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UNIT 24

THE EXPRESSION OF ASSERTION, EMPHASIS AND


DISAGREEMENT.
1.

2.

3.

INTRODUCTION.
1.1. Aims of the unit.
1.2. Notes on bibliography.
A LINGUISTIC FRAMEWORK FOR THE NOTIONS OF ASSERTION, EMPHASIS AND
DISAGREEMENT.
2.1. Linguistic levels involved.
2.2. On defin ing assertion, emphasis and disagreement: what and how.
2.3. Grammar categories: open vs. closed classes.
A GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE EXPRESSION OF ASSERTION, EMPHASIS AND
DISAGREEMENT.
3.1. Verbal vs. non-verbal communication.
3.2. The relevance of Pragmatics.
3.3. The Speech Act Theory.
3.3.1. Main types of speech acts.
3.3.2. Locutionary, illocutionary, perlocutionary acts.
3.3.3. Illocutionary acts: performative verbs.
3.4. Syntactic constructions and the illocutionary force.

4.

THE EXPRESSION OF ASSERTION.


4.1. Definition: assertion vs. non-assertion.
4.2. Linguistic vs. Non-linguistic means.
4.3. Linguistic means of expressing assertion.
4.3.1. Main syntactic structures.
4.3.2. Main grammatical categories.

5.

THE EXPRESSION OF EMPHASIS.


5.1. Definition: the notion of emphasis.
5.2. Linguistic vs. Non-linguistic means.
5.3. Linguistic means of expressing emphasis.
5.3.1. Main syntactic structures.
5.3.2. Main grammatical categories.

6.

THE EXPRESSION OF DISAGREEMENT.


6.1. Definition: agreement vs. disagreement.
6.2. Linguistic vs. Non-linguistic means.
6.3. Linguistic means of expressing disagreement.
6.3.1. Main syntactic structures.
6.3.2. Main grammatical categories.

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7. EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS.
8. CONCLUSION.
9. BIBLIOGRAPHY.

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1. INTRODUCTION.
1.1. Aims of the unit.
Unit 24 is primarily aimed to examine the English the expression of assertion, emphasis and
disagreement in terms of their main structural features regarding form, function and main uses in
order to provide a relevant and detailed account of this issue. Therefore, the study will be divided
into nine chapters.
Thus, Chapter 2 provides an analysis of the notions of assertion, emphasis and disagreement in
English in terms of form, main functions and uses. In fact, this introductory chapter aims at
answering questions such as, first, which linguistic levels are involved in the notions of assertion,
emphasis and disagreement; second, what they describe and how; and third, which grammar
categories are involved in their description at a functional level.

Once we have set up these notions within a linguistic framework, , we shall continue on offering the
reader in Chapter 3 a general introduction to the expression of assertion, emphasis and
disagreement regarding key concepts and theories which are closely related to them and which
prove to be essential in our analysis of all the three notions so as to get a relevant and overall view
of the whole unit. Thus, we shall start by revising some important concepts which are closely
related to the description of assertion, emphasis and disagreement: for instance, (1) their expression
within verbal vs. non-verbal communication; (2) the relevance of the field of pragmatics within
their study; and therefore (3) an analysis of the Speech Act Theory following the main explorations
of Austin (1975) and Searle (1969) on reviewing (a) types of speech acts, (b) the notions of
locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary acts and (c) performative verbs as part of the
illocutionary act; and finally, (4) the relevant relationship between syntactic constructions and the
illocutionary force. Once we have reviewed all these points, we are ready to examine individually
the expression of assertion, emphasis and disagreement in the subsequent chapters.
Chapters 4, 5 and 6 will offer an individual analysis of each item regarding (1) definition of the
term; (2) the difference between the linguistic vs. non-linguistic means; (3) within the linguistic
means, an analysis of the main ways of expressing each item through (a) major syntactic
constructions and (b) main grammatical categories, namely by making comments on their structural
features, that is, morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics.

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Chapter 7 provides an educational framework for the structural features of sentence structure within
our current school curriculum, and Chapter 8 draws on a summary of all the points involved in this
study. Finally, in Chapter 9 bibliography will be listed in alphabetical order.

1.1. Notes on bibliography.


In order to offer an insightful analysis and survey on the expression of assertion, emphasis and
disagreement in English regarding respectively sentence typology and ways of expressing emphasis
and disagreement, we shall deal with the most relevant works in the field, both old and current, and
in particular, influential grammar books which have assisted for years students of English as a
foreign language in their study of grammar. For instance, a theoretical framework for this type of
verbs is namely drawn from the fields of, first, sentence analysis, that is, from the work of Thomson
& Martinet in A Practical English Grammar (1986); Flor Aarts and Jan Aarts (University of
Nijmegen, Holland) in English Syntactic Structures (1988); and also, Rodney Huddleston with his
book entitled English Grammar, An Outline (1988); and secondly, from the field of pragmatics, that
is find authors related to pragmatics.
Other classic references which offer an account of the most important and central grammatical
constructions and categories in English regarding the expression of assertion, emphasis and
disagreement, are Quirk & Greenbaum, A University Grammar of English (1973); Snchez
Benedito, Gram tica Inglesa (1975); Greenbaum & Quirk, A Students Grammar of the English
Language (1990); and Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum, The Cambridge Grammar of
the English Language (2002). Main approaches to notional grammar and pragmatics are taken from
Searle, Speech Acts (1969), Austin, How to Do Things With Words (1962); van Ek, J.A.; and J.L.M.
Trim, Vantage (2001).

2.

A LINGUISTIC FRAMEWORK FOR THE EXPRESSION OF ASSERTION, EMPHASIS


AND DISAGREEMENT.

Before examining in detail the notions of assertion, emphasis and disagreement in English in terms
of form, main functions and uses, it is relevant to establish first a linguistic framework in order to

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fully understand this issue. In fact, this introductory chapter aims at answering questions such as,
first, which linguistic levels are involved in the notions of assertion, emphasis and disagreement;
second, what they describe and how; and third, which grammar categories are involved in their
description at a functional level.

2.1. Linguistic levels involved.


In order to offer a linguistic description of the notions under study , we must confine them to
particular levels of analysis so as to focus our attention on this particular aspect of language. Yet,
although there is no consensus of opinion on the number of levels to be distinguished, the usual
description of a language comprises four major components: phonology, grammar, lexicon, and
semantics, out of which we get five major levels: phonological, morphological and syntactic,
lexical, and semantic (Huddle ston, 1988). However, due to the relevance of the speakers attitude
with respect to the expression of assertion, emphasis and disagreement, we shall include here the
field of pragmatics within our analysis since it is a central element so as to fully understand the
items to be described.
First, the phonology describes the sound level, that is, the pronunciation (stress, rhythm, tone and
intonation) within the sentence structure. Secondly, since the two most basic units of grammar are
the word and the sentence, the component of grammar involves the morphological level (i.e. third
person singular in positive statements) and the syntactic level (i.e. grammatical typology of
sentences statements, questions, commands and exclamations). Third, the lexicon, or lexical level,
lists vocabulary items which are closely related to the expression of assertion, emphasis and
disagreement (verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc).
Another dimension is the study of meaning , that is, semantics, or the semantic level, to which all
four of the major components are related regarding. We must not forget that a linguistic description
which ignores meaning is obviously incomplete, and in particular for our purposes, where semantics
plays a very important role in order to express what the speaker wants to say. Similarly, from a
functional approach, we must bear in mind the prominence of pragmatics in speech acts when
dealing with how to say things in English, that is, taking into account the speakers attitude and
the context where the sentence is uttered, where meaning and the speakers attitude are essential
elements in communicative exchanges (oral, written, paralinguistic).

