Recent studies find that objects that do not clearly fit within the categories of their field are penalized by relevant audiences. We examine whether this ‘categorical imperative’ is dependent on the symbolic and institutional structure of fields by comparing the effects of genre ambiguity across two popular music subfields. The results show that genre ambiguity has a negative effect within the commercial subfield, but not in the artistic subfield. The effects of genre fuzziness on the reception of popular music are also contingent on the producing organization (major vs. independent) and the types of media outlets that review an album. We find that certain forms of ambiguity can enhance the critical reception of a popular music album. In general, our findings support DiMaggio’s theory regarding variation in the boundary strength of classification systems.
The fronting of the high-back /u:/ and /u/, as currently seen in Southern British English (SBE), is a rare opportunity to study two similar sound changes at different stages of their phonetic development: /u:/-fronting is a more advanced change than /u/-fronting. Since the fronting in both vowels is restricted from applying before a following final /l/ (e.g., in words like fool or pull), we can exploit the difference in the phonetic advancement of /u:/ and /u/-fronting to illuminate the nature of 'fuzzy contrasts' affecting vowel+/l/ sequences in morphologically complex words. As recent results show that /u:/-fronting is partially limited in fool-ing (but not in monomorphemes like hula), we ask whether similar morphological constraints affect /u/ followed by /l/ (e.g., bully vs. pull-ing). Simultaneously, we consider the question of what phonological generalization best captures the interaction between vowel fronting, /l/-darkening, and morphological structure. We present ultrasound data from 20 speakers of SBE representing two age groups. The data show that morphologically conditioned contrasts are consistent for /u/+/l/, but variable and limited in size for /u/+/l/. We relate these findings to the debate on morphology-phonetics interactions and the emergence of phonological abstraction.
In this paper, I attempt to distinguish four linguistic concepts: fuzziness, vagueness, generality and ambiguity. The distinction between the four concepts is a significant matter, both theoretically and practically. Several tests are discussed from the perspectives of semantics, syntax and pragmatics. It is my contention that fuzziness, vagueness, and generality are licensed by Grice's Co-operative Principle, i.e. they are just as important as precision in language. It is concluded that generality, vagueness, and fuzziness are under-determined, and ambiguity is over-determined. Fuzziness differs from generality, vagueness, and ambiguity in that it is not simply a result of a one-to-many relationship between a general meaning and its specifications; nor a list of possible related interpretations derived from a vague expression; nor a list of unrelated meanings denoted by an ambiguous expression. Fuzziness is inherent in the sense that it has no clear-cut referential boundary, and is not resolvable with resort to context, as opposed to generality, vagueness, and ambiguity, which may be contextually eliminated. It is also concluded that fuzziness is closely involved with language users' judgments. An important implication of this is that for meaning investigations, an integral approach combining semantics, pragmatics, and psycholinguistics would be more powerful and beneficial.
Discourse is a representation of reality to be shared with others but there are times when such a representation fails to provide an accurate evaluation of it. That is typically the case with quantitative numerical assignment, either because the speaker is (temporarily) unable to come up with an adequate evaluation or because he does not wish to do so. The result of the tension between fuzziness and precision in spontaneous spoken discourse is a grammar of numerical approximation forms which combine the scanning of quantity and of its representation. Whether it be with juxtaposition, coordination, adverb/suffix insertion or more elaborate forms, the surface of discourse displays a series of structures that bring us back to the cultural and cognitive basis for numerical representation, while unveiling the complexity of our relationship to numbers. All data come from the London Lund corpus of spoken English.
► Research on new genres often studies successful genres and overlooks how broader ideological processes shape their rise. ► We argue that genres characterized by fragmentation lose appeal and that ideological contention resulting from the rise of nationalism exacerbates the effect of genre fragmentation. ► We study modernistic music in Brussels in the inter-war period and find support for both arguments. Genre emergence is a collective sense-making process that goes together with the classification of cultural objects. New genres achieve a taken-for-granted status and obtain legitimacy when audiences reach consensus about the labels and attributes that apply to nascent categories. However, the development of shared understandings constitutes a non-trivial task, as often substantial fuzziness and contestation exist about these labels and attributes. Unfortunately, research on new genres often focuses on successful genres—although most proposals to establish new categories do not succeed. To fill this void, studies of nascent genres that fail to become institutionalized are needed. We study modernistic music in Brussels in the inter-war period—a genre that did not become taken-for-granted among a broader audience despite massive means and energy invested by cultural entrepreneurs. We argue that genres characterized by fragmentation—resulting in high category fuzziness or low contrast—lose appeal. Furthermore, we propose that ideological contention resulting from the rise of nationalism exacerbates the effect of genre fragmentation. When sub-genres resonate with different political ideologies, nationalist mobilization is expected to spur contestation about the meaning of the nascent genre—increasing its fuzziness and blocking the development of shared understandings. Our findings support both arguments.
