Author Information

Martha S. ChengFollow

Location

University of Windsor

Document Type

Paper

Keywords

Apology, Brian Williams, evaluation, image repair theory, modality, Paula Deen, positioning, Tiger Woods, representation, stance

Start Date

2016 9:00 AM

End Date

2016 5:00 PM

Abstract

Personal apology can be understood as self-defense—a response to an actual, implied, or anticipated accusation against one’s character. Within argumentation studies, scholars have investigated how public apologies are constructed to repair a speaker’s image and/or repair the speaker’s relationship with others through specific strategies. This paper broadens the study of apology by employing the sociolinguistic concept of stance, understood as the ways in which a speaker orients herself in relation to sociocultural values, other persons, actions, events, and, especially in the case of apology, another version of herself. In addition to explicit claims, stance can also be interpreted through subtle linguistic options such as metadiscourse, modality, representations, and evaluative moves.

This paper investigates apologetic stance through an analysis of three U.S. celebrity apologies: Tiger Woods's apology for extra-marital affairs, chef and TV personality Paula Deen's apology for using a racial epithet, and news anchor Brian Williams's apology for repeatedly telling a false story. The analysis suggests a definition of apologetic stance based upon alignments between speaker and audience with regard to the objects of stance: the transgression, the speaker's prior self, and the victim. The paper also discusses successful apology as expressing appropriate bias while unsuccessful apologies fail due to inappropriate bias.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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May 18th, 9:00 AM May 21st, 5:00 PM

The Stance of Personal Public Apology

University of Windsor

Personal apology can be understood as self-defense—a response to an actual, implied, or anticipated accusation against one’s character. Within argumentation studies, scholars have investigated how public apologies are constructed to repair a speaker’s image and/or repair the speaker’s relationship with others through specific strategies. This paper broadens the study of apology by employing the sociolinguistic concept of stance, understood as the ways in which a speaker orients herself in relation to sociocultural values, other persons, actions, events, and, especially in the case of apology, another version of herself. In addition to explicit claims, stance can also be interpreted through subtle linguistic options such as metadiscourse, modality, representations, and evaluative moves.

This paper investigates apologetic stance through an analysis of three U.S. celebrity apologies: Tiger Woods's apology for extra-marital affairs, chef and TV personality Paula Deen's apology for using a racial epithet, and news anchor Brian Williams's apology for repeatedly telling a false story. The analysis suggests a definition of apologetic stance based upon alignments between speaker and audience with regard to the objects of stance: the transgression, the speaker's prior self, and the victim. The paper also discusses successful apology as expressing appropriate bias while unsuccessful apologies fail due to inappropriate bias.