Discourse and tactics varieties as a display of speech strategies communicative functions (based on OТHenryТs short stories)
Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №8 - 2016
Author: Rudyk Maryna, National Pedagogical Dragomanov University, Ukraine
Modern scientists show keen interest in the
pragmatic area of communication. Scientists attempts to make a better research
of communication motives and at the same time to study the most mysterious part
of human’s existence – his consciousness, cognition, thinking make pragmatic
verbal behaviour studying vital. Putting a certain communicative function in
the speech, a man uses some discursive strategies to influence the opponent. Scientists
analyze speech influence from different angles: author’s style (O. Herasimenko,
O. Hnizdechko), from the angle of communicative strategies and tactics as a
means of speech influence (I. Morozova, I. Yushkovets), contemporaneity angle
(O. Dmytruk, O. Fadeeva).
Researches were mostly conducted from communicative strategy’s studying angle
or as a separate study of communicative functions. However, specifically
communicative functions together with discursive strategies influence speakers’
discourse type choice. The aim of our research is generalization of
English-speaking society discourse typology in a certain historical period, the
end of ХІХ - beginning of ХХ century in particular. The tasks of research are
as follows: analysis of communicative functions and discursive strategies /
tactics influence on discourse type choice, description of basic discourse
types of English-speaking society according to characters speech in O. Henry’s
Discursive strategies are selected by the
speaker both consciously and unconsciously, depending on a certain criterion,
such as speaker’s social communicative status, communication location and circumstances,
intention of speech co-operation and type of lingual identity. The same
discursive strategy can be inherent to few types of lingual identity according
to the degree of rhetorical norms observance in the English-speaking society
[1, p. 7]. For instance, politeness strategy can be used by authoritarian, as
well as non-authoritarian type [2, p. 12-13], however the usage of the same
strategy by different types of lingual identity differs in choice of tactics,
aiming certain illocutionary goal achievement.
Analyzing characters’ speech in O’Henry’s
short stories, we take into account that their means of discursive strategy
expression represent speech co-operation functions [3, p. 78], that include: а)
factual information exchange between speakers; b) speech contact support between
them; c) self-expression and
self-affirmation; d) emotional relief through disagreement; e) disrespectful
reaction to events; f) exaggerated sensitiveness of one of the speakers; g)
exposure of differences in communicants values; h) restraint and suppression of
Depending on the dominance of one of the
above mentioned functions in the participants’ speech in a specific dialogue,
characters discourse in O’Henry’s novelettes can accordingly be divided into: а)
informative; b) phatic; c) affective (or highly emotional); d) invective; e)
rationally-heuristic; f) courtly; g) negatively categorical and h) restrained.
The informative discourse example is a conversation between the thief, who pretends to be shepherd
Percival Saint Clair, and scout, who is after him:
– There’s a
train-robber called Black Bill supposed to be somewhere in these parts, – says the scout. – Have you seen or heard of any strangers
around here during the past month?
have not ... except a report of one over at the Mexican quarters of Loomis’
ranch, on the Frio.
– What do you know
about him?, – asks the deputy.
– He’s three days
– What kind of a
looking man is the man you work for?
– Oh ... a big, fat
kind of a Dutchman with long whiskers and blue specs [15, р. 121-122].
Saint Clair reports only objective facts to
the scout. He uses informative strategy (he’s three days old; a big, fat
kind of Dutchman with long whiskers and blue specs). His answer does not
contain subjective appraisals and does not induce an interlocutor to any
actions. At the same time the scout confines himself to query of facts and
information (have you seen or heard of any strangers around here ... ? what
kind of a looking man is the man you work for?).
Depiction of Miss Bates and her old friend
meeting after vacation is illustrated by phatic discourse. Such
dialogue was aimed to establish and support speech contact between opponents:
– Well, Man, how are
the stories coming?, – said the woman.
– Pretty regularly, – said I, – About equal to their going.
– I’m sorry, – said
Miss Bates. – Good typewriting is the main thing in a story. You’ve missed me,
– But you’ye been
away, too. I saw a package of peppermint-pepsin in your place the other day.
– I was going to tell you about it if
you hadn’t interrupted me [11, р. 532].
