Illocutionary Force and Perlocutionary Effect Recognition in the (Semi-)Automated Pragmatic Annotation of ELF Spoken Discourse in Migration Domains

Laura Centonze


The adoption of English as a Lingua Franca (henceforth ELF; cf. Seidlhofer 2001; Guido 2008) for mutual understanding by and among interactants with different lingua-cultural backgrounds has become a widespread and well-documented phenomenon and scholars in the field have focused their attention on numerous aspects of its use (business transactions; attitudes of speakers; Facebook interactions; pedagogy; sociolinguistics; discourse cohesion; migration domains; respectively Cogo et al. 2011; Centonze 2013, 2015c, 2016b, forthcoming). The present contribution is part of a research project (Centonze 2017, forthcoming) that aims at introducing a novel approach to spoken discourse in ELF which combines corpus pragmatics (Aijmer and Rühlemann 2015; cf. Aijmer 2002, 2013; Anderson and Corbett 2009) - a relatively new research area in the field of language and discourse studies - with the most recent techniques of quantitative/qualitative analysis and corpus annotation by means of semi-automated software. More specifically, the present research study will focus on the annotation of speech acts from an ELF perspective and on the analysis of speech acts in their frequencies and collocations in a study corpus by means of DART (the Dialogue Annotation Research Tool v 1.1, Weisser 2015), i.e. a research tool which, among other things, includes the pragmatic annotation of spoken discourse. The interest in speech act annotation in the present PhD research project takes as a bedrock for analysis Austin’s (1962) and Searle’s (1975) speech act taxonomy and a critical review of it, which highlights both strengths and weaknesses of such an approach with a consequent need for the implementation of a new categorization system which would be fit for the purposes of the analysis of speech acts in a corpus in English as a Lingua Franca in migration encounters; hence, in the present research project speech acts are not perceived as pre-constructed categories on which to base further studies on discourse but rather undergo a process of resemanticization, re formulation as well as re-contextualization within the framework of a corpusdriven approach applied to ELF. The corpus which is being taken into consideration will be referred to as the ELF MiDo Corpus (English as a Lingua Franca in Migration DOmains corpus) and consists of over 50,000 words of conversation between asylum seekers and intercultural mediators in symmetrical contexts. All the different corpus interviews and interactions are transcribed according to a basic mark-up format (.XML) which proved to be a necessary condition for the whole corpus to be properly scanned for analysis through the DART interface. Corpora subsections are also differentiated according to the typology of speech event and interactant (e.g. informal conversation; meeting; intercultural mediator vs. asylum seeker) - analysis of speech acts is also carried out accordingly.


migration; corpus annotation

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