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Claims of Affect: Affectivity as a linguistic and sequential phenomenon

Busse Hansen, NIcolai Michael (2012) Claims of Affect: Affectivity as a linguistic and sequential phenomenon. MA by research thesis, University of York.

Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales.

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This study investigates how conversationalists use emotion in interaction. In analysing audio recordings of American English phone calls, a phenomenon labelled “claims of affect” was found. These are utterances which a speaker uses to claim a particular emotion that he or she feels at a certain point in time and is related to a certain set of events. Linguistically, the phenomenon is versatile in its design. However two main linguistic constructions have emerged. Each structure relies on copular verbs and affective terms. Yet pronoun use differs in each case. The first person pronoun I is commonly used to refer to the speaker herself whereas the third person pronoun it is found to function as a global reference that refers to abstract items such as events, situations and various circumstances. Claims can be located in “pre-cause” and “post- cause” positions. The cause should be understood as a trigger of the emotion that the speaker is claiming to feel. Pre-cause claims topicalise the cause whereas post-cause claims elicit either an aligning or disaligning response depending on the activity the conversationalists are engaged in. The responses of second speakers are typically empathetic. By doing an empathetic response second speakers claim to have access to how the claimer feels. In one fragment, a second speaker has been observed to deny the claimer her right to feel in a certain way. This suggests that one aspect of emotion is that it is a public, social phenomenon and not the private, psychological one that some researchers have argued. Conversationalists negotiate their affective lives with their conversational partners in order for them to confirm that their emotional response to a situation is valid. Their partners will therefore judge if this is so. If it is not the case, they will orient the claimer towards it as being an unreasonable claim. This means that they must be appropriate to the cause. If considered invalid the claimer faces a dispreferred response from the second speaker.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > Language and Linguistic Science (York)
Depositing User: Mr NM Busse Hansen
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2013 16:42
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3292

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