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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Subjectivity and the constitution of company ethos verified through a disaster communication. Ana Lucia Magalhaes. Subjectivity and the Constitution of Company Ethos Verified Through a Disaster Communication Abstract Discourse, rather than simple language production, shows complexity, and as such is a privileged space for subjective construction.

Since its origin, corporate communication gives paramount importance to objectivity and clarity. Its discourses, as a result, are elaborated focusing on facts; the style is journalistic, supposedly the most objective Kunsch, On the other hand, one of the objectives of corporate communication is creation and maintenance of company ethos. Since company image is based not only on facts, but also on impressions, which depend on an audience, it is fair to consider the study of subjectivemes, a concept coined by French theoretician Kerbrat-Orecchioni, as helpful in identifying subjectivity and its role in corporate communication.

A typical accident communication was chosen to verify the meaning of nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs within it, and these meanings analyzed to show their contribution to the construction of corporate ethos. Nonetheless, the very nature of discourse is subjective Benveniste, Our hypothesis is that subjectivity in discourse is an important agent for the development of corporate ethos. The analysis of a typical text will seek to illustrate the mechanisms of ethos construction, through identification and analysis of the marks of subjectivity detailed in the concepts developed by Kerbrat-Orecchioni Such a task demands some degree of abstraction, since one cannot speak of one discourse gender therein used.

In such a domain, there are press releases, house organs, newsletters, sites, blogs and many other resources.

Of course organizational communications are not limited to documents like these, written to reach the general public. Organizational communication is also concerned with other types of documents not considered here, like letters and reports.

The pieces written for the general public have one point in common: they utilize a language close to journalistic, since they intend to convey objective information and in that way they also differ from advertising. In other words, in order to establish corporate image in a credible way, there is a need to emphasize logos, rather than pathos, and ethos must be anchored on facts. Clarity, veracity, conciseness and consistency are characteristics of corporate discourse, since contradictions will undermine credibility and will likely hamper corporate image.

It is known, however, that no discourse is exempt from subjectivity - this applies even to scientific texts. Among other scholars, Emile Benveniste , French linguist and theoretician of discourse, was a pioneer in categorizing subjectivity as inherent to discourse. Organizational communication has to somehow deal with that. Another author worth noting is the Belgian philosopher Michel Meyer who introduced problematology as important to the development of a new theory of argument.

Problematology focus on the role of language in human actions, particularly through the questioning process. Meyer proposed three levels of problem: weak, when a question can be easily resolved literal sense ; large, when a question does not have an answer, but there are criteria for resolution; maximum, when there are no criteria for resolution and the question takes to other questions, for example, poems that can have different interpretations.

Discourse cannot be understood as simple production of language — it involves a complexity mostly originated from its subjective content, present in phrase construction and in the choice of words Ducrot, Ivy Lee, a journalist by training and considered by some to be the founder of modern public relations, wrote, when hired by John D.

Rockefeller to improve his public image, a Declaration of Principles. The text written in by Ivy Lee as cited in Russell, reads, in part: This is not a secret press bureau. All our work is done in the open.

We aim to supply news. This is not an advertising agency. If you think any of our matter ought properly to go to your business office, do not use it. Our matter is accurate. Further details on any subject treated will be supplied promptly, and any editor will be assisted most carefully in verifying directly any statement of fact. In brief, our plan is frankly, and openly, on behalf of business concerns and public institutions, to supply the press and public of the United States prompt and accurate information concerning subjects which it is of value and interest to the public to know about.

The presence of adjectives and adverbs emphasizes the subjective character of the text: frankly, openly, prompt, accurate, carefully, of value and interest. Who determined the qualification of services rendered?

Who is the enunciating subject? An enunciation subject or author therefore exists who determines, enunciates and elects pieces of information as true. Nevertheless, it is quite as important to the public to have this news as it is to the establishments themselves to give it currency.

It is expected that the reader knows that it is not true that all organizations behave that way. The statement, therefore, counts on previous knowledge by the reader, and this expectation is particularly subjective. This happens because the author had a concern to be objective that made his beliefs stronger than his praxis. In other words, he wants his reader to believe that the press bureau he directs is a producer of truth.

Such discursive desire faire croire is essentially subjective. A keen look at the text sees more opinion than fact described by an objective text. Though it cannot be said that certain grammatical classes are intrinsically producers of subjectivity, Catherine Kerbrat-Orecchioni , a French linguist and researcher, shows the mechanisms underlying the use of grammatical classes to produce a diversity of meanings.

