EMOtion and language ‘at work’: The discursive emotive/ evaluative FUNction in DiffErent Texts and work conTexts (FFI2013-47792-C2)
2014 - 2018 / Principal Investigator
EMO-FunDETT was a coordinated project which included the work and joint efforts of 32 experts from 14 universities all over the world. It was conceived as a sequel of the FunDETT project (see below), during which we had observed that the Affect/ Emotion part of evaluation systems in language had not been sufficiently developed or studied by researchers in general. We thus thought it was necessary to research this aspect in more depth, so that we would be able to scrutinize the different components and manifestations of emotion in discourse, and in corporate/institutional discourse in particular.
The project officially started on 1 January 2014, with a grant from the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO). It was a coordinated endeavor which included two projects: EMO-FunDETT EMOTION and EMO-FunDETT PERSUASION. I was the Coordinator of both projects and the Principal Investigator of the leading project, EMO-FunDETT EMOTION.
Our main research concern within the EMO-FunDETT EMOTION coordinating project was the emotive/expressive function of language. We looked into this function as realized and managed by individuals and groups in (both institutional and corporate) work environments. In a tight relation with the coordinating project, the EMO-FunDETT PERSUASION subproject explored mainly the persuasive function of language and its connection with the emotive function, also within work environments.
Our main aim was to clarify and systematize the study of the conceptualization and expression of human emotion as a reflection of a given stance, as well as to shed light on the relationship between emotion and some very important linguistic and cognitive variables affecting human communication and cognition. In both projects we adopted a line of research that is currently being deemed of great interest in the scientific world and knowledge of the 21st century: human emotion. We took a linguistic (discursive-pragmatic) perspective, with the intention of clarifying and somehow systematizing the study of the expression of human emotion as a reflection of a given stance in the discourse. 'Stance' is another term to refer to the evaluative function of language, within which the persuasive function –the topic of the Persuasion subproject– has an important role.
We explored the expression of emotion at the different levels of linguistic description (Phonological, morphological, syntactic, lexical, semantic, pragmatic), and in texts and contexts related to the world of corporate and institutional work. In myparticular case, I also explored (in association with Psychologist Juan Carlos Pérez-González) the relationship between
the expression of the different kinds of
emotion as a reflection of the so-called ‘emotional intelligence’, and consequently as a pragmatic/linguistic/cognitive phenomenon which manifests the relationship brain-body-world (context) within a dynamical system.
Our general hypothesis emerged from the premise that the expression of emotion is related to the emotional intelligence of the speaker, which is in turn directly related to his or her performance at the workplace. To put it simply, the discourse strategies used for the expression of emotion (e.g. the use of humor and irony, among many others) can influence the more or less productive performance of speakers within their work environment.
Thus, our main theoretical aim was to develop a methodology of linguistic-discourse analysis for the study of emotive discourse acts. And from there the practical aim of this project, which used the results of the linguistic analysis as the foundation for:
1) the creation of an emotive discourse-act data base
2) the design of a MOOC (Massive On-line Open Course) on language and emotion which could serve as a guide for linguists and researchers, but also for people interested in improving their communication strategies at their workplace by managing the use of emotive-evaluative-persuasive discourse strategies
3) the publication of scientific articles in impact journals showing the results of research, and especially, the publication of the volume entitled Emotion in Discourse (edited by J. Lachlan Mackenzie and myself), whose proposal has been accepted for publication with John Benjamins publishers.
At the same time, we worked on the application of the theoretical findings to concrete social issues, so as to gain knowledge about the way in which the uses and strategies of the discourse of emotion influence aspects such as business or institutional leadership. The description of this language function is being carried out through the multimodal analysis of real texts and discursive situations related to working environments in which mainly English and/or Spanish is spoken (web pages, dialogues, e-mail, videos, etc.), with a special emphasis on the so-called e-communication, given the great impact of the new technologies in the present global society.
Even though the funding for this Project has come to an end, I keep on doing research on this fascinating topic, exploring aspects such as the importance of the expression of emotion in different professional fields, or the exploitation of human emotion in so-called fake news.
2010 - 2013 / Principal Investigator
Functions of Discourse. Evaluation in Different Text Types (FFI2009-7308)
The research carried out within the FunDETT project pertained to the fields of pragmatics and discourse analysis, mainly covering the area of discourse functions. In particular, the focus of research was placed on the discourse function of evaluation as manifested through different linguistic levels and in different text types.
The FunDETT project received funding by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and included eleven members
from four different Spanish universities, namely UNED, Universidad de Alcalá, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and Universidad de Valencia. The national character of the members and universities participating in this project later became international in its second edition, the EMO-FunDETT project (see above).
All the research done within FunDETT was corpus-based. We made use of a great variety of corpora types (electronic or non-electronic), and we also created a modest multi-modal and multi-textual
annotated corpus of evaluative language by making use of the UAM Corpus Tool®,
a computer program for the annotation of text corpora.