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2.2. On defining assertion, emphasis and disagreement: what, how and why.
On defining these notions, we must link their linguistic description, that is, what they represent
(speech acts) to (1) how they are represented, both grammatically (different grammatical categories:
verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc) and syntactically (the types of sentences in which they are embedded);
and (3) to their function and why they are used in the speech act, that is, to explain the speakers
attitude. Traditionally, these notions have been defined as speech acts (assertion, questions, orders
and requests) which take place within certain types of sentences (declaratives, interrogative,
imperative) with a particular function (convey information true or false-; elicit information;
commands which cause others to behave in certain ways).

Since they are defined on the basis of sentence analysis, they are closely related to the domain of
text grammar and discourse analysis because of their syntactic structures and the different
illocutionary acts they may represent. In general, they work with a wide range of grammatical
constructions, from the simplest ones like the word to the largest unit of grammatical description
like the sentence. Both extremes will be taken into account when embedded in larger stretches of
langua ge such as paragraphs and texts (discourse analysis).
Before examining them in detail, we shall provide a bried definition of each concept. First, the
notion of assertion is to be found within the study of acts of communication and, in particular,
within Searles theory of Speech Acts (1969) where he distinguishes five types: representatives,
commissives, directives, declarations, expressives and verdicatives. Searles theory states that
assertions are to be found within a representative speech act which stands for some state of
affairs; and similarly, emphasis and disagreement are to be framed within the expressive
speech act that indicates the speaker's psychological state or mental attitude: on emphasizing the
prominence of a fact/person/thing on the part of the speaker or on denying, showing opposition and
contradicting other statements/ideas/facts/etc, respectively.

2.3. Grammar categories involved: open vs. closed classes.


So far, in order to confine these three notions to particular grammatical categories, we must review
first the difference between open and closed classes since the structure of the sentence involve both.
Yet, grammar categories in English can be divided into two major sets called open and closed

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classes. The open classes are verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs, and are said to be unrestricted
since they allow the addition of new members to their membership, whereas the closed classes are
the rest: prepositions, conjunctions, articles (definite and indefinite), numerals, pronouns,
quantifiers and interjections, which belong to a restricted class since they do not allow the creation
of new members. Yet, as we shall see, our three main concepts shall deal with both classes since
they will be represented by a wide range of grammatical categories (verbs, noun, adjectives,
adverbs, etc) and also by non-grammatical categories such as gestures!

3.

A GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE EXPRESSION OF ASSERTION, EMPHASIS


AND DISAGREEMENT.

Once we have set up these notions within a linguistic framework, we shall continue on offering the
reader a general introduction to the expression of assertion, emphasis and disagreement regarding
key concepts and theories which are closely related to them and which prove to be essential in our
analysis of all the three notions so as to get a relevant and overall view of the whole unit.
Thus, we shall start by revising some important concepts which are closely related to the description
of assertion, emphasis and disagreement: for instance, (1) their expression within verbal vs. nonverbal communication; (2) the relevance of the field of pragmatics within their study; and therefore
(3) an analysis of the Speech Act Theory following the main explorations of Austin (1975) and
Searle (1969) on reviewing (a) types of speech acts, (b) the notions of locutionary, illocutionary and
perlocutionary acts and (c) performative verbs as part of the illocutionary act; and finally, (4) the
relevant relationship between syntactic constructions and the illocutionary force. Once we have
reviewed all these points, we are ready to examine individually the expression of assertion,
emphasis and disagreement in the subsequent chapters .

3.1. Verbal vs. non-verbal communication.


When dealing with interaction and speech act, the dimension of communication is essential in terms
of how we understand each other. Often, this act of communication is related to speaking and

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writing but, for our purposes, we hightlight the importance of body movement and gestures in an
attempt at expanding the 'narrow conception of natural language pragmatics'. Up to this point, it is
relevant to establish the difference betwen verbal and non-verbal communication in order to show
how relevant are both in the interaction process.

The importance of non-verbal communication within the human interface proves highly significant
for natural language pragmatics and the design of interactive systems based upon them. Body
moves create what we call 'contact', defined as a space of engagement among people who can
move in a rhythm of bodily take-turn. Several studies (Streeck, 1993, McNeill et al. 1994) show that
gesture and speech are co-ordinated activities which play a vital role in enhancing speech
perception and production, and even suggesting that this relationship is essential for effective
communication.
The limitations of language pragmatics have consequences for the success of systems and their
effects on users, because natural language pragmatics cannot handle multi-modal human-computer
interfaces. Rhythmic body movements have been used for the learning of foreign languages
whereby the rhythmic intonational structure represents a facilitative condition for learning,
providing more humane grounds for cognition and human orientated technology.
We suggest the idea of a dialogue act being applied to body language. Specifically, where body
movements are occurring in response to each other, whether this is related to a verbal utterance or
independent of it. Such moves are distinguished from representational or iconic gestures of the
verbal utterance which serve primarily to illustrate it. Thus, in conversation, assertion may be
represented by nodding or lifting up your hand; emphasis would be shown by gestures with face and
hands; and disagreement may be represented by frowning or moving your head to both sides.
As we can see then, non-verbal communication can also convey information about the conversation
situation. Body moves comes under the category of cueing facts, as extra linguistic factors and
under cued information as they are also about conversation organisation. It is from this perspective
that body moves constitute a kind of information flow.

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3.2. The relevance of P ragmatics.

Pragmatics was defined by the philosopher J.L. Austin as the study of "how to do things with
words" or perhaps "how people do things with words" in descriptive terms. But how does
pragmatics deal with our three main notions? The field of pragmatics is based on the observation of
how people use language to accomplish certain kinds of acts, broadly known as speech acts, and
distinct from physical or mental acts like drinking a cup of coffee, thinking about holidays, etc.
Speech acts include asking for a cup of coffee, promising to book a holiday, threatening to cancel
the booking , ordering a room, and so on. However, as stated before, most of these should be called
"communicative acts", since speech and even language are not strictly required to speaking and
writing but also to pointing to a pitcher and miming the act of drinking.
But let us start by defining what a speech act is following the philosophers Austin (1962, 1975) and
Searle (1969, 1985) and then, let us examine the different types of speech acts and what a speech
act consists of, that is, the different types of speech acts in order to locate the expression of
assertion, emphasis and disagreement.

3.3. The Speech Act Theory.

The Speech Act Theory was inspired by the work of the British philosopher J.L. Austin whose
postumously published lectures How to do things with words (1975) influenced a number of
students of language including the philosopher John Searle (1969), who established speech act
theory as a major framework for the study of human communication. In contrast to the assumptions
of structuralism where langue is seen as a system over parole concerning the speech act, speech
act theory holds that the investigation of structure always presupposes something about meanings,
language use, and extralinguistic functions.
The theory of speech acts aims to do justice to the fact that even though words (and therefore,
phrases and sentences) encode information, people do more things with words than convey
information, and that when people do convey information, they often convey more than their words
encode. Although the focus of speech act theory has been on utterances, especially those made in

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conversational and other face-to-face situations, the phrase 'speech act' should be taken as a generic
term for any sort of language use, oral or otherwise.

