The Lyrical Sensibility in English Nature Writing: An Appraisal Analysis

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

Ferdowsi University of Mashhad

Abstract

Abstract: This study explores emotive language in lyrical nature writing from the perspective
of ecolinguistics in four nature books. In fact, embodied mind style is explored by considering
emotive  language  as  a  linguistic  phenomenon  that  can  inject  into  the  readers'  minds  the
sensorial, emotional, and psychological experiences of the lyricist. The interrogation of emotive
language  is  based  on  Attitude  subsystem  of  Appraisal  Analysis,  which  consists  of  Affect,
Judgement, and Appreciation (Martin & White, 2005). The analyses of the linguistic portrayal
of  Affect  --  based  on  the  modified  Affect  system  sub-categories,  including  Un/Happiness,
Dis/Satisfaction,  In/Security,  Dis/Inclination,  and  Surprise  --  revealed  the  prevalence  of
Insecurity  in  the  books  by  contemporary  nature  writers  and  Happiness  in  the  books  by  their
predecessors. Moreover, the Judgement and Appreciation analyses suggest that moral sentiment
and aesthetic emotion are indispensable parts of lyrical nature writing that can awaken humility
and sympathy in the minds and hearts of the readers.
 
زبان احساس در طبیعت نوشته: تمرکز بر نظریه ارزیابی
چکیده:
این مطالعه به بررسی زبان احساس در طبیعت نوشته های انگلیسی از منظر زبانشناسی زیست محیطی می پردازد. در حقیقت، در این تحقیق سبک ذهن بدنمند با در نظر گرفتن زبان احساس به عنوان یک پدیده زبانی که می تواند تجربیات حسی، عاطفی و روانی نویسنده را به ذهن خواننده انتقال دهد، مورد بررسی قرار گرفته است. در نتیجه، زبان احساس با در نظر گرفتن زیر مجموعه هایش --عاطفه، قضاوت و قدردانی--  براساس نظریه مارتین و وایت (۲۰۰۵) تحلیل شد.  نتایج تحلیل تاثیر با توجه به زیر مجموعه هایش شامل نا/شادمانی، نا/رضایتی، نا/امنی، عدم/تمایل و شگفتی بیانگر شیوع حس ناامنی در کتابهای نویسندگان معاصر و رواج حس شادمانی در کتابهای نویسندگان پیشین است. همچنین، تحلیل قضاوت و قدردانی نشان می دهد عواطف، همراه با  اخلاق و حس زیبایی شناختی از بخش های ضروری طبیعت نوشته های شاعرانه  می باشند که می توانند فروتنی و همدلی را در ذهن و دل خوانندگان بیدار کنند.
واژگان کلیدی:نظریه ارزیابی،گفتمان، زبانشناسی زیست محیطی، اکولوژی، ایدئولوژی، طبیعت نوشته

Keywords

Main Subjects


Introduction

Many languages are dying and, thus, making the earth a monoglot place. Crystal (2003, p. 191) says that this would be "the greatest intellectual disaster the planet has ever known". Nettle and Romaine (2000, p. 204), in their discussion on the hegemonic spread of monolingualism, write that "our global village must be truly multicultural and multilingual, or it will not exist at all". Language preservation matters a lot for linguistic diversity and is utterly linked with biodiversity. “When a language dies, a leaf falls from the tree of the human mind", warns Griffiths (1999, p. 221). In actuality, a way of being and thinking becomes unknown when a language shades into extinction.

To devastate a land is to destroy its language. "To silence a bird is to silence a part of human language and to render a species extinct is to make a simile die", argues Griffiths (1999, p. 223). She continues to say that having doe-eyes, fighting like a tiger, badgering someone, looking owlish, offering a fishy remark, etc. once were very common expressions and now have lost their figurative incidence and occurrence.

In The spell of the sensuous, Abram (1996) locates the onset of the ever-expanding separation between humans and the rest of nature in the invention of writing systems. As a consequence, language became disembodied. Moreover, alphabetic writing facilitates "sparsely linear or analytic thought" (Ong 2002, p. 40), resulting in "analytic categories that depend on writing to structure knowledge at a distance from lived experience" (Ong 2002, p. 42).

Naming and labeling are major features in the linkage between ecology and language. Halliday (1990) and Fill (1993) begin from the premise of the language-world system in which language has the ideational role of building the world. Language plays this role by naming or describing the ecosystem from the perspective of its utility for human beings, a perspective that is anthropocentric in nature (Fill, 1995).

Environmental education and the maintenance of relationship between humans and the rest of ecological beings mainly take place through the medium of words. Stibbe (2007) is of the opinion that it is becoming more probable for people to come across plants and animals as they are represented in books, magazines, advertisements, films, toys, and clip-art, than perceive them face to face in natural environments. The linguistic mediation, then, must be examined critically to reveal how ecological discourses construct the relationship between humans and myriad of species over the planet through the lens of semioethics.