As we see, friends try to create the
positive atmosphere of meeting, sticking to a principle of speech politeness. A
woman politely asks about her friend’s life (well, man, how are the stories
coming?). The man, in turn, displays anxiety about Miss Bates,
demonstrating interest to her vocation (but you’ye been away, too. I of saw
a package of peppermint-pepsin in your place the other day).
The main point of affective discourse is for the speaker to increase his/her own significance. As for example we can
observe the fragment of Mrs. Avery’s monologue, when she was requested by men
to assist in getting a job as a sheriff:
You might have had it the next day,
boys. I hadn’t the slightest trouble in getting it. I just asked for it
... . Now, I’d like to talk to you a while, but I’m awfully busy, and I know
you’II excuse me. I’ve got an Ambassadorship, two Consulates and a dozen
other minor applications to look after. I can hardly find time to sleep at all.
You’II give my compliments to Mr. Humble when you get home, of course [14, р. 203].
Mrs. Avery with satisfaction talks about
the easiness of the matter done by her (I hadn’t the slightest trouble in getting
it) and focuses attention on the meaningfulness and her necessity for
society (I’ve got an Ambassadorship, two Consulates and a dozen other minor
applications to look after). She ignores the rules of conduct set in
society. Such verbal behaviour is specific feature of affective speech
co-operation [4, p. 226]. Also Mrs. Avery emphasizes her own busyness (I can
hardly find time to sleep at all). With the help of such behaviour she
tries to increase her social status, and thus, the communicative status. All
the above mentioned facts give us the ground to view character’s verbal
behaviour as display of self-affirmation.
Invective discourse is directed towards emotional relief of lingual identity through
disagreement. It can be illustrated by the dialogue between Sam Liverpool, his
friend and reverend Pendergast, when the reverend saw them in misery. Let’s
analyze this abstract:
– It is indeed sad, – says
Pendergast, – to see you in such circumstances.
– Cut’ art of that
out, old party, – says Liverpool. – Cawn’t you tell a member, of the British upper classes when
you see one?
– Shut up, – І told Liverpool ... .
– Here is two dollars,
– says Pendergast, digging up two Chili silver wheels ... .
– Shall we eat?,
– I asks.
– Oh, ‘ell!, –
says Liverpool. – What’s money for? [9, р. 276-277].
Deprived life forces the characters to
voice their feelings in rough expressions (Cut’art of that out, old party;
shut up), that helps their emotional relaxation.
The example of rationally-heuristic discourse is a fragment of conversations between Jackson Bird and
Judson Odom, where the last accuses the interlocutor of flirting with his
– Miss Willella, – says
I, – don’t ever want any nest made out of sheep’s wool ... . Now, are you going to quit, or do you wish for to gallop up against
this Dead-Mora Certainty
attachment to my name ... .
Jackson Bird flushed up
some, and then he laughed.
– Why, Mr. Judson, –
says he, – you’ve got the wrong idea. I’ve called on Мiss Learight a few times;
but ... my object is purely a gastronomical one. Eating – that’s all the pleasure I get out of
sheep raising. Mr. Judson, did you ever taste the pancakes that Miss
Learight makes? I’d give two years of my life to get the recipe for making
pancakes. That’s what I went to see Miss Learight for [17, р.
Jackson Bird chooses an artificial smile
and ironical, but clever lie for the sake of his own acquittal (did you ever
taste the pancakes that Miss Learight makes? I’d give two years of my life to
get the recipe for making pancakes). Such verbal behaviour is based on
common sense and moderateness of hero’s character. The extreme reaction of such
conduct is the use of irony in expressions.
Courtly discourse is directed to touch the feelings of speech opponent. So, for
example, Ada Lowery’s speech is aimed to get help in the search of her beloved
I’m a terrible hayseed ..., – she said, between her little gulps and sighs, –
but I can’t help it. G-George Brown and I were sweethearts since he was
eight and I was five. When he was nineteen he left Greenburg and went to
the city. He was going to be a policeman. But I never heard from him any
more. And I... I liked him.
Another flow of tears
seemed imminent ... [8, р. 148].
In the fragment we observe the woman,
trying to convince her interlocutors in her despair by means of tears (George
Brown and I were sweethearts since he was eight and of I was five; he … went to
the city), at the same time using dramatic expressions (I never heard
from him any more; and I... I liked him). Courtly discourse is
distinguished by the refined sensitiveness and, as an extreme display, by
emotional outbursts through tears.