3.3.1. Main types of speech acts.


Searle (1969) summarizes Austins speech acts into five main categories: representatives,
directives, commissives, expressives, and declarations. Thus,
(1) firstly, representatives (also assertives) refer to some state of affairs by means of assertions,
claims and descriptions, that is, to tell people how things are by stating;
(2) secondly, directives, which are speech acts whose intention is to get the addressee to carry
out some action by means of commands, requests, dares or entreaties;
(3) thirdly, commissives, which are speech acts that commit the speaker to some future course
of action by means of promises, threats and vows;
(4) fourthly, expressives, which are speech acts that indicate the speaker's psychological state
or mental attitude by means of greeting, congratulating, thanking or apologising in order to
express the speaker's feelings and attitudes by thinking, forgiving, or blaming;
(5) and finally, declaratives, which are speech acts that themselves bring about a state of affairs
by means of marrying, naming, blessing or arresting. For instance, they bring about changes
through our utterances by means of bringing about correspondence between the
propositional content and reality, through baptizing, naming, appointing or sacking.
Although these speech acts are abstract notions and do not necessarily or uniquely correspond to
particular English verbs, Searle (like Austin before him) lists a number of English verbs as
examples of the different types of speech acts . In examining what people say to one another, we
can use Searle's classification in trying to understand what people are doing with language. In a
speech act we may find greetings, questions or requests for information, assertions or responses and
assessments. Hence, assertions are to be found within representatives whereas emphasis and
disagreement are to be found in the expressive type.

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3.3.2. Locutionary, illocutionary, perlocutionary acts.

The British philosopher Austin (1962) and the American Searle (1969) conceptualized speech acts
as comprising three components. First, the locutionary act (the act of saying something), which is
the actual form of an utterance; second, the illocutionary act, which is the communicative force of
the utterance; and third, the perlocutionary act, which is depicted as the communicative effect of the
utterance upon the feelings, thoughts, or actions of the audience, of the speaker, or of other persons.
In other words, a locutionary act has meaning; it produces an understandable utterance. An
illocutionary act has force; it is informed with a certain tone, attitude, feeling, motive, or intention,
and a perlocutionary act has consequence; it has an effect upon the addressee.
Let us suppose, for example, that a spokeman utters the words, 'The meeting will start in five
minutes,' reported by means of direct quotation. He is thereby performing the locutionary act of
saying that the meeting (i.e., the one he is tending) will start in five minutes (from the time of
utterance), and what is said is reported by indirect quotation (notice that what the spokeman is
saying, the conte nt of his locutionary act, is not fully determined by the words he is using, for they
do not specify the meeting in question or the time of the utterance). In saying this, the spokeman is
performing the illocutionary act of informing the participants of the meetings imminent start and
perhaps also the act of urging them to order a last drink. Whereas the aim of these illocutionary acts
is understanding on the part of the audience, perlocutionary acts are performed with the intention of
producing a further effect, for instance, getting one's audience to believe that one actually possesses
the attitude one is expressing is not an illocutionary but a perlocutionary act. Therefore, the
spokeman is performing all these speech acts, at all three levels, just by uttering certain words.

3.3.3. Illocutionary acts: performative verbs.


In How to Do Things with Words, Austin (1962) starts by enunciating a distinction between
constative and performative utterances. According to him, an utterance, which originally is a spoken
word or string of spoken words with no particular forethought or intention to communicate a
meaning, becomes constative if it describes some state of affairs whose correspondence with the
facts is either true or false. Performatives, on the other hand, do not describe, report or constate
anything as true or false. It is worth mentioning here that the attitude of the person performing the
linguistic act, his thoughts, feelings, or intentions is of great relevance at this distinction.

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But let us concentrate on the illocutionary acts and possible performative verbs for our purposes. It
has been claimed that statements, requests, promises and apologies are examples of the four major
categories of communicative illocutionary acts: constatives, directives, commissives and
acknowledgments, respectively, where each type of illocutionary act is individuated by the type of
attitude expressed. There is no generally accepted terminology here but the borrowed terms
'constative' and 'commissive' from Austin and 'directive' from Searle. The term 'acknowledgment'
has been adopted over Austin's 'behabitive' and Searle's 'expressive', for apologies, greetings,
congratulations etc., which express an attitude regarding the hearer that is occasioned by some event
that is thereby being acknowledged, often in satisfaction of a social expectation.
Here we are some assorted examples of each type: (1) Constatives: affirming, alleging, announcing,
answering, attributing, claiming, classifying, concurring, confirming, conjecturing, denying,
disagreeing, disclosing, disputing, identifying, informing, insisting, predicting, ranking, reporting,
stating, stipulating; (2) directives: advising, admonishing, asking, begging, dismissing, excusing,
forbidding, instructing, ordering, permitting, requesting, requiring, suggesting, urging, warning; (3)
commissives: agreeing, guaranteeing, inviting, offering, promising, swearing, volunteering; (4)
acknowledgments:

apologizing,

condoling,

congratulating,

greeting,

thanking,

accepting

(acknowledging an acknowledgment).

3.4. Syntactic constructions and the illocutionary force.

It is worth remembering that in terms of their structural complexity sentences can be divided into
three types: simple, complex and compound. For our purposes this analysis w ill deal with the main
types of sentence structures based on their grammatical form (syntactic constructions) and their
function in communication (the illocutionary force) that is, from their syntactic structures and their
association with one particular function in speech acts.

Therefore, concerning the sentence grammatical form, the classification comprises four types:
declarative sentences, interrogative sentences, imperative sentences and exclamatory sentences
whereas the classification concerning their function in communication shows that declarative
sentences are chiefly used to make statements, interrogative sentences to ask questions, imperative

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sentences to give commands and exclamatory sentences to make exclamations, depending on the
way speakers express their attitude through phonological, syntactic and semantic cues.

Within this classification, the first four types are named under the grammatical category of
adjectives: declarative, interrogative, imperative and exclamatory sentences whereas the
communicative functions are named under the grammatical category of nouns (i.e. statement,
question, command and exclamation, respectively). Yet, the grammatical form of sentences shall
establish the main morphological and syntactic features under the scope of simple sentences, whose
use correlates with different communicative functions (expressing assertion, emphasis and
disagreement).

It must be borne in mind that there is no one-to-one correspondence between the grammatical form
of a sentence and its function in communication. This means that sentences with the same
grammatical properties need not have the same illocutionary force and, conversely, that
grammatically different sentences can have the same illocutionary force. Thus, the following
request to have a pizza can be expressed in a variety of ways: Lets have a pizza, Shall we have a
pizza?; Why dont we have a pizza?; Would you like to have a pizza?

4. THE EXPRESSION OF ASSERTION.

The expression of assertion will be namely approached by (1) defining the term assertion in
opposition to the one of non-assertion; (2) the difference between the linguistic vs. non-linguistic
means of asserting; (3) within the linguistic means, we shall examine the main ways of expressing
assertion through (a) major syntactic constructions and (b) main grammatical categories, by
making comments on their structural features, that is, morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics
and pragmatics.