In general, English among other languages, should be scrutinized by different ecolinguistic parameters for taking into account the role of linguistic signs in creating, sensitizing, and solving ecological problems. If the linguistic mediation caused the loss of touch with nature, it is through the same mediation that people need to be awakened to redevelop their connection with all living systems (Abram, 1996; Bate, 2000; Stibbe, 2007).

 

Previous Discourse Analyses on Nature

Earthborn beings are mediated by nature programs, books, magazines, advertisements, visual images, or the Internet. Word and image as signs that replace earthly beings can misrepresent or underrepresent the biosphere and its inhabitants. Berger (1980, p. 10) goes as far as stating that “in the last two centuries animals have gradually disappeared. Today we live without them”.

From the recent studies that have been carried out in the field of ecolinguistics, unpleasant pictures emerge that depict the separation between humans and the rest of nature. One of these pictures is that of erasure. "Erasure occurs when beings in the real world are represented by, replaced by, signs in text. What is erased (from readers’ minds) is the unique nature and complexity of the beings being represented" (Stibbe, 2012, p. 49). For instance, it was found that there have been a significant decline in images of animals and nature in award-winning children's books. The researchers concluded that children are not being socialized towards an appreciation of the ecosystem (Williams, Podeschi, Palmer, Schwadel, & Meyler, 2011). Similarly, the environmental charity ABC discloses that nature words such as 'beaver' and 'dandelion' disappeared from the Oxford Junior Dictionary to be replaced with technology-related words such as 'blog' and 'broadband' (Removal of nature words, 2014).

Animals are erased in scientific discourse through doublespeak, objectification, disconnection, and anthropomorphism in the language used to describe them. Kahn (2001) expresses her deep concern for the erasure of animals in the highly respected magazine Wildlife Society Bulletin. She blames scientists for adopting a passive and soulless voice, ignoring to consider non-humans as sentient beings in experimentation discourse, and disguising the unethical in their clever use of euphemism.

Durham and Merskin (2009) are also worried that in animal experimentation where animals are seen as pieces of machinery, the tendency is to regard them as abstract concepts rather than sympathize with their reality of existence. Pierson (2005) reveals another disturbing picture of erasure displayed by the Discovery Channel’s nature programs. Animals are anthropomorphized in the program's visual rhetoric and narration. These animal representations repeatedly reinforce the conception that the lived reality of animals is analogous with the social life of human beings.

On more negative notes, some studies reveal even more inexcusable portrayals of the natural world. The critical discourse analysis of publications produced by and for the meat industry by Stibbe (2001) discloses logics of suffering, including references to animals as resources; the discourse of science, which naturalizes nonhumans' oppression; and nominalization of practices, which hides human agency. Linguistic devices, from punctuation and morphology down to semantic classification schemes, metaphors and idioms, are used for ideological ends that contribute to the reproduction of animal exploitation. Again, Stibbe's (2003) study shows how linguistic distancing techniques used in the pork industry position pigs as objects and machines, a positioning that supports the formation and development of intensive farming in an environmentally damaging way. In a similar vein, Linzey (2006) suggests that industry discourse characterizes animals in ways that objectifies them as insentient and inanimate.

Poole (2006, pp. 42-49) documents how 'climate change' came to replace 'global warming', which seems to be more dreadful. Unarguably, the integration of the term 'climate change' indicates how controversial terms can be applied in the discourse of those in power in addition to the media. Carvalho (2005) interprets the three British quality newspapers – The Guardian, The Independent, and The Times – from the viewpoint of critical discourse analysis. She demonstrates how political governance of climate change is constructed in and by the media. The research shows that "the government’s discourse has had a strong and almost constant effect of structuration of the press’s discourse" (Carvalho, 2005, p. 19). Besides, "the ideological pillar of neo-liberalism has been left unshaken"(Carvalho, 2005, p. 20).

In a similar vein, Stibbe (2005) interrogates twenty-six EFL textbooks written in English by American and British authors that are used in the universities of Japan. The critical discourse analysis shows that while seemingly instructing environmental issues, the discourses convey consumerist attitudes, anthropocentricism, and reductionist views of natural systems and, thus, put the blame for environmental problems on the local populations rather than on the First World overconsumption. The textbooks depict technological fixes as the only possible solution to environmental problems and neglect Japanese culture's concern for deep ecology.

Through the lenses of the critical discourse analysis, Peppard, (2007) interrogates the representation of Japanese whaling in two written American and Japanese texts. While the American text represents whaling as illegal and morally wrong by using emotionally loaded language, the Japanese text supports whaling by resorting to scientific and legal jargon. The unveiled opposing ideologies are located in the cultural differences of the countries from which the written discourses originate.

