Contextualization and perspectivization in lyrics

31 May 2024
Room F1

Contextualization and perspectivization in lyrics

The paper approaches the dynamic process of contextualization (cf. Auer 2009) as a mobilization of background knowledge that seems relevant to the perspectives of discourse participants. It operates a model of context-dependent vantage points according to which the (i) spatio-temporal positioning, (ii) sociocultural situatedness and (iii) stance consciousness of discourse participants in the context of joint attention together play a crucial role in the intersubjective construal of referential scenes (cf. Croft 2009, Verhagen 2019).

In characterizing the contextualization of popular song lyrics, it is assumed that the recipients of song lyrics not only have to process the intersubjective context of the actual discourse of which they themselves become participants with the author of the song lyrics, but also, in the framework of this process, have to contextualize the fictional discourses created through the apostrophic acts (cf. Culler 2015). In the context of the song lyrics, all apostrophic acts can be understood as a kind of perspectivisation that brings into play fictional spatio-temporal positions, socio-cultural roles and cognitive attitudes as context-dependent vantage points of construal. The paper argues that (i) spatio-temporal positions play an essential role in the contextualization of the apostrophic discourses of song lyrics in the processing of epistemic immediacy, (ii) sociocultural situations in style attribution, and (iii) stances of consciousness in the formation of metapragmatic reflexivity.

The paper presents these contextualizing operations based on the lyrics sub-corpus of Corpus of Hungarian Lyrical Poetry (Horváth, Simon & Tátrai 2022).



Auer, P. (2009). Context and contextualization. In Verschueren, J., Östman, J-O., (eds.): Key notions for pragmatics (pp. 86-101). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Croft, W. (2009). Towards a social cognitive linguistics. In Evans, V., Pourcel, S. (eds.): New directions in cognitive linguistics (395-420). Amterdam: John Benjamins.

Culler, J. (2015). Theory of the lyric. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Horváth, P., Simon, G. & Tátrai, Sz. (2022). Annotation of person marking constructions in the Corpus of Hungarian Lyrical Poetry. Studia Linguistica Hungarica 34, 22-37.

Verhagen, A. (2019). Shifting tenses, viewpoints, and the nature of narrative communication. Cognitive Linguistics 30(2), 351-375.