Kerbrat-Orecchioni defines subjectivemes as grammatical classes that, depending on the context, make the text more or less subjective. The study of subjectivemes is helpful in devising organizational ethos, as we proceed to demonstrate.

According to that theoretician, every lexical unit is, in a sense, subjective, since words are symbols to interpret things. Discursive productions shape in their own way the referential universe and organize the world through abstraction.

The grammatical classes that can host subjectivemes are adjectives, nouns, verbs and adverbs. Adjectives Orecchioni contends that everything is relative in the use of adjectives. Figure 1 shows he taxonomy proposed. Figures 1 to 5 were developed by the author. Figure 1: Adjectives Classification According to Orecchioni She distinguishes the objective adjectives, which enunciate a quality independent from the enunciator, from subjective adjectives, that imply an emotive reaction or value judgment.

The subjective adjectives can be affective, if they portray a feeling experienced by the enunciator; or evaluative, if they describe an appreciation on the quality of the being or thing. The evaluative adjectives can be axiological or non-axiological, depending on whether they express a value judgment. The present paper is concerned only with the subjective adjectives, which are related to language on an interpretive level. Certain affinities exist between affective and axiological evaluative adjectives.

The evaluative adjective is used according to a double standard: internal - the object that has some quality, and external - the person perceives a quality in that object. The use of the evaluative adjective depends also on the idea of the speaker in relation to the standard. Negative and positive adjectives are non-symmetrical: useful, for example, implies a whole scale of usefulness; useless is absolute.

There are degrees of use of semantic values: a value can be imposed through strength and constancy, or the speaker can direct the interpretation to certain values, without running the risk of being accused of deceit.

Nouns Most affective and evaluative nouns stem from verbs or adjectives. There are, however, words that are intrinsically nouns and can be laudatory or deprecating. Those are called axiological see Figure 2 — they express a value judgment. One should be careful in differentiating the axiological and the stylistic. Figure 2: Nouns Classification According to Orecchioni As it is easy to observe, nouns are classified in the same manner as adjectives.

Nouns are objective when they designate some entity without any value judgment or feeling. Saying, for example, table, without a context, does not involve any type of evaluation. Even when one says a word like pact, that may signify an approach to some peaceful solution, it is not clear if it is a good or bad pact.

On the other hand, when a situation is deemed a calamity it is being qualified as something powerful and devastating. If the calamity refers to one person, chances are that that noun is also affective.

Such connotation is not strictly axiological, unlike elite, for example, that places the person or group among the best. Verbs The classification of verbs by Kerbrat-Orecchioni has important differences from the classification of adjectives and nouns. For that author, some verbs, like love, have a strong subjective content, contrasting with verbs like write.

Even those can present subtleties of meaning. A policeman can write a letter to a girlfriend or develop the report of a crime. Figure 3 shows how Kerbrat-Orecchioni classifies the verbs. Figure 3: Verbs Classification According to Orecchioni The evaluative value of a verb is strongly dependent on context, which makes the analysis of their subjectivity somewhat more complex.

Both verbs have evaluative character, but they are different in evaluation level and complexity. Statement a means that Mary considers the trip good for her, while statement b contains two possible evaluations: what Daddy is trying to convey and what Daddy is really going through.

The sources of evaluation are also different: in a the source is the agent and in b the source is the narrator. The author proposes three criteria for evaluation: 1. Judgment authorship: agent or narrator.

What is being evaluated: agent or process bringing along the agent. Nature of the evaluation: good versus bad, true versus false, right versus wrong.

Occasionally subjective verbs imply an evaluation: a from the process object. The subjective verbs, as shown in the scheme, can be: 1. Affective: express a favorable or unfavorable bias from the agent towards the object, implying a positive or negative evaluation. Opinative: used by the speaker to inform the audience on the opinion of a third party or self, and indicate the degree of certitude. Orecchioni proposes a scheme to place the degree of certitude.

Figure 4: Degree of Certitude 3.



He also argues that it is the new conditions of circulation of meaning that should be focused to account for how our media culture is changing. Como siempre sucede en estos casos por un lado se encuentra el hombre, su persona y su actividad profesional. Y por otro lado, su obra. Al hombre, tuve la oportunidad de conocerlo.


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