A critical discourse analysis of the representation of nature in an elementary Persian textbook by Amalsaleh, Abdollahi and Kargaran (2011) shows that water and aquatic animals are highly neglected in the textbook. Instead, the birds are represented as valuable and powerful. The analysis of material processes hints that the ecology and natural context are devalued, which, in turn, makes the young readers inattentive to nature and its beautiful aspects.

The sociological agency may be erased in environmental discourses as well. Everett and Neu (2000) discuss the erasure of people in the ecological modernization discourse. They are worried about the erasure of the local, indigenous people, nexus of ecological and social relations, and unbalanced distribution of ecological assets. The pervasive discourse of ecological modernization represents environmental dilemmas as inexplicable through technological development without requiring any changes to the structure of society.

Schleppegrell (1997) specifically interrogates the linguistic processes which contribute to the erasure of social actors in the environmental education discourse. The findings indicate the suppression of grammatical and social agents through passivization and nominalization. Grammatical agency is expressed by generalization and indeterminacy. Similarly, the texts produced by students in response to the written texts and videos show no identification of real social actors responsible for environmental problems and solutions. Schleppegrell (1997) believes that problems cannot be solved if the main actors accountable for ecological degradation are erased from the environmental education discourse. 

Chenhansa and Schleppegrell (1998) report the investigation of the written discourse that explains five biodiversity problems in addition to the texts the students produced in response to these problems. Abstract nouns and erasure of social agents as main features of the scientific discourse restrict students' full comprehension of the environmental concepts. In effect, students' responses display simplification of the problems posed in the written discourse and generic terms for human agents, indicating their failure to fully grasp biodiversity issues.

There are many linguistic features which can appraise the earthly life positively or negatively, which are called appraising items by Martin and White (2005). The exploration of the appraisal system in ecological discourse can help to sketch the evaluation patterns of the narrators and lyricists.

Griffiths (1999) claims that both 'sustainability' and 'progress' need to be reevaluated and redefined in Pip pip. She evaluates the word 'sustainability' positively despite its unfair negative associations in the English language. This word needs to be reclaimed as "fleet, hopeful, sensitive and passionate – a vision of the future which tries to look ahead hundreds of thousands of years" (Griffiths, 1999, p. 206). She also writes that 'progress' has objectionable positive associations in Western society. Her negative evolution of it runs through the whole book. 'Progress' is "a one-word lie; it is neither the travel nor the arrival, but the ultimate ending" (Griffiths, 1999, p. 205).

In her book Findings, Jamie (2005) severely disregards the common evaluation 'dark is bad' and instead evidently defends the evaluation 'dark is good'. She employs the negative appraisal items 'wicked', 'devilish', 'grim', and 'death' to depict a prevalent way of talking about the dark in English discourses. The positive evaluation of darkness is supported by establishing a link between darkness and positive appraising items: 'love', 'intimacy', 'natural', 'good', 'courteous', 'real', and 'starry'. On the contrary, brightness is linked to the negative appraising items ‘brash’, 'brutal', 'dazzled'. The simile 'bright as a tube train' creates a disturbing image in the mind of the reader.

Correspondingly, Woolfson (2013) rejects the evaluation 'rats are bad' in Field Notes from a Hidden City. She starts with using the negative appraising items 'shuddering revulsion', 'distaste', 'fear', 'reviled' and 'destructiveness'. She, then, resorts to positive appraising items ‘appreciation’, 'adaptability', 'intelligence', 'charm', 'beauty', 'successful', 'interesting', 'qualities', 'resourcefulness', and 'success' to propagate 'rats are good' evaluation.

Alexander (2009) investigates a public lecture by Vandana Shiva, an Indian environmental activist. The investigation reveals that 'small is good' is highly valued in the analyzed lecture. In fact, Shiva invariably groups 'small' with positively charged terms, including 'biodiversity', 'women', 'farms', 'farmers', 'peasants', 'local', 'cottage industry', 'plants', and 'insects'. She also evaluates 'large' negatively by grouping it with 'industrial monocultures' and 'trading companies'. Undeniably, Shiva intends to re-vitalize the culturally downgraded notion of 'smallness'.

Stibbe (2015) is of the opinion that 'sunny weather is good' and 'not sunny weather is bad' are pervasive evaluation patterns in the United Kingdom. His analysis of sixty weather forecasts demonstrates these evaluative patterns on weather. The positive appraising items are almost constantly used to describe weather which is 'dry', 'warm', 'sunny', 'bright', 'fine', or 'hot'; conversely, the negative expressions relate to a broad range of weathers. This persistent cultural evaluation seems to signify fear of moisture and fear of the dark. Stibbe's (2015) similar research on classical haiku indicates a deep appreciation of a wide range of weathers in Japanese haiku poetry. Nevertheless, loneliness is commonly associated with cold or windy weather. This association does not imply a culturally negative evaluation since winter seclusion can result in divine peace.