4.1. Definition: assertion vs. non-asssertion .

In order to define the notion of assertion, we shall follow J. L. Austin who complains at the
beginning of his book How to Do Things with Words (1975), that the business of a [sentence] can

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only be to describe some state of affairs, or to state some fact, which it must do either truly or
falsely. Similarly, the notion of assertion has been defined as a matter of stating with conviction
of emphasis (Wilkins, 1976) or as assertive sentences which are included in the major category of
statements (Quirk et al., 1975).
Traditionally, the term assertion has always been defined in opposition to the term nonassertion with respect to certain types of sentences (as seen above) in terms of their grammatical
form (syntactic constructions) and their function in communication (the illocutionary force), that is,
in terms of the relationship between their syntactic structures and their association with one
particular function in speech acts. Accordingly, there will be certain grammatical items which will
be syntactically related to them according to their function in the sentence. Hence we get assertive
vs. non-assertive items such as the partitives some vs. any; the particles neither vs. either; the
indefinite pronouns someone vs. anyone and so on.
Austin reminds us that we perform all sorts of 'speech acts' besides making statements, and that
there are other ways for them to go wrong, that is, what he called explicit performative utterances
by means of explicit performative verbs (i.e. I nominate, You're dismissed, The assistant was
fired and so on to perform acts of the very sort named by the verb, such as nominating, dismissing
or firing).
Hence, the notion of assertion is related, grammatically speaking (in terms of grammatical
categories and syntax) to the no tions of positive and declarative sentences, but with respect to
their function in communication (their illocutionary force) it is chiefly used to make statements,
by means of performative verbs (also called constatives), such as: affirming, alleging, announcing,
answering, attributing, claiming, classifying, concurring, confirming, conjecturing, denying,
disagreeing, disclosing, disputing, identifying, informing, insisting, predicting, ranking, reporting,
stating, stipulating.
On the contrary, the notion of non-assertion is related, grammatically speaking (in terms of
grammatical categories and syntax) to the notions of (negative) statements and interrogative
sentences, but with respect to their function in communication (their illocutionary force) it is chiefly
used to make negative statements, by means of constative verbs again (i.e. denying, disagreeing,
disclosing, disputing, identifying, informing, insisting, predicting, ranking, reporting, stating,
stipulating (negatively)) and directive verbs (i.e. asking, begging, dismissing, excusing, ordering,
permitting, requesting, requiring, suggesting, urging, warning).

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4.2. Linguistic vs. non-linguistic means.


It is quite relevant to bear in mind that we may approach the notions of assertion or nonassertion both in linguistic and non-linguistic terms, that is, through linguistic constructions (oral
and written grammatical constructions ) and also in terms of non-linguistic ways of asserting/nonasserting, such as body movements (i.e. nodding, vs. moving your head to both side; smile vs.
frown; an assertive look vs. an enquiring look); physical contact (i.e. hand-shaking, kissing,
touching, etc as a signal of assertion vs. pushing someone away, spitting, shrugging your shoulders
as a signal of non-assertion); and significant roles of gestures and mimes (i.e. your hand closed with
thumbs up or down; eyes wide open).

Following van Ek & Trim (2001), we come across the notion of politeness conventions which is
closely related to linguistic and non-linguistic paradigms. Based on some universal considerations,
these conventions go beyond the simple and direct way of using the foreign language in conversing
with people who share the same mother tongue and social background as the speaker. Yet, it is
possible for the foreign learner (who is unaware of the conventions of the foreign country) to be
misinterpreted and give unintentional offence to partners who are themselves unaware that the
conventions they follow are not shared by the whole world. For instance, many foreigners try to
compensate in this respect by smiling, making eye contact and generally showing goodwill through
body language.

Unfortunately, according to van Ek & Trim, the conventions of body language also vary
considerably from one culture to another and smiles and eye contact can be misunderstood as
intrusive in one and their absence misunderstood as rejection in another. It is therefore increasingly
important for learners, particularly as their linguistic and pragmatic command of a language
improves and arouses higher expectations in their interlocutors, to be aware of the main features of
politeness in speech so as to recognise them in the speech of others and respond appropriately.
They add that the twin principles of concern and respect for the partner lead to two kinds of
politeness: positive and negative. Positive politeness is shown by expressing interest in partners
interests, activities, opinions, beliefs, etc., congratulating, praising , etc but also sympathising with
their troubles. This may go together with physical closeness and contact, prolonged eye contact and
sharing of emotional signals.

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On the contrary, positive politeness constrasts with negative politeness in which the speaker tries
to avoid embarrassment, distress or displeasure by showing an awareness of the demands made on
the partner. This implies imparting factual information and expressing attitudes by qualifying
simple declarative sentences which, for our purposes, will be examined in the following section
under the heading of linguistic means: main structural features.

4.3. Linguistic means of expressing assertion.

We shall carry out the analysis of the main linguistic means of expressing assertion in terms of
functional and grammatical approach, that is, we shall approach this issue by reviewing, first, major
syntactic constructions (functioning at sentence level) and second, those grammatical categories
(working at word/phrase level), such as assertive vs. non-assertive items.

4.3.1. Main syntactic constructions.


The main syntactic constructions in order to express assertion or non-assertion are related to the
structure of the simple sentence, being declarative (positive or negative statement) or interrogative
(questions). Therefore, we may find (1) positive statements realized by constative verbs; (2)
negative statements realized by constative verbs; (3) statements realized by question form; (4)
statements realized by the combination of questions and question-tags; (5) statements realized by
the form of rethorical questions; (6) statements realized by exclamatory form; and (7) statements
realized by negative form.

(1) Positive statements by means of simple declarative sentences may be classified by groups
of functional categories, for instance:

Imparting and seeking information, by means of (a) stating and reporting (i.e. My
sister has left); (b) identifying things/people/role (i.e. This is my house/father/job);
(c) the use of think, believe, expect, etc as introducers or as tags. If they are
unstressed, their use does not indicate uncertainty or lack of confidence (i.e. I think
his mother is French. She comes from Paris, I believe).

Moreover, we find the use of you know, of course, to imply that the partner is not
ignorant (i.e. Of course, his mother is French, you know).

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To express degrees of certainty in confident and tentative assertion. Thus, confident


assertion in (a) declarative sentences by means of adverbs certainly, definitely,
beyond any doubt, etc (i.e. She is certainly pregnant); (b) complement + clause
(i.e. I am quite sure that he died); (c) declarative sentences with stressed do, be or
auxiliary (i.e. I most certainly did post the letter); or tentative assertion by means
of (a) noun phrases + to seem/appear/look + (to be) (i.e. The essay seems to be
brilliant); (b) it looks as if/as though + statement (i.e. It looks as if she is coming);
(c) declarative sentence + I think, with low rising intonation (i.e. Hes French, I
think).

To correct a positive or a negative statement by means of short answers. For


instance, in a sentence like She is in Italy, the short answer would be No + tag,
with falling-rising intonation (i.e. No, it isnt) whereas when correcting a negative
statement in a sentence like We didnt go to York, the answer would be Yes +
tag with falling-rising intonation (i.e. Yes, you did).

(2) We may also express negative statements by means of non-assertive declarative sentences,
for instance:

By denying positive statements (i.e. You have passed your driving test. I cant
believe it/Thats quite untrue), using the structure No + negative tag (i.e. No, I
wasnt) or by stating simple negative statements (i.e. I didnt drive fast).

When implying correction by telling the partner that a mistake has been made.
Offence can be avoided by apologising for (a) correcting (i.e. Im sorry, but the
party isnt tonight. Its on Saturday); (b) presenting the correction as a different
opinion (i.e. Forty-one? I thought he was thirty).

When expressing reluctance (i.e. I dont want to complain but I have to do it) or
seeking the partners understanding (i.e. I hope you dont mind my saying so, but
you must leave now).

When apologising or expressing regret (i.e. Im sorry, but your work is not good
enough). This is especially frequent with prohibitions and withholding permission
(i.e. Im sorry, but you cant go out tonight).

In addition, we use this type to assert ignorance (i.e. Ive no idea; I havent a clue; I
dont know); to express remembering or forgetting persons, things, facts and
actions (i.e. I cant remember; I forgot why I came here).

When denying the ability to do something (i.e. I cant speak Spanish fluently).

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(3) Positive statements may also appear under the form of questions when demanding
confirmation or denial and the meaning will be conveyed by intonation. For instance,

A sentence like You saw him then? with rising intonation is functioning as a
question. If the sentence has an assertive structure, we expect a positive answer; on
the contrary, if the sentence has a non-asssertive structure, we shall expect a
negative answer You didnt see him then?.