The essence of negatively categorical verbal behaviour is the establishment of one dominant point of view among
speakers. It can be illustrated by a fragment of conversation between criminals
Bob Tidball and Shark Dodson. The last intends to leave his friend and escape
from the police:
– Stop your funnin, – said Bob, with a grin. – We got to be hittin’ the breeze.
– Set still, –
said Shark. – You ain’t go in’ to hit breeze, Bob. I hate to tell you, but there ain’t any chance for but one of us. Bolivar, he’s plenty tired,
and he can’t carry double [18, р. 210].
Shark Dodson for the sake of his own rescue
chooses hard discursive strategy that is realized by means of directives (stop
your funn in’; set still) and injunctive (you ain’t goin’ to hit breeze;
there ain’t any chance for but one of us). The illocutionary aim of using
them is the achievement of absolute consent with the offered solution by both
The main point of restrained discourse is suppression of own judgment, offenses and emotions. It can be
depicted in the fragment of conversation between Mr. Dodson and his employee
– Ahem! Peabody,
– said Dodson, blinking. – I must have fallen asleep. I had a most remarkable
dream. What is it, Peabody?
– Mr. Williams, sir,
of Tracy & Williams, is outside.
I remember. What is X. Y. Z. quoted at to-day, Peabody?
eighty-five, sir [18, р. 211].
Peabody gives the
restrained elliptic answers (Mr. Williams, sir ... is outside; one
eighty-five, sir), without any additional phrases or expressing any
opinion, providing bare facts.
Each of the considered discourse types is
the result of embodiment in speech the corresponding discursive strategy. In
the course of speech material analysis according to the kind of used discourse
type by characters in O’Henry’s novelettes, we distinguished the following
discursive strategies: а) informing; b) politeness; c) categorical
disagreement; d) suppression;
e) affective; f) rationally-heuristic; g) courtly and h) invective strategy.
There are some more types of discursive
strategies and tactics portrayed in O. Henry’s novelettes. The strategy of
compulsion if one of them. The strategy of compulsion is the set of speech
actions, aimed to force another person for
accepting his/her estimations or judgements. Among the strategy of compulsion we distinguished the following discursive
tactics: а) threat; b) order;
c) hurt pride.
The discursive tactic of threat can be depicted in the next fragment:
– Give back the money, – said he, – or I’ll have the cop after you for false pretenses [5, р.
As we see, Billy Bowers understood instantly that he gave money to the wrong man. Therefore without emotions and clearly understanding a situation he calmly
expresses his desires (give back the money). To force the opponent for fulfilling his
requirements immediately, a man uses threats (or of I’ll of have the cop after you
for false pretenses). In such way the speaker gives his opponent no
choice and creates the visibility of hopeless situation.
The discursive tactic of order can be illustrated by a fragment of conversation between the editor of New York newspaper “Enterprise” and young reporter Vesey:
Vesey sat down on a
table corner and began to whistle softly, frowning at the cablegram.
– Let’s have it, – said the m. e. – We’ve got to get to work on it.
– I believe I’ve got a line on it, – said Vesey. – Give me ten minutes. [6, р. 651].
The m.e. is furious because nobody can
decipher the code, sent by the special correspondent Calloway. Young reporter Vesey volunteers to help.
That is the reason for the m.e. to be much more furious. To increase his
self-respect and to abase his inferior Vesey, the editor uses the tactic of
order (Lets have it… We’ve got to get to work on it). Usually such tactics are used by authoritarian types of language
personality to praise their own professionalism rather than other people
The discursive tactic of hurt pride is directed to pique the opponent by unpleasant words. So, for example, Miss Lydia’s speech is aimed to change her
father’s mind by hurting his pride:
At last Miss Lydia turned and looked at
the major. His thin nostrils were working like the gills of a fish. He laid
both shaking hands upon the arms of his chair to rise.
– We will go, Lydia, he said chokingly. – This is an
abominable -- desecration.
Before he could rise, she pulled him
back into his seat.
– We will stay it out, – she declared. – Do you want to advertise the copy by exhibiting the original coat?
So they remained to the end [10, р.
Pendleton Talbot argues his decision (This is an abominable
– desecration) and insists
on leaving the performance (We will go, Lydia). But young lady objects categorically (We will stay it out). Miss Talbot uses tactic of hurt pride to force his father to stay (Do you want to advertise the copy by exhibiting the original coat) and piques his ambitions as a military man.