Figures appear as a privileged territory for the study of the relations between rhetoric and argumentation, inasmuch as they have constantly been situated at the intersection of these two domains by their analysts. Beginning with an examination of the treatment of figures in the history of rhetoric, this article tracesa continuous evolution of their status in argumentation. After the classical period of oratorical rhetoric, which fully recognized the argumentativity of figures, a figurative rhetoric without argumentative value developed. However, in recent decades, interest has renewed in the part figures play in argumentation. -The second part of this article investigates in greater detail the relations between rhetoricity and figurative argumentation. Whereas figures are inherently rhetorical through their functional matrixes, they are argumentative only in certain structural and contextual conditions. Moreover, figures have many different characteristics by which they can be transformed into condensed forms of arguments. With the typical case of metonymy used in advertising, this article concludes by illustrating very concretely how a rhetorical figure can be argumentative. Through its transfers by contiguity, metonymy used in advertising offers strongly implicit arguments which revalue the products and their consumers. It thus participates in a procedure of persuasion/seduction, symptomatic of figurative argumentation.
Discourse is a representation of reality to be shared with others but there are times when such a representation fails to provide an accurate evaluation of it. That is typically the case with quantitative numerical assignment, either because the speaker is (temporarily) unable to come up with an adequate evaluation or because he does not wish to do so. The result of the tension between fuzziness and precision in spontaneous spoken discourse is a grammar of numerical approximation forms which combine the scanning of quantity and of its representation. Whether it be with juxtaposition, coordination, adverb/suffix insertion or more elaborate forms, the surface of discourse displays a series of structures that bring us back to the cultural and cognitive basis for numerical representation, while unveiling the complexity of our relationship to numbers. All data come from the London Lund corpus of spoken English. Si le discours se donne comme représentation du monde à partager, il est des moments où cette représentation ne parvient pas, ou difficilement, à proposer une évaluation précise de celui-ci. C'est notamment le cas pour ce qui concerne la fixation de valeurs numériques, soit parce que celle-ci échappe (temporairement du moins ou au moins) à la compréhension de l'énonciateur, soit parce qu'il ne souhaite pas proposer à l'autre un produit définitif. De cette tension entre le flou et le précis se constitue dans le discours oral spontané une grammaire de l'approximation numérique qui propose un double parcours, de la quantité bien sûr, mais aussi de la représentation de la quantité. Qu'il s'agisse de juxtaposition, de coordination, d'ajout d'adverbes ou de suffixes, ou de formes plus abstraites d'organisation du sens, la surface discursive offre à l'analyse des structures qui, des paramètres interactionnels aux fondements culturels et cognitifs de la représentation numérique, nous donnent à voir toute la complexité de notre rapport au nombre. Les exemples soumis à l'analyse proviennent du corpus d'anglais oral London Lund Corpus.
La digression, en plus de constituer un ressort essentiel d’Étrange façon de vivre d’Enrique Vila-Matas, s’avère opératoire pour penser les miroirs de la fiction, en ce qu’elle constitue un moyen de diffraction particulièrement fécond. Le narrateur multiplie les stratégies de fuite et de brouillage qui le mènent sinon à sa perte, du moins à son effacement dans les frontières internes du roman. Travaillant notamment à la dilatation de la temporalité, la digression mobilise également la fiction pour en forcer les limites. Étrange façon de vivre s’élabore ainsi sur le mode de la dérive à la fois narrative et fictionnelle, les deux dimensions étant solidement liées l’une à l’autre. In addition to constituting an essential fictional drive in Enrique Vila-Matas' Extraña forma de vida, digression proves to be equally operative in considering the specular nature of fiction itself, in the sense that it provides a particularly fertile means of narrative diffraction. By means of the multiplication of narrative strategies of escape and interference, the narrator is led, if not to his own demise, then at the very least to his effacement within the internal boundaries of the novel. In tending toward a certain temporal distension, digression in the novel draws upon the notion of fiction itself in an attempt to exceed its limits. In this sense, Extraña forma de vida is arranged according to a meandering approach, both narrative and fictional, these two dimensions being firmly bound to one another.
An extensive fuzzy boundary was identified within the adult extension of two exemplary object-words, 'dog' and 'ball'. The fuzzy boundaries were incorporated into the standard of adult extension against which the preschool child's use of 'dog' and 'ball' was compared, and the investigation provided a framework in which children's responses to fuzzy boundary referents could be accommodated. Responses to fuzzy boundary referents were considered as having precedents within adult extension and the data revealed the provision of precedents for a significant number of the young child's applications and non-applications of the words. The investigation concluded that, through adherence to an oversimplified concept of adult extension, previous research has underestimated the degree of correspondence that exists between child and adult extension.