(4) In addition, we may find the combination of questions + questions tags. Then, if we expect
positive confirmation, we shall make a positive statement (with falling intonation) + a
negative tag (with rising intonation) (i.e. You talked to him, didnt you?) whereas if we
expect a negative answer, we shall make a negative statement (with falling intonation) + a
positive tag (with rising intonation) (i.e. You didnt see him, did you?).
(5) We may also find statements realized by the form of rethorical questions, that is, they are
interrogative in structure but function as strong assertions (i.e. Isnt it sad enough to
cry?/Are you sure I have no reasons to be upset?). As we can observe, the negative
rethorical question functions as a strong positive assertion whereas the second, a positive
rethorical question, functions as a strong negative assertion. It is worth noting they expect
no answers; thats why they are called rethorical.
(6) Moreover, we can find statements realized by exclamatory form, that is, they belong to the
exclamatory type with interrogative form since their elements are inverted. They have the
yes/no question structure with a final falling tone which asks for confirmation on the part of
the listener about the speakers comment. Note that they are usually conveyed with a
positive sense (i.e. Isnt she beautiful!/Wasnt it an exciting evening!).

4.3.2. Main grammatical categories.

Regarding the main grammatical categories that may express assertion, we must address certain
assertive and non-assertive items which are to be drawn from a wide variety of grammatical
categories. For instance:

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(1) From the open classes, we find verbs (performative and constative verbs) which may be
assertive (i.e. affirm, claim, state, agree, answer, confirm, inform, report, etc) or nonassertive (i.e. deny, disagree, disclose, refuse, etc); nouns derived from the previous verbs
(i.e. affirmation vs. negation, acceptance vs. refusal; agreement vs. disagreement, etc);
adjectives (i.e. affirmative vs. negative, accepted vs. refused, full vs. empty, allowed vs.
prohibited, etc) and adverbs (i.e. already vs. yet, always vs. never, often vs. hardly ever,
sometimes vs. ever, certainly vs. uncertainly, etc).
(2) From the closed classes, we may mention prepositions with a certain assertive and nonassertive meaning (i.e. in vs. out, on vs. off, with vs. without, etc); conjunctions (i.e. or vs.
nor; and (addition) vs. but (opposition), moreover vs. however, etc); indefinite articles (i.e.
some vs. any); indefinite pronouns (i.e. somebody vs. nobody, something vs. nothing, etc);
non-count pronouns (i.e. all vs. none, each vs. neither); quantifiers (i.e. many vs. a few, a
little vs. none); and numerals (i.e. zero vs. one).
(3) Within idiomatic expressions, we may mention the opposites (assertive vs. non-assertive
respectively) forever and ever vs. any longer; Would you like some coffee? (where the
use of the assertive some within a non-assertive context means we expect a positive
answer); of course vs. by no means; whatever vs. at all; We didnt see a soul ; etc.

5. THE EXPRESSION OF EMPHASIS.

The expression of emphasis will be namely approached by (1) defining the term emphasis; (2) the
difference between the linguistic vs. non-linguistic means of emphasizing; (3) within the linguistic
means, we shall examine the main ways of expressing emphasis through (a) major syntactic
constructions and (b) main grammatical categories, by making comments on their structural
features, that is, morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics.

5.1. Definition: the notion of emphasis.

The term emphasis is defined as the force or stress laid on a word or words to make the
significance clear, or to show the importance or special value of something (people, things, actions,

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statements). The notion of emphasis is to be found within the classification of the expressive
function by means of which speech acts indicate the speaker's psychological state or mental attitude
by means of exclaiming, greeting or congratulating in order to express the speaker's feelings and
attitudes by emphasizing relevant information through oral and/or written devices.
When we make a statement with conviction of emphasis, we are highlighting a piece of information
in our speech to give it a special prominence or a special value, so the notion is related then,
grammatically speaking (in terms of grammatical categories and syntax) to the notions of
declarative sentences, imperative sentences and exclamatory sentences. However, with respect to
their function in communication (their illocutionary force) it is chiefly realized by statements,
commands and exclamations depending on the way speakers express their attitude through
phonological, syntactic and semantic cues.
It must be borne in mind again that there is no one-to-one correspondence between the grammatical
form of a sentence and its function in communication. This means that sentences with the same
grammatical properties need not have the same illocutionary force and, conversely, that
grammatically different sentences can have the same illocutionary force. Thus, the following
statement may convey different meaning depending on where the stress is placed, for instance,
Cristine gave me a new CD yesterday (i.e. It was Cristine, and not Betty; she gave it to me and not
borrowed; it was to me and not to you; it was a new CD and not old, and so on).

5.2. Linguistic vs. non-linguistic means.


It is quite relevant to bear in mind again that we may approach the notions of emphasis both in
linguistic and non-linguistic terms, that is, through linguistic constructions (oral and written
grammatical constructions) and also in terms of non-linguistic ways, such as body movements (i.e.
jumping, clapping, pointing with your finger, etc); physical contact (i.e. hugging, holding someone
in your arms tightly, kissing repeatedly, etc); and significant roles of gestures and mimes (i.e.
victory signal, mouth wide open, non-stop smiling, etc).

5.3. Linguistic means of expressing assertion.


We shall carry out the analysis of the main linguistic means of expressing emphasis in terms of
functional and grammatical approach, that is, we shall approach this issue by reviewing, first, major

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syntactic constructions (functioning at sentence level) on the basis of declarative sentences and
second, those grammatical categories involved in its description (working at word/phrase level).

5.3.1. Main syntactic constructions.


The main syntactic constructions in order to express emphasis may be given in oral and written
contexts. Therefore, we may find (1) emphasis within the oral context regarding main changes in
pronunciation; (2) emphasis within the written context; (3) parenthetic expressions; (4)
interjections; (5) emphasis through word order; (6) through repetition; (7) through reinforcement
tags; (8) statements realized by the form of rethorical questions; (9) exclamatory specific structures;
and finally, (10) swear words as idiomatic expressions.
(1) Emphasis may be realized in speech in declarative sentences by means of:

end-focus, which means that the last open-class item in the sentence is often the
most prominent (i.e. Robert is living in LONDON). However, if the context
requires this, it is possible to depart from the normal pattern by shifting the focus to
other words. This is called contrastive focus, for instance, Robert is LIVING in
London (not working/driving/having lunch), ROBERT is living in London (not
Jack/Philip/Charles) and so on (Aarts, 1988).

Stress, rhythm, tone and intonation in declarative sentences (i.e. His mother is a
doctor). Those words to be highlighted because of their relevance in content are to
be stressed and therefore, pronounced louder than normal.

Note that vowels may become longer and will be pronounced after a pause,
especially primary auxiliary and modal auxiliary verbs. In this case, those words
which usually have weak pronounciation in the speech chain (schwa reduction) will
be pronounced in their strong forms.

Moreover, we shall use strong stress (i.e. This man is dangerous); high falling
nucleus on the prominent word (i.e. Its really great); fall-rise intonation in
subordinate groups (i.e. Studying is ok. Exams are hell).

(2) In written contexts, emphasis is realized by:

punctuation marks, such as full points, colon, semicolon, dash, commas,


parentheses (also brackets), quotation marks, question marks, exclamation marks,
hyphen, apostrophe and abbreviations.

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Moreover, we can use emphasis in printed or word-processed texts by the use of


special devices such as italics, use of bolding, use of capitals, underlining, special
fonts, colours, etc.