The discursive tactic of hurt pride
is mostly used by women rather than men. But speech of young women differs from
the speech of old women. Young ladies convince
their opponents and try to change the theme of conversation immediately. They
are afraid that the opponent can change his mind. Older women are fully
confident of their life experience and their authority. They are sure that
speech opponents would accept everything as true statements. Sometimes they
even can make up something unbelievable:
One of the women, wrapped in a striped blanket, saw me pick up one of the stockings
that was pretty chunky and heavy about the toe, and she snapped out:
– That’s mine, sir. You’re not in the business of robbing women, are you?
Now, as this was our first hold-up, we
hadn’t agreed upon any code of ethics, so I hardly knew what to answer. But,
anyway, I replied:
– Well, not as a specialty. If
this contains your personal property you can have it back.
– It just does, – she declared eagerly, and
reached out her hand for it.
– You’ll excuse my taking a look at the contents, – I said, holding the stocking up by the toe. Out dumped a big
gent’s gold watch, worth two hundred, a gent’s leather pocket-book that we
afterward found to contain six hundred dollars, a 32-calibre revolver; and the
only thing of the lot that could have been a lady’s personal property was a
silver bracelet worth about fifty cents [7, р. 432].
During the robbery, the robber tries to
take away the stocking with jewelry. Furious lady is outraged (That’s mine, sir) and uses the tactic of hurt pride (You’re not in the business of robbing women, are you?). Really, even if he a rubber, he
is still a man. No one man would deny if a woman says he is a gentleman. The
lady defends her words (It just does), knowing there are jewelries of all her family (Out dumped a big gent’s gold watch, worth two hundred, a gent’s
leather pocket-book that we afterward found to contain six hundred dollars, a
32-calibre revolver; and the only thing of the lot that could have been a
lady’s personal property was a silver bracelet worth about fifty cents). Such tactic is aimed for opponent manipulation.
One more specific discursive strategy was portrayed in O. Henry’s novelettes. It is the strategy of
self-affirmation, that is a set of speech
actions, aimed to increase self-significance. Usually such
strategy is made by other people neglect [1, с. 14-19]. Among the strategy
of self-affirmation we distinguished the following discursive tactics: а) bragging; b) contempt;
c) intimidation; d) denunciation; e) irony.
The discursive tactic of bragging can be depicted in the next
– I’ve got the hall-room two flights up above yours, – said
Rosalie, – but I
came straight to see you before going up. I didn’t know you were here till they
– I’ve been in since the last of April, – said Lynnette. – And I’m going on the road with a ‘Fatal Inheritance’ company. We
open next week in Elizabeth [16, р. 633].
Miss Lynnette D’Armande tells her friend Rosalie
about her achievements (I’ve got the hall-room two flights up above yours). Miss Rosalie Ray has no possibility to say the same
about herself. That is why she makes up unbelievable and untrue events and uses
tactic of bragging (And I’m going on the road with a ‘Fatal Inheritance’ company. We open next week in Elizabeth).
But we should note that
female using the bragging tactic has a peculiarity. Usually
women overdraw the events to increase their self-significance. The difference
between male and female bragging tactic using is that men do not make up events. They tell
about real life events.
The bragging tactic and contempt
tactic example is a conversation between friends Idaho and Sandy. Being captured by snowstorm in somebody’s house, they found books. Idaho Green took
“The Rubáiyát” of Omar Khayyám. Sanderson Pratt
took “Herkimer’s Handbook of Indispensable Information”:
– I put it to
you straight, Sandy, – says Idaho, – it’s a poem book by Homer KM. I couldn’t get colour
out of it at first, but there’s a vein if you follow it up. I wouldn’t have
missed this book for a pair of red blankets.
– You are welcome to it. What I want is a disinterested statement of
facts for the mind to work on, and that’s what I seem to find in the book I’ve
– What you’ve sot, – says Idaho, – is
statistics, the lowest grade of information that exists. They ‘IIpoison your
mind [13, р. 105].
As we see,
Idaho uses bragging tactic to notice on his own adroitness and eruditing (I couldn’t
‘t get colour out of it at first, but there’s a vein if you follow it up). The man boasts of real events, not
made up. At the same time the
man uses contempt tactic, aimed to increase
self-respect by humiliation of opponent’s taste (what
you’ve got ... is statistics, the lowest grade of information that exists;
they’ll poison you mind).
