The use of first person plural as an attitude marker

31 May 2024
Room G1

The use of first person plural as an attitude marker

Adopting the perspective of functional pragmatics (cf. Verschueren 1999; Tátrai 2017), the talk focuses on the study of first-person plural forms in their attitude-marking capacity. Within the category social deixis, the marking of social attitude uses the speaker’s socio-cultural relations and situatedness as a context-dependent vantage point. Its manifestations crucially include person-marking. First person plural forms designating heterogeneous plurality are especially well-suited for expressing the speaker’s social attitude via partial implementation of deictic projection, i.e., a partial displacement of the deictic centre (cf. Sanders–Spooren 1997), which lies with the speaker by default. This phenomenon, variously referred to as virtual/empathetic deixis (cf. Veres-Guspiel 2017), has been identified by the specialized literature in several discourse types in Hungarian, including doctor-patient communication. It may involve adopting either the discourse partner’s perspective or that of a third person absent from the speech situation. The talks begin by presenting discourse types and discursive practices characteristically showing up a virtual deictic use of first-person plural as already explored by previous research. Then it moves on to highlight a previously under-studied area of instantiation in the internet-mediated discourse type of sport fans’ comments on websites associated with their favourite teams. The analysis is based on a Hungarian mini-corpus (80,900n) manually compiled from fan pages on Facebook. The analysis is qualitative in nature, only referring to numerical data for establishing basic patterns. The key research question is what functions are associated with various instantiations of first-person plural (including exclusive, inclusive, and virtual uses), and in what proportions they occur in discourse. My hypothesis is that first-person plural forms overwhelmingly function as expressions of attitude deixis, and this needs to be recognized as a genre-specific feature of sport fans’ discourses, a well-entrenched practice in the discourse community under study



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