(3) Closely related to punctuation are parenthetic expressions, which are marked by intonation
in speech and punctuation in writing. Their function in the sentence is to highlight the
previous or following sentence element. For instance, Leave me alone, he said.
(4) Similarly, interjections are separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma (in writing)
and a pause (in speech), for instance, Oh, so thats what he wanted , Oh, no! I cant
believe it!.
(5) As we can see, sentences can express emphasis in a variety of ways. Another option is to
highlight important information through word order in the sentence. For instance, word
order involves a change in the linear order in which the words normally appear, that is,

certain parts of the sentence are given emphasis by moving them to front-position.
Compare: He lost his watch at the beach/His watch he lost at the beach/At the
beach he lost his watch.

Other parts undergo inversion, that is, part of the sentence (or phrase structure) is
moved before the subject. We may find two types: subject verb inversion (i.e. Here
are your books!; Off we go) in which inversion will not take place if the subject is a
personal pronoun (i.e. Here he is! And not Here is he); the other type is subject
operator inversion, which is almost compulsory in most questions (i.e. Is he at
home? Are you going to have dinner at Queens tonight?), certain grammatical
structures (i.e. Hardly had I finish writing the letter he left; Seldom have I felt
worse) and specific idiomatic expressions (i.e. Not a word did he say; under no
circumstances must you leave, etc).

By means of cleft sentences and pseudo-clef sentences. The formes are a


construction which makes it possible to put special emphasis on a particular
constituent. This is done by cleaving the sentence into two parts in such a way
that the resulting sentence is of the pattern: It + be + emphasized constituent +
who/that ... (i.e. It was this e-mail that Peter sent last week). The emphasized
constituents may function as subject, direct object and adverbials. Other
constituents such as indirect object, object attribute and predicator are less
frequently emphasized in this way, but we do find sentences like: It was John I
lent my camera to; This was the lecture that Peter did in Beirut, etc. Note that in

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certain contexts it is possible to leave out the that-clause (i.e. It was because he was
abroad; Its just that he is a fool).
On the other hand, pseudo-cleft sentences, like cleft sentences, are used to give
special emphasis to a particular part of the sentence, and can be described as
subject-predicator-subject attribute sentences, in which the subject is realized by a
what-clause, the predicator by a form of be and the subject attribute by a noun
phrase, an infinitive or an ing participle (i.e. What killed him was alcohol/What
they are doing is spoiling their children) (Aarts, 1988). This type of sentence can
be in initial or middle position (i.e. I didnt know what to do).
(6) Also, we can use the device of repetition (also reinforcement, reiteration), which is a
stylistic device mainly used in colloquial speech which, for purposes of emphasis, repeats
some sentence elements for the sake of emphasis, focus or thematic arrangement (i.e. You
look much, much younger than ten years ago! You bad, bad girl!).
(7) On the other hand, we can also use reinforcement tags, which are placed in initial or final
position in the sentence in order to reinforce the idea presented in the main sentence (i.e.
Shes a generous woman, she is; Getting late, he is; Hates the alarm clock, Peter does).
(8) Another device is that of rethorical questions. Similarly to the expression of emphasis,
these statements are realized by an exclamatory structure but have interrogative form since
their elements are inverted. They have the yes/no question structure with a final emphatic
falling tone which asks for confirmation on the part of the listener about the speakers
comment. Note that they are usually conveyed with a positive sense (i.e. Isnt she
beautiful!/Wasnt it an exciting evening!). Note that when they are stated in the positive
form (i.e. Has she said her first words! / Am I stupid!) they are pronounced with stress on
the operator and subject.
(9) By means of exclamatory specific structures, where the subject precedes the verb such as.
They are introduced by phrases opening with the words how + adjective/adverb/statement
(i.e. How beautiful she is!/ How fast you drive!/How I used to like chocolate!) or what +
a(n) + (adjective) + noun/noun phrase (i.e. What a wonderful day!/What a wonderful day
we have had today!). The syntactic order is therefore changed to the extent that the whitem (who or what) may be taken from its usual position (i.e. statements) to initial
prominence to express emphasis. Another structure is such/so + (adjective) + noun (i.e. He
is such a good student!; they are so nice to me!).

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These expressions are quite common in everyday usage and we can find them in many
different patterns, both formal and informal ones. For instance, the formal ones, How
quickly you run! or What a nice time we had today!, when pronounced with falling
intonation, they may convey the meaning of boredom, unconcerned, or even sarcastic (i.e.
How annoying the film is!). Often used in ordinary colloquial speech, they may convey the
meaning of strong surprise or indignation (i.e. What a surprise!).
(10) On the other hand, informal ways of exclamations in colloquial speech are swear words,
which are considered to be idiomatic expressions, for instance, Really!; Damn!; Bloody dog!;
Oh, my God!; Good heavens!; Shit!; and so on.

5.3.2. Main grammatical categories.

Regarding the main grammatical categories that may express emphasis, we must address certain
emphatic items which are to be drawn from a wide variety of grammatical categories. For instance:
(1) From the open classes, we find

verbs (performative and constative verbs) which convey the meaning of emphasize
an action as in a gradual scale (i.e. like, love, fancy, to be crazy for, go wild).
Other verbs are of the type of underline, highlight, emphasize, point out, etc;
within this type, we may mention the relevant role of modal auxiliary and primary
auxliary verbs on the expression of emphasis. For instance, modal auxiliary verbs
give more emotional force to the whole sentence when stressed and pronounced
with strong pronunciation since they convey the meaning of contrast, that is,
probability vs. certainty, present vs. future, necessity vs. obligation, etc (i.e.
might vs. must; is vs. was vs. will be; need vs. must, etc); note that the position of
some adverbs (certainly, really, etc) is different from normal placing. Compare
You have certainly taken the right decision (normal) vs. You certainly have taken
the right decision (emphatic);
On the other hand, the primary verb do has a very important role in sentences
which have no modal auxiliary verbs. For instance, it may convey the meaning of
emotion (i.e. You did look gorgeous last night); persuasion (i.e. Do be quiet!);

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contrast (i.e. Why didnt you tell me?- I did tell you, dont you remember?); and
an expected result (i.e. Finally, the player scored the decisive goal).

Also nouns derived from the previous verbs (i.e. underlining, highlighting,
emphasis, etc) play an important role when emphasizing;

adjectives (i.e. underlined, emphasized, pointed out, etc) may also have an
emphasizing function when referring to extreme adjectives, for instance, compare
excited vs. thrilled, little vs. tiny, big vs. huge, afraid vs. frightened, etc.

adverbs (i.e. certainly, really, definitely, etc) can take a special position in the
sentence before the verb, since it is the first part of the verb (modal or primary
auxiliary) which carries the stress (i.e. I really do like terror films).

(2) From the closed classes, we may mention prepositions with a certain emphatic meaning
(i.e. onto, inside, outside, etc); conjunctions (i.e. moreover, furthermore, in addition, on top
of that, and even, etc); emphatic reflexive pronouns (i.e. myself, yourself, himself, herself,
etc) as in She fixed the alarm clock by herself; quantifiers (i.e. very, quite, rather, a few,
many, a little, really, such a + (adjective) + noun, so, so much/many, too much/many, etc).
(3) Within idiomatic expressions (all over the world; he is such a good swimmer!, etc),
including swear words (i.e. I cant record the bloody song!, I damn well hope it stops
raining!, etc).

6. THE EXPRESSION OF DISAGREEMENT.

The expression of disagreement will be namely approached by (1) defining the term
disagreement in opposition to that of agreement; (2) the difference between the linguistic vs.
non-linguistic means of disagreeing; (3) within the linguistic means, we shall examine the main
ways of expressing disagreement through (a) major syntactic constructions and (b) main
grammatical categories, by making comments on their structural features, that is, morphology,
phonology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics.

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6.1. Definition: agreement vs. disagreement.


