Studies in honor of Eddo Rigotti
Edited By Giovanni Gobber and Andrea Rocci
Maria Cristina Gatti, Andrea Rocci: Arguments for forgiveness. A pragmatic-argumentative note on apologies
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Arguments for forgiveness. A pragmatic-argumentative note on apologies
MARIA CRISTINA GATTI, Catholic University of Milan & ANDREA ROCCI, University of Lugano
In the following pages we will look at what really happens when people argue in support of an apology. We will do that through the lens of Congruity Theory, a theory of the semantics and pragmatics of discourse initiated by Eddo Rigotti, using linguistic data from English and Russian. It will turn out that apologies are an interesting case study for approaching the issue of argumentative discussions arising from non-assertive speech acts, and that argumentation can function as a reactive to uncover the covert directive nature of English apologies, revealing them as requests of forgiveness, and showing that, after all, they don’t differ too much from Russian apologies, which show their directiveness up-front. We will also see that excuses and justifications can support an apology as arguments, but, if they are too good, they will certainly ruin it.
2. Standpoints arising from non-assertive speech acts
It is not infrequent to encounter utterances that play the role of arguments in support of an act of apology manifested in another discourse sequence. The following three instances of apologies for missing ← 123 | 124 → class – collected from the Internet via WebCorp1 – provide a first range of basic examples:
(1) Sorry for missing class. I had car trouble on the way to the campus.
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