The main language used and analyzed in the project was English, but we also carried out research exploring the evaluative function of language in Spanish, as well as contrastive and intercultural studies including different European languages.
The main publication resulting from our efforts was the volume entitled Evaluation in Context, edited by Geoffrey Thompson (University of Liverpool) and myself (see Publications), but there were many other publications by the different members of the project in the form of scientific articles in numerous linguistics journals.
(Computerized Oral Distance Exam)
2003 - Ongoing / Principal Investigator
Multimedia technology is a powerful resource for distance education if we consider that, up to a very recent time, distance education had strong limitations concerning the interaction between teacher and student, especially within language subjects, where the oral exchange between the two is fundamental.
Because I had been recently involved with the COPI project (see below) in Washington D.C., when I started working at the UNED, I was appointed to conduct the necessary research and work to develop a computer application which would allow the UNED language students to sit for their oral language exams on line in an asynchronous way. This need arose from the problem we had at that moment in the English Language and Literature Program, concerning the practical impossibility of carrying out the oral evaluation of all our students who, within the distance education environment of the UNED, are spread all over the world. It was consequently very difficult to get them to come to Madrid for a face-to-face interview with the coordinators of their respective language subjects, and
in some cases, then, we had to conduct the oral exam on the phone, without any warranties that the person at the other end was the student in question.
This was the origin of the CODE E-Oral Project, which initially consisted in developing a web application that would allow us to carry out distance oral exams in the first English language course (Inglés Instrumental I) of the new English Studies program at the UNED, but was later implemented to be used for any subject requiring an oral examination.
The research done within this project has therefore allowed our students to take the mandatory oral exams at any of the UNED Centers (in Spain or abroad) or using their personal computer with an internet connection, granting them greater autonomy and providing them with an ample calendar to take these tests.
The architecture of E-Oral allows the student to sit for the exam using only a minimum amount of equipment consisting of loudspeakers, a microphone and a camera that will allow him/her to listen to and record the exam. On the other hand, the Professor at the Main Center or the Tutor in the Associate Center will be able to listen to the student’s exam and grade it from their personal computer at home or at their UNED
office. In between the Professor and the student we find the server at the Main Center, which stores both the questions and the responses of the exam, thereby making it possible for the parts involved to interact.
E-Oral is now being used not only for the mandatory language oral exams at the Faculty of Philology of the UNED, but also in some of the subjects belonging to programs such as History, Psychology, or Engineering, to attend the needs of handicapped students who cannot see or write by hand and therefore require a different medium for the realization of their final exams, other than the written one. This shows the great usefulness and application of the project, which is therefore constantly evolving and taking different forms. It is also widely used for carrying out the oral exams of the different languages taught at the CUID (Centro Universitario de Idiomas Digital y a Distancia), the Center for the Study of Languages of the UNED, which is totally independent from the Philology Faculty.
I also find it worth mentioning that after many years of hard work, Dr. Mónica Aragonés and I finally obtained the intellectual property of E-Oral in 2015 (with registration number M-003423/2015), the usage rights of which we have transferred to our university, the UNED.
1998 - 2000 / External Collaborator
(Computerized Oral Proficiency Instrument)
The COPI project consisted in the creation and implementation of a computerized oral exam in different languages, and I was invited to participate in it while I was working as Lecturer at Georgetown University. It was carried out at the Washington D.C Center for Applied Linguistics and financed by the International Research and Studies
Program of the United States Department of Education. This experience was the root of my later decision to conduct the E-Oral project at the UNED (See above project).
My participation took place around in the recording of the exams. After the computer application had been created, I had to take a course in order to become a rater of the exams that would later be completed by different students several times a year. At the time, the COPI exams were not an online feature; they were computerized and asynchronous, but the students could not
take them from any computers other than the ones found at the Center for Applied Linguistics, where they had to go to sit for their exam. The program was much more limited than the CODE-E-Oral application we later developed at the UNED, for among other things, it did not allow the students to take the exams at a distance, from any corner of the world, as CODE E-Oral does. Nevertheless, it was the starting point for me to undertake the hard task of coordinating and supervising the E-Oral project for a considerable number of years once I was working at the UNED in Spain.
2004-2007 / Research Member
Intelligent Personalized English Tutoring EnviRonment (HUM2004-05758/FILO)
This project had to do with the application of the ICT to language learning and the design of an on-line ESP course on business and was conducted by Elena Bárcena at the
UNED. I was in charge of the discourse dimension of the program, the knowledge model of the genre dimension and the adaptation of all the components of the discourse dimension to the mandates of the CEFRL. Among other things, I had to make I-PETER II display and provide the users with a broad discourse perspective of the language of work and business (by presenting a wide scope of discourse situations in the different exercises), as
well as try to expose the students to different varieties of English (considering the real facts of international business communication) and adapt all these variables to the possibilities of the computer program we had at the time.