Article published in:From Culture to Language and Back: The Animacy Hierarchy in language and discourse
Edited by Laure Gardelle and Sandrine Sorlin
[International Journal of Language and Culture 5:2] 2018
► pp. 224–247
Animals, animacy and anthropocentrism
This paper explores various ways in which contemporary British English depicts degrees of animacy among nonhuman animals, and demonstrates the anthropocentric qualities of much discourse about animals. The first section reviews discussions of animacy in relevant research literature, highlighting how these often take for granted a categorical distinction between humans and other animals, before demonstrating how both corpus-assisted approaches to discourse analysis and developments in the analysis of animacy point to a more complex picture. The second section discusses the implications of recent work in social theory for understanding organisms, and their degrees of animacy, from the perspective of networks rather than hierarchies. The third section of the paper presents analyses of an electronically stored corpus of language about animals. Three analyses of naming terms, descriptors and verbal patterns associated with various non-human animals illustrate a range of ways in which their animacy is denoted and connoted. They also demonstrate the influence of discourse type and human purpose on depictions of animals and assumptions about their animacy.
- Animacy: Hierarchies and taxonomies
- Linguistic markers of animacy
- Humans and other animals as networks
- A corpus of texts about animals
- Approaches to analysis
- Analysis 1: Subject animals in scientific journal articles
- Analysis 2: Animals compared across the whole corpus
- Analysis 3: Contrasting representations of dogs
Published online: 28 June 2018
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