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Auteur: John DU BOIS

The Additive Stance: Speaker positioning and intersubjective alignment in discourse

Abstract/Résumé: The idea of a grammatical category of “additive” particles appeals intuitively to a notion of “addition”. Yet the exact nature of the additive process remains difficult to pin down. In current accounts, addition implies that (1) after a first linguistic unit (e.g. a clause or proposition) has been produced, a second is added to it; and (2) the two units are similar in many (but not all) respects. But people add information all the time; it’s not clear what’s so special about what is added when words like too are used. We have to ask: Why would someone choose to say something like I want to go too, or simply: Me too? In this paper I seek to clarify the function of the word too (in comparison to its close affiliate/competitor also) by a careful analysis of their use in naturally occurring contexts of interaction. As a theoretical framework I draw on recent developments in stance theory (Du Bois 2007), and specifically its formulation of speaker positioning and intersubjective alignment as components of the stance act. An important contribution to recent theorizing about additive particles is the idea of the quaestio (Gast and van der Auwera 2011). But the “question” is often simply stipulated by the analyst as the supposed background to the use of an additive. But much can be learned from actual overt questions in conversation, as in the following example. Three people have just passed someone whose gendered appearance is unconventional: A: What the hell was that? B: I think it was a guy. C: I think so too. When a Question Under Discussion has already received one answer involving speaker positioning (B: “I think”), the next speaker often responds with a positioning predicate as well, accompanied by a virtually obligatory use of an additive particle (C: “too”), indexing that the target clause represents a “stance follow” in contrast to the base clause “stance lead” (Du Bois 2007). I provide quantitative corpus evidence to show that additive too is more likely than also to co-occur with (1) first person subject; (2) affective or epistemic positioning verbs; (3) pro-forms and ellipsis; (4) turn beginning; (5) deaccenting of (most of) the clause; (5) sentence-final position. Additive particles like clause-final too and either frequently play an important role in indexing the stance acts of speaker positioning and intersubjective alignment. I argue for the need to recognize the prevalence of an additive stance, which goes beyond the mere addition of referential content. The current push to gain a deeper understanding of additive particles stands to gain considerably by directing attention to how they are used in the discourse practice of taking a stance.