Article published in:Certainty and Uncertainty in Dialogue
Edited by Andrzej Zuczkowski
[Language and Dialogue 4:1] 2014
► pp. 7–23
Certainty, uncertainty and unexpectedness in English and French
Towards a redefinition of the epistemic stance
The present contrastive English-French case study examines interactions in which an unexpected factor triggers a verbal reaction of surprise, hence affecting a speaker’s level of certainty. We focus on why-would questions in English and their equivalents in French and analyse them from a pragmatic viewpoint. The dialogues under scrutiny, drawn from the American series Desperate Housewives, show that the epistemic stance of speakers engaged in verbal interaction is constantly negotiated and co-constructed as the exchange unfolds, and that the traditional binary opposition between certainty and uncertainty may not constitute an adequate theoretical model. A distinct epistemic stance is called for, i.e. modal remoteness. This stance does exist in both languages. And yet it does not relate to certainty and uncertainty in the same way in English and in French.
Keywords: certainty, uncertainty, question, surprise, unexpectedness, modal remoteness, epistemic stance
Published online: 20 May 2014
Celle, Agnès, and Laure Lansari
in press. “On the Mirative Meaning of Aller + Infinitive Compared with its Equivalents in English.” Cahiers Chronos 101: 297-313.
2003 Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life. New York: Times Books. http://psybc.com/pdfs/library/EkmanP_SurpriseandFear7.pdf.
Huddleston, Rodney, and Geoffrey K. Pullum
Novakova, Iva, Vannina Goossens, and Elena Melnikova
2012 “Associations Sémantiques et Syntaxiques Spécifiques. Sur l’Exemple du Lexique Émotionnel des Champs de Surprise et de Déception .” Présentation, Congrès Mondial de Linguistique Française, http://www.shsconferences.org/index.php?option=com_article&access=doi&doi=10.1051/shsconf/20120100181&Itemid=129 [03.03.2013].
Ortony, Andrew, Gerald Clore, and Allan Collin
Peirce, Charles Sanders
2006 “Rhetorical Questions as Redundant Interrogatives.” San Diego Linguistic Papers 21, http://escholarship.org/uc/item/4xd7t5ww
Roseman, Ira J
Scherer, Klaus R
Schwarz, Norbert, and Gerald Clore
Smith, Craig A., and Phoebe C. Ellsworth
Tiedens, Larissa Z., and Susan Linton
Cited by 2 other publications
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 03 april 2022. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.