Presentation Title

What Are You Saying to Your Dog, and Why Are You Saying It?: A Pragmatic Exploration of Dog-Related Speech

Presenter's Name(s)

Alexander V. BeneventoFollow

Project Collaborators

Julie Roberts (Advisor)

Abstract

This thesis investigates the pragmatics of dog-related speech, or the ways in which people use language when speaking around dogs. I will focus on several varieties of speech that are directed to or through a dog but are in fact intended for another human present. In particular, I will look at a phenomenon that I will refer to as “interactive dogcourse” where members of the ingroup of “dog people” enact within a unique linguistic framework in which they perform in a ritualized way of talking, specific to speech with dogs, that possesses at its core a playful, and often teasing, undertone. I argue that interactive dogcourse allows for a range of things, including: expressing ideas otherwise seen as socially unacceptable, forming and strengthening relationships, creating and enacting a specific identity, using the dog as an interactional resource (drawing from Tannen 2004), reducing the severity of face-threatening acts (drawing from Brown and Levinson 1987), and framing speech in a specific way with respect to a certain audience (drawing from Allan Bell 1984). This thesis will examine both how and why people utilize dog-related speech and interactive dogcourse to communicate with others by analyzing the form taken by such speech events, the function of dog-mediated speech, and the power/effect of the language itself.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Julie Roberts

Secondary Mentor NetID

emanetta, garodrig

Secondary Mentor Name

Emily Manetta, Guillermo Rodríguez

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Linguistics

Primary Research Category

Arts & Humanities

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What Are You Saying to Your Dog, and Why Are You Saying It?: A Pragmatic Exploration of Dog-Related Speech

This thesis investigates the pragmatics of dog-related speech, or the ways in which people use language when speaking around dogs. I will focus on several varieties of speech that are directed to or through a dog but are in fact intended for another human present. In particular, I will look at a phenomenon that I will refer to as “interactive dogcourse” where members of the ingroup of “dog people” enact within a unique linguistic framework in which they perform in a ritualized way of talking, specific to speech with dogs, that possesses at its core a playful, and often teasing, undertone. I argue that interactive dogcourse allows for a range of things, including: expressing ideas otherwise seen as socially unacceptable, forming and strengthening relationships, creating and enacting a specific identity, using the dog as an interactional resource (drawing from Tannen 2004), reducing the severity of face-threatening acts (drawing from Brown and Levinson 1987), and framing speech in a specific way with respect to a certain audience (drawing from Allan Bell 1984). This thesis will examine both how and why people utilize dog-related speech and interactive dogcourse to communicate with others by analyzing the form taken by such speech events, the function of dog-mediated speech, and the power/effect of the language itself.