Persuasion is defined as human communication designed to influence the judgements and actions of others (Simons & Jones 2011). The purpose of this research is to analyse the discourse of persuasion in Shakespeare from the perspective of historical pragmatics (Jucker & Taavitsainen 2010), with particular attention to modals employed as part of the strategies. The modals under investigation are proximal and distal central modals, SHALL/SHOULD, WILL/WOULD, CAN/COULD, MAY/MIGHT, MUST, and the contracted form ’LL. The data for the present study is drawn from The Riverside Shakespeare (Evans 1997) and the concordance by Spevack (1968-1980). The corpus includes both cases where the persuasion attempt is successful and unsuccessful.
After defining persuasion in comparison to speech acts, quantitative analysis reveals how frequently the persuader and the persuadee employ a modal regarding each type of modality and speech act. Further analysis shows in what manner the persuader and the persuadee interact with each other in discourse resorting to the following strategies: modality, proximal and distal meanings of the modal, speech act of each utterance including a modal, and use of the same modal or switching modals in interaction.
This research thus clarifies how effectively speakers attempted to persuade others in interactions, shedding light on communication mechanisms in the past.
This paper accounts for how modals are interrelated with speech acts and (im)politeness, to offer a new perspective to the interactions in Shakespeare’s plays.
A variety of strategies to save or attack the hearer’s positive or negative face are taken into account within the frameworks of Brown & Levinson (1987) and Culpeper (1996), and the interplay between these strategies is observed in relation to the modals. Furthermore, this study analyses how speech acts performed with the aid of modals are associated with (im)politeness strategies, based on the inventory of speech acts proposed by Nakayasu (2009).
It has been shown that there are more strategies to save or attack the hearer’s positive face in Shakespeare which are employed with the use of modals. The analysis reinforces the proposal by Kopytko (1993, 1995) that social interactions in Shakespeare’s time were positive politenessoriented, going further to extend the analysis to impoliteness, and suggests the interrelated nature of modality, speech acts and (im)politeness.
Towards a pragmatic analysis of modals shall and will in Chaucer's language
This paper attempts to provide the first systematic analysis of the modals SHALL and WILL in Chaucer's language from pragmatic viewpoints. In addition to speech acts and alternation in discourse, this study examined modality in detail, which has a close relationship to pragmatic factors.
Whereas SHALL is distributed across all kind of modalities, WILL has a limited variety, with a strong preference to dynamic modality. The inventory of speech acts suggests a strong connection to relevant modality, although some cases are not related to any particular modality. WILL again has a more limited variety than SHALL. Incorporating these results into analysis, the scope of examination is extended to the alternation in discourse, i.e., discourse markers, successive employments of the same modal, and alternative uses of both modals. The findings here which other studies would ascribe simply to a matter of variation are in fact well-motivated and controlled by various factors such as modality, speaker-based vs. hearer-based speech acts, and social role.
It is suggested that further analysis of discourse and modals in other periods will shed more light on the pragmatic development of the modal and temporal systems in English.