The conversation between the young lady and
unknown man is illustrated by tactics of denunciation:
– I had my eye on
you yesterday. Didn’t know somebody was bowled over by those pretty lamps of
yours, did you, honeysuckle?
– Whoever you are, – said the girl, in
icy tones, – you must remember that I
am a lady. I will excuse the remark you have just made because the mistake was,
doubtless, not an unnatural one – in
your circle. I asked to sit down; if the invitation must constitute me your
honeysuckle, consider it withdrawn [20, р. 46].
woman has overestimated self-rating (I am a lady). Her interlocutor has lower social status. That is why she does not
consider the man as a high status gentleman and reproves him because of his low
cultural level, using denunciation
tactic (I asked you to sit down;
if the invitation must constitute me your honeysuckle, consider it withdrawn). She increases her own self-respect by her opponent’s humiliation (І will excuse the remark you have just made…,
the mistake was ... not an unnatural one - in your circle).
tactic of denunciation has a peculiarity.
Usually men do not have overestimated self-rating. That is why they do
not perceive the words so sharply and their verbal denunciation have mostly
Suddenly the dog stopped. A tall, brown,
long-coated, wide-brimmed man stood like a Colossus blocking the sidewalk and
– Well, I’m a son of a gun!
– Jim Berry! – breathed the dogman, with exclamation points in his voice.
– Sam Telfair, – cried Wide-Brim again, – you
ding-basted old willy-walloo, give us your hoof!
Their hands clasped in the brief, tight
greeting of the West that is death to the hand-shake microbe.
– You old fat rascal! – continued Wide-Brim, with a
wrinkled brown smile; – it’s been five years
since I seen you. I been in this town a week, but you can’t find nobody in such
a place. Well, you dinged old married man, how are
they coming? [19, р.
As we see,
during the meeting with old friend Sam Telfair, Jim Berry uses the tactic of denunciation (it’s been five years since I seen you.
I been in this town a week, but you can’t find nobody
in such a place), accusing his of that he did not
find him earlier. It was used to shift responsibility on his friend. To make a
feeling of his friend’s real blame, mister Berry uses ironical phrases (You old fat rascal! … Well, I’m a son of a gun!).
The discursive tactic of intimidation can be depicted in the
– Tommy, has the
Kid been around to-day?
– Why, no, Miss
Lizzie, I haven’t saw him to-day.
– I’m lookin’
for ‘m, – said Liz, – It’s got to me that he says he’ll take Annie Karlson to the dance. Let him. The pink-eyed white rat! I’m lookin ‘for ‘m. You know me,
Tommy. Two years me and the Kid’s been engaged. Look at the ring. Let him take
her to dance. What ‘III do? I’ll cut his heart out [12, р. 176].
Miss Lizzie gets to know about her
fiancé’s lover (it’s got to me that he says he’ll take Annie Karlson
to the dance). To show the power over Tommy, she uses tactic of intimidation (what I’ll do?
I’ll cut his heart out).
Using of irony tactic is a
typical feature of O’Henry’s author style:
– Afternoon! You
now ride with a equestrian who is commonly called Dead- Moral-Certainty Judson,
on account of the way I shoot. When I want a stranger to know me I always
introduce myself before the draw, for I never did like to shake hands with
– Ah, –
says he, just like that, – Ah, I’m glad to know you, Mr. Judson [17, р. 33].
One of cowboys
Dead-Moral-Certainty Judson tells about his achievements
(you now ride with an equestrian who is commonly called Dead-Moral-Certainty
Judson, on account of the way I shoot). To increases his own self-respect and gumption he uses irony tactic (when I want a stranger to know me
І always introduce myself before the draw,
for I never did like to shake hands with ghosts).
It is necessary to mention that hardly any
of discourse or strategy types is represented in “a pure form”. For example, discourse
without any informing filling or emotionally evaluation colouring, as well as
discourse without holding the norms of politeness is rather an exception. However,
using the wide context for characters’ speech analyzing, makes possible to
determine discursive dominant and global strategy, that plays a decisive role
is building verbal behaviour, as well as subordinates other strategies and
tacticians of their implementation. The research of communicative-pragmatic
features use and their implementation has great prospective, as it is their
use, that forms the variety of the discursive strategies utilization.
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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №8 - 2016