioni (‘Quelle place pour les e´motions dans la linguistique du XXe

Book review / Journal of Pragmatics 35 (2003) 931–936


sie`cle? Remarques et aperc¸us’), and which recur throughout the entire collection: the notion of empathy (see Cosnier, 1994, and here, co-authored by Huyghues-Despointes in collaboration with Marie-Lise Brunel of the University of Que´bec: ‘Les mimiques du cre´ateur, ou l’auto-re´ference des repre´sentations affectives’; see also Caffi, Charadeau, Traverso and Martel’s chapters here), involvement, conflict, the relationship with politeness, and intercultural variation in general. Another topic which characterizes an interactional approach, and is found in the book, is the co-production of meaning: see Bertrand, Matsangos, Pe´richon, and Vion’s ‘‘co-e´nonciation’’ that implies the dimension of the joined action (p. 178), Maury-Rouan’s ‘‘co-construction’’ of speech turns (p. 185), Auchlin’s ‘‘synchronization’’ (p. 201), Traverso’s ‘‘cooperation’’ (p. 216), and Bouchard’s ‘‘co-action’’ (p. 228). As Ochs and Schieffelin (1989: 22) state: ‘‘Affect permeates the entire linguistic system. Almost any aspect of the linguistic system [. . .] is a candidate for expressing affect’’. Linguistic markers which make emotion explicit are discussed in Guylaine Martel’s chapter (‘Le´ de´bat politique te´le´vise´. Une strate´gie argumentative en trois dimensions: textuelle, interactionnelle et e´motionnelle’) which studies the videorecorded debate for the elections of the Canadian government (1997). Several emotional markers are pointed out by Marianne Doury in her chapter (‘La re´futation par accusation d’e´motion: exploitation argumentative de l’e´motion dans une controverse a` the`me scientifique’) on a debate published in the scientific journal, La Recherche. Giuseppe Manno points to expressive syntax, i.e. phenomena such as repetition and dislocation, and pragmatic/rhetorical devices such as allocutivity and emphasis. To fully appreciate the broad range of topics, and the further information one can derive from the non-verbal channels, I would highly recommend not only reading the whole book, but also consulting the CD which contains the complete proceedings of the congress held at the University of Lyon 2 (Les e´motions dans les interactions communicatives, 17–19 September 1997), and organized by GRIC (Groupe de Recherches sur les Interactions Communicatives). With regard to the CD, one cannot help agreeing with the authors who claim that the introduction of this medium is an undeniable qualitative progress for the analysis of interactions (p. 7). The technological characteristics of the CD are well-exploited: a larger number of contributions is included (19 chapters in the book and 57 papers on the CD), no aid to exploration is lacking. A complete summary appears at the beginning, a search of the texts based on three domains is provided (‘‘documents sonores’’, ‘‘document graphiques’’, ‘‘documents te´le´visuels’’), hyper-textual links are in red and returning both to the summary and to the preceding screen are facilitated by the use of icons. The ‘‘bibliographie des bibliographies’’ collects the individual references, and, though mainly French-centered, it is representative of the present interactional approach. In conclusion, this book will be of interest to all scholars who are interested in human interaction, and in the very significant role played by emotions in that interaction. There is no doubt that, with regard to the wide and complex topic of emotions, as Plutchick (1984: 218) says: ‘‘The theory remains an evolving concept, subject to new data and insights.’’


Book review / Journal of Pragmatics 35 (2003) 931–936

References Akman, Varol, Bazzanella, Carla. The complexity of context. In: On Context. Journal of Pragmatics (special issue), 35, 321–329 Austin, JohnL., 1962. How to Do Things with Words. Clarendon Press, Oxford. Bazzanella, Carla. Discourse markers in Italian: towards a ‘compositional’ meaning. In: Fischer, K. (Ed.): Approaches to Discourse Particles. De Gruyter, Berlin/New York (in preparation). Bazzanella, Carla, Kobau, Pietro (Eds.), 2002. Passioni, Emozioni, Affetti. McGraw-Hill, Milano. Bodei, Remo, 1991. Geometria delle Passioni. Paura, Speranza, Felicita`: Filosofia e Uso Politico. Feltrinelli, Milano. Caffi, Claudia, Janney, Richard W. (Eds.), 1994. Involvement in Language (special issue). Journal of Pragmatics 22, 301. Cosnier, Jacques, 1994. Psychologie des ‘‘Emotions et des Sentiments. Retz, Paris. D’Urso, Valentina, Trentin, Rosanna (Eds.), 1988. Psicologia delle Emozioni. Il Mulino, Bologna. Elster, John, 1999. Alchemies of the Mind. Rationality and Emotions. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Givo´n, Talmy, 1989. Mind, Code and Context. Essays in Pragmatics. Erlbaum, Hillsdale. Ochs, Elinor, Schieffelin, Bambi, 1999. Language has a heart. In: Ochs, E. (Ed.), The Pragmatics of Affect. Text 9, 7–25. Plantin, Christian, 1998. Les raisons des e´motions. In: Bondi, Marina (Ed.), Forms of Argumentative Discourse. Per un’Analisi Linguistica dell’Argomentare. Clueb, Bologna, pp. 3–50. Plutchick, Robert, 1984. Emotions: a general psychoevolutionary theory. In: Scherer, K.R., Ekman, P. (Eds.), Approaches to Emotion. LEA, NJ, pp. 197–219. Wierzbicka, Anna, 1992. Talking about emotions: semantics, culture and cognition. Cognition and Emotion 6, 285–319. Carla Bazzanella taught Philosophy of Language from 1991 to 1998 at the University of Turin, Italy. From 2001 she has been teaching General Linguistics at the University of Turin, Italy. She has published books and papers in both English and Italian, in national and international journals. Current research areas include philosophy of ordinary language, pragmatics, interactional linguistics, psycholinguistics.

Carla Bazzanella Dipartimento di Filosofia Universita` degli Studi di Torino v. S. Ottavio 20, 10124 Torino, Italy E-mail address: [email protected]