The term disagreement is defined as the way of expressing a different view or different opinions
in a speech act. Traditionally, the term disagreement has always been defined in opposition to
the term agreement with respect to certain types of sentences in terms of their grammatical form
(syntactic constructions) and their function in communication (the illocutionary force), that is, in
terms of the relationship between their syntactic structures and their association with one particular
function in speech acts.
The notion of disagreement is to be found within the classification of the expressive function by
means of which speech acts indicate the speaker's psychological state or mental attitude by means
of disagreeing in order to express the speaker's feelings and attitudes towards other opinions or
views through oral and/or written devices. Hence we get items which show disagreement. such as
verbs (disagree, refuse other views, etc), expressions such as Im sorry but..., and so on.
When we make a statement with absence of agreement, we relate it grammatically speaking (in
terms of grammatical categories and syntax) to the notions of declarative sentences, imperative
sentences and exclamatory sentences. However, with respect to their function in communication
(their illocutionary force) it is chiefly realized by statements, commands and exclamations
depending on the way speakers express their attitude through phonological, syntactic and semantic
cues.
Once more it must be borne in mind that there is no one-to-one correspondence between the
grammatical form of a sentence and its function in communication. This means that sentences with
the same grammatical properties need not have the same illocutionary force and, conversely, that
grammatically different sentences can have the same illocutionary force. Thus, the following
statement may convey the same meaning I dont think so and Rubbish!.
Hence, the notion of disagreement is related, grammatically speaking (in terms of grammatical
categories and syntax) to the notions of positive and declarative sentences, but with respect to
their function in communication (their illocutionary force) it is chiefly used to make statements,
by means of performative verbs (also called constatives), such as: alleging, conjecturing, denying,
disagreeing, stipulating, and so on. Similarly, the expression of agreement by means of the verbs
agreeing, supporting, providing, etc.

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6.2. Linguistic vs. non-linguistic means.


We may approach the notions of disagreement or agreement both in linguistic and nonlinguistic terms, that is, through linguistic constructions (oral and written grammatical
constructions) and also in terms of non-linguistic ways of asserting/non-asserting, such as body
movements (i.e. (agreement) nodding, smile, an assertive look vs. (disagreement) moving your head
to both side , frown, an angry look); physical contact (i.e. hand-shaking, kissing, touching, showing
the palm of your hand, etc) and significant roles of gestures and mimes (i.e. your hand closed with
thumbs up or down; not looking straight into someones eyes).

As stated in the previous section, the notions of politeness conventions are closely related to
linguistic and non-linguistic paradigms regarding disagreement. Based on some universal
considerations, it is possible for the foreign learner to give unintentional offence to partners who are
themselves unaware that the conventions they follow are not shared by the whole world. For
instance, many foreigners try to compensate in this respect by smiling, making eye contact and
generally showing goodwill through body language.
Unfortunately, according to van Ek & Trim, the conventions of body language also vary
considerably from one culture to another and smiles and eye contact can be misunderstood as
intrusive in one and their absence misunderstood as rejection in another. It is therefore increasingly
important for learners, particularly as their linguistic and pragmatic command of a language
improves and arouses higher expectations in their interlocutors, to be aware of the main features of
politeness in speech so as to recognise them in the speech of others and respond appropriately.
6.3. Linguistic means of expressing disagreeement.

We shall carry out the analysis of the main linguistic means of expressing disagreement in terms
of functional and grammatical approach, that is, we shall approach this issue by reviewing, first,
major syntactic constructions (functioning at sentence level) on the basis of declarative sentences
and second, those grammatical categories involved in its description (working at word/phrase level).
6.3.1. Main syntactic constructions.
The main syntactic constructions in order to express disagreement may be given in oral and written
contexts. People usually avoid expressing disagreement bluntly so they try to soften the expressions

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so as not to express strong contradictory points of view. Traditionally, there is a three-fold


classification into simple disagreement, tactful disagreement and strong disagreement. We shall
follow for our purposes van Ek & Trims classification (2001) where we shall examine (1)
disagreement by means of statements regarding main changes in pronunciation; (2) weak
disagreement (tactful); and (3) strong disagreement by means of idiomatic expressions and swear
words .
(1) The expression of disagreement may be realized when we try to avoid blunt disagreement,
for instance,

in positive statements such as I dont agree with you; Thats not right; Youre
wrong about that; Im afraid you are not right and so on. As we can see they are
polite expressions.

in negative statements, observe: Tomorrow isnt Wednesday (Oh) yes, it is or


I think + positive statement (I think its Wednesday tomorrow) with contrastive
stress.

by short answers, such as No, it isnt; Not so; Certainly not; I dont think so and
so on.

We may also enquiry about disagreement (or agreement) by means of questions


(i.e. Do you agree; What do you think?; statement + question tag with rising
intonation: She is French, isnt she?).

Another option is to invite disgreement with a statement by using the construction:


Surely you dont think + that clause (i.e. Surely you dont think its cold?).

(2) We can also convey the meaning of weak or tacful disagreement by using gentle
grammatical constructions which stand for apologies or adjustments to the speakers point
of view, for instance,

by introducing the conjunction but, as in the sentences English is said to be a


difficult language to learn but I think thats not true, Thats true, but
pronunciation is easier, Do you think so? Actually, I find it quite difficult.

When disagreement is explicit, we express it in gent le terms (i.e. Im not sure; I


wonder if you...; I beg to differ; I cant agree; Id rather disagree with you, I am
against war, etc);

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sometimes we must infer the meaning as the expressions is too polite (i.e. I must
say I am not sure your saying is true; I think rather different; If you dont mind me
telling you, there are some mistakes in your essay).

(3) Finally, when expressing strong disagreement we must be careful not to offend someone:

by uttering a straightforward answer with falling intonation (Thats quite late No,
it isn t; Im sorry but you have failed your exam; I cant stand your perfume ).

by including more formal expressions (i.e. I cant go along with that; I would take
issue with that; I wholly and fully disagree, etc).

by including the structure with respect... in colloquial speech to make our


disagreeement more polite (i.e. With respect, you should be studying; We should
ask him now, shouldnt we?).

by expressing strong disagreement with idiomatic expressions and swear words (i.e.
Absolute nonsense!; Rubbish!; I couldnt agree less; No way!; How can you say
that/such a thing!; Come off it!; Thats ridiculous!, etc).

6.3.2. Main grammatical categories.


Regarding the main grammatical categories that may express emphasis, we must address certain
emphatic items which are to be drawn from a wide variety of grammatical categories. For instance:

(1) From the open classes, we find


verbs (performative and constative verbs) which convey the meaning of
contradicting an opinion (i.e. disagree, differ, deny, stipulate, etc).

Also nouns derived from the previous verbs (i.e. disagreement, difference, denial,
etc) play an important role;

adjectives (i.e. different (point of view), separate (views), distant, etc);

adverbs (i.e. actually, wholly, fully , etc) can take a special position in the sentence
before the verb either at the beginning (i.e. Actually, I think...) or in the middle (i.e.
I wholy and fully disagree).

(2) From the closed classes, we may mention prepositions with a certain emphatic meaning
(i.e. Come off it, go along with, etc); conjunctions (i.e. but); and quantifiers (i.e. rather,
really, such a + (adjective) + noun, etc).

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(3) Within idiomatic expressions (i.e. Dont talk rubbish!, Come off it; Nonsense!, etc),
including swear words (i.e. Rubbish!, Fuck you!, etc).

7. EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS.
The various aspects of the expression of assertion, emphasis and disagreement dealt with in this
study is relevant to the learning of the vocabulary of a foreign language since differences between
the vocabulary of the learner's native language (L1) and that of the foreign language (L2) may lead
to several problems, such as the incorrect use of grammatical or idiomatic expressions, especially
because of the syntactic, morphological, and semantic processes implied in these categories.
This study has looked at the expression of assertion, emphasis and disagreement within lexical
semantics, morphology and syntax in order to establish a relative similarity between the two
languages that Spanish-speaking stu dents would find it useful for learning English if these
connections were brought to their attention, especially when different categories may be overlapped
(assertion, emphasis and disagreement through statements).
It has been suggested that a methodology grounded in part in the application of explicit linguistic
knowledge enhances the second language learning process. In the Spanish curriculum (B.O.E.
2002), the expression of assertion, emphasis and disagreement is envisaged from earlier stages of
ESO in terms of stating their opinions about hobbies, people, things (asserting, emphasizing or
disagreeing) up to higher stages of Bachillerato, towards more complex constructions, such as those
of emphasis (i.e. He is such a good swimmer; What a nice day!; How good it is to be here!, etc).
The expression of assertion, emphasis and disagreement has been considered an important element
of language teaching because of its high-frequency in speech. We must not forget that the
expression of these items is mainly drawn from both closed class categories, such as adverbs,
adjectives, and nouns, and open class categories such as prepositions which have a high frequency
of use when speaking or writing, and even when miming or using body language.

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Hence, the importance of how to handle these expressions cannot be understated since you cannot
communicate without it. Current communicative methods foster the teaching of this kind of
specific linguistic information to help students recognize new L2 words. Learners cannot do it all on
their own. Language learners, even 2nd year Bachillerato students, do not automatically recognize
similiarities which seem obvious to teachers; learners need to have these associations brought to
their attention.
So far, we have attempted in this discussion to provide a broad account of the expression of
assertion, emphasis and disagreement in order to set it up within the linguistic theory, going through
the localization of their main syntactic structures, and finally, once correctly framed, a brief
presentation of the three main items under study. We hope students are able to understand the
relevance of handling correctly the way of asserting, emphasizing and disagreeing in everyday life
communication.

8. CONCLUSION.

How language represents the world has long been, and still is, a major concern of philosophers of
language. It is worth noting that although assertions, questions and orders are fairly universal, and
most of the world's languages have separate syntactic constructions that distin guish them, other
speech acts do not have a syntactic construction that is specific to them. For instance, an utterance
like If you leave now, I'll never talk to you again! may be identified as a threat by most English
speakers.
However, English has no special sentence form for threats. The if-construction used here is not
specific to the speech act of threatening and even, such a construction might also express a promise
or simply a cause and effect relationship between the two physical events uttered by the speaker.
Moreover, almost any speech act is really the performance of several acts at once, distinguished by
different aspects of the speaker's intention: there is the act of saying something, what one does in
saying it, such as requesting or promising, and how one is trying to affect one's audience.
Making a statement may be the paradigmatic use of language, but there are all sorts of other things
we can do with words. We can make requests, ask questions, give orders, make promises, give

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thanks, offer apologies, expressing emphasis and disagreeing.. In general, speech acts are acts of
communication. To communicate is to express a certain attitude, and the type of speech act being
performed corresponds to the type of attitude being expressed. For example, a statement expresses a
belief, a request expresses a desire, and an apology expresses a regret.
As an act of communication, a speech act succeeds if the audience identifies, in accordance with the
speaker's intention, the attitude being expressed. In next sections, we shall address the expression of
assertion, emphasis and disagreeement through different grammatical categories and different
syntactic constructions which will make relevant these previous considerations already presented.
Throughout this unit we have shown the correlation between types of illocutionary act and types of
expressed attitude. In many cases, such as asserting, emphasizing and disagreeing, as well as all
types of acknowledgment, the act and the attitude it expresses presuppose a specific conversational
or other social circumstance.
Pretheoretically, we think of an act of communication, linguistic or otherwise, as an act of
expressing oneself. This rather vague idea can be made more precise if we get more specific about
what is being expressed. Communicative success is achieved if the speaker chooses his words in
such a way that the hearer will, under the circumstances of utterance, recognize his communicative
intention. So, for example, if you spill some beer on someone and say 'Oops' in the right way, your
utterance will be taken as an apology for what you did.

So far, in this study we have attempted to take a fairly broad view of the expression of assertion,
emphasis and disagreement since we are also assuming that there is an intrinsic connexion between
its learning and successful communication. Yet, we have provided a descriptive account of Unit 24,
untitled The expression of assertion, emphasis and disagreement whose main aim was to
introduce the student to the different ways of expressing these acts of speech. In doing so, the study
provided first a linguistic framework for our three items in order to get some key terminology on
the issue, and further developed within a grammar linguistic theory, described in syntactic terms as
we were dealing with syntactic structures.

In fact, asserting, emphasizing and disagreeing are speech acts which are a central element in
communicative competence and in the acquisition of a second language since students must be able
to express their thoughts, opinions and emotions in their everyday life in many different situations
and in detail. As stated before, the teaching of these expressions comprises four major components

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in our educational curriculum: phonology, grammar, lexicon, and semantics, out of which we get
five major levels: phonological, morphological and syntactic, lexical, and semantic plus that of
pragmatics, which offers us the social context in which we must use them.

In fact, our students must have a good knowledge at all those levels. First, on phonology which
describes the sound level. Secondly, since the two most basic units of grammar are the word and the
sentence, they must have good grammatical knowledge, which invoves the morphological level and
the syntactic level. Third, the lexicon, or lexical level, lists vocabulary items, that is, different
constative verbs and other expressions to denote assertion, emphasis and disagreement, specifying
how they are pronounced, how they behave grammatically, and what they mean. Finally, another
dimension between the study of linguistic form and the study of meaning is semantics and that of
pragmatics.

Therefore, it is a fact that students must be able to handle the four levels in communicative
competence in order to be effectively and highly communicative in the classroom and in real life
situations. Our three current expressions prove highly frequent in our everyday speech, and
consequently, we must encourage our students to have a good managing of them.

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9. BIBLIOGRAPHY.

- Aarts, F., and J. Aarts. 1988. English Syntactic Structures. Functions & Categories in Sentence
Analysis. Prentice Hall Europe.
- B.O.E. RD N 112/2002, de 13 de septiembre por el que se establece el currculo de la Educacin
Secundaria Obligatoria/Bachillerato en la Comunidad Autnoma de la Regin de Murcia.
- Bolton, D. And N. Goodey. 1997. Grammar Practice in Context. Richmond Publishing.
- Council of Europe (1998) Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common
European Framework of reference.
- Eastwood, J. 1999. Oxford Practice in Grammar. Oxford University Press.
- Greenbaum, S. and R. Quirk. 1990. A Students Grammar of the English Language. Longman
Group UK Limited.
- Greenbaum, S. 2000. The Oxford Reference Grammar. Edited by Edmund Weiner. Oxford
University Press.
- Hymes, D. 1972. On communicative competence. In
Sociolinguistics, pp. 269-93. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

J. B. Pride and J. Holmes (eds.),

- Huddleston, R. 1988. English Grammar, An Outline. Cambridge University Press.


- Huddleston, R. and G.K. Pullum. 2002. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.
Cambridge University Press.
- Nelson, G. 2001. English: An Essential Grammar. London. Routledge.
- Quirk, R & S. Greenbaum. 1973. A University Grammar of English. Longman.
- Snchez Benedito, F. 1975. Gramtica Inglesa. Editorial Alhambra.
- Searle, J. 1969. Speech Acts. Cambridge University Press.
- Thomson, A.J. and A.V. Martinet. 1986. A Practical English Grammar. Oxford University Press.
- Van Ek, J.A., and J.L.M. Trim, 2001. Vantage. Council of Europe. Cambridge University Press.

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