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Language, reason and education

Studies in honor of Eddo Rigotti


Edited By Giovanni Gobber and Andrea Rocci

Language as reason represents the unifying theme of this multifaceted reflection on Eddo Rigotti’s scientific contribution offered by his students and colleagues on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Spanning argumentation theory, linguistics, psychology, semiotics and communication sciences, the volume reflects Rigotti’s generous personality and his trajectory of semiotician, philosopher, linguist and specialist in argumentation studies. Language as an instrument of communication with semiotic peculiarities is considered at different levels in which it manifests traces of reason at work. This means considering how reality reveals itself by means of language and how the semiotic character of language structures is used by people to enable joint actions and change the natural and social world. Particularly in focus is the realm of argumentation, that is of those joint actions where people exchange reasons in various communities, fora and markets in view of understanding and practical deliberation. To argumentation Eddo Rigotti devoted all his research efforts in recent years, with a keen sense of its intrinsic educational value and a sincere care for fostering the development of the argumentative mind.
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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

1. Introduction

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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