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Session Overview
PP-We-pm-ear - S2 -2: Parallel papers Wednesday early afternoon
Wednesday, 03/Jul/2019:
2:30pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Zhenhua Wang
Location: Seminar room 2
Storey Hall level 7

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A Contrastive Study of Attitudinal Realizations in the Constitutions of China and America

Hongqin Zhang

China University of Political Science and Law, China, People's Republic of

This paper makes a contrastive analysis of the attitudinal resources and realizations in the discourses of CPRC and CUS. For legislative discourse analysis is limited in cross-cultural comparison, especially lacking in Sino-US constitutions under Appraisal theory. This approach contains ideological positions via lexico-grammatical attitudinal resources in sub-systems: AFFECT for emotion, JUDGEMENT for behavior and APPRECIATION for aesthetics.

Research questions cover two levels, superficially and deeply. Lexical resources of appraisal theory are originally designed for public discourses rather than professional discourse of constitution. So the question is how to define the resources in CUS and CPRC? And deeply what causes can be traced to the differences and similarities of attitude resources distributions in Sino-US constitutional texts?

The core vocabulary of evaluation resources has limited accesses to CUS. Therefore, the original appraisal resources need a necessary expanding for a constitutional version by two measures: context and synonym. Words in the same context can be regarded as the same resource category, and another expanding is synonym researches of sub-category resources through online dictionary.

The result shows both similarities and differences between CPRC and CUS, both in the complex nominalizations due to legal culture, and in lexical and ideological differences due to societal culture and thinking patterns. The findings and the appraisal tables for CPRC and CUS are beneficial to Appraisal System in legal applications and to a deep understanding of human language and thinking.

Singular plurals and plural singulars in Estonian procurement cases

Martin Aher

Mind the Meaning Ltd., Estonia

We discuss recent legal cases in Estonia where procurement decisions were challenged on the basis of their use of singular or plural terms. Estonian cases are especially interesting from a linguistic perspective, because grammatical number behaves anomalously in Finno-Ugric languages.

It is well known in formal semantics literature that plurals can express atomic meanings. For example, the word “cats” is plural in the question “Were there cats there?” but one can reply with a singular: “Yes, there was one cat.” Recent work by de Swart and Farkas has shown that in Finno-Ugric languages, such as Hungarian and Estonian, singulars can also express plural meanings. One also finds similar expressions in other languages. There’s a debate on whether phrases such as “someone said they are coming” include a salient singular use of “they” in English.

Such ambiguities are especially problematic in procurement cases, as these concern the number of items being purchased, and often include lists of attributes in singular or plural form that add or subtract from the suitability of the applicant. Forensic linguists can be asked to submit an expert opinion as evidence to explicate their meaning.

Our case study will highlight difficulties that may arise in language-specific contexts. We will follow Farkas and de Swart in positing that different languages require modified semantic analyses. Illustrated by the case study, we discuss structures and conditions in which ambiguities arise and those in which they do not. The cases illustrate the importance of cross-linguistic foundations for forensic linguistics.

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