In summary, the general tendencies appear to be almost the same in the reviewed literature. The studies on ecological discourse show that language plays an all-important role in making human beings responsible members of the landscape. They also urge humans to listen to the voice of nature.

The analysis of Appraisal features in ecological discourse has received little attention. Thus, this article explores the portrayal of the emotion of the nature writers as emoters from a critical standpoint to unearth ideologically-significant embodied mind style in the four masterpieces on nature.

 

Corpus Description

This study, thus, involves analyses of four books on nature:

1. A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There

Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948) was an American author, scientist, ecologist, forester, and environmentalist. Describing the American woodlands that the author visited, the collection of essays advocates Leopold's (1949) idea of a land ethic, or a responsible relationship existing between people and the land they inhabit.

2. Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology

David Abram (born June 24, 1957) is an American philosopher, cultural ecologist, performance artist, and founder of the Alliance for Wild Ethics. In Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, Abram (2010) takes readers into a pleasant journey to visit wild creatures and terrains. His insights grow out of a naturalist's experience in the wild, though encounters with moose, spiders, forests, and shamans. He constantly reminds the readers that they are dependent beings who are wholly embedded in a dynamic and breathing universe. Becoming Animal is a lyrical text about language and communication as well. Drawing upon the discourse of birds, Abram (2010) believes that everything speaks.

3. The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland

Nan (Anna) Shepherd (11 February 1893 – 23 February 1981) was a Scottish novelist and poet. In this masterpiece of nature writing, Shepherd (1977) describes her journeys into the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. Her intense, poetic prose describes the rocks, rivers, creatures and hidden aspects of this remarkable landscape. This non-fiction was written during the 1940s and was not published until 1977.

4. Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World

Kathleen Jamie (born 13 May 1962) is a prize-winning Scottish poet and renowned nature writer. In Sightlines: A Conversation with the Natural World, Jamie (2012) lyrically talks about her close engagement with nature and constantly questions the relationship human beings have with birds, whales, the sea, the land and the weather.

 

Method

To analyze English nature writing as constructed in the discourse of the corpus, the study employs critical discourse analysis (CDA) (van Dijk, 2001; Wodak, 2001) as its methodological framework. The major interest of CDA lies in investigating ideologies which are “typically, though not exclusively, expressed and reproduced in discourse and communication, including non-verbal semiotic messages, such as pictures, photographs and movies" (van Dijk, 1995, p. 17). The language of evaluation of nature both shapes and conveys the ideology of the text producer. Ideology analysis in ecolinguistics is an attempt to expose ideological positionalities of the narrator or lyricist. To put it another way, the ecolinguist critically evaluates whether an ideology cultivates ecological integrity or supports progressive industrialism.

Nature-related discourses which are imbued with a poetic tone can evoke the emotion of the readers and instill into them a love for nature. As a result, ecological discourses should be explored for their ways of Appraising nature and natural phenomena. Appraisal Analysis deals with the way speakers or writers encode different types of subjective ideas in their discourse. It offers resourceful lexicogrammatical tool for its end (Martin & White, 2005).

Appraisal Analysis is subjectivity analysis. Subjectivity deals with self-expression, i.e. the expression of the writer's attitudes, ideas, emotions, judgement, will, personality, etc. Subjectivity lies at the heart of first-person discourse which is itself a key feature of lyricism. Through the discourse analytic framework, it can be discovered how feelings are mapped within the lyrical texts by the experiencing self.

Appraisal analysis is also social semiotic analysis for language is a resource for making meanings in eco-social contexts. Linguistic resources of Affect are available to emoters as semiotic resources to sketch their emotions in order to project for readers the experienced earth. The language consumers decode meanings of the semiotics of the Affect to absorb the projected reality of nature writers. Truly, ecological discourse deeply imbued with emotion can influence social actions by invoking emotional reactions in the readers.

Specifically, Appraisal Analysis has its origin in the interpersonal function of language, which permits the language user to comment on the world. According to Halliday (1978, p. 112), it is through the interpersonal function that the speaker or writer "intrudes himself into the context of situation, both expressing his own attitudes and judgments and seeking to influence the attitudes and behavior of others". In order to delve behind the interpersonal function, Martin and White (2005) advance a theory of Appraisal. Appraisal theory sub-divides evaluative meanings into three systems: Attitude, Engagement and Graduation. The first one "is concerned with our feelings, including emotional reactions, judgments of behavior and evaluation of things" (Martin & White, 2005, p. 35).

Attitude has three sub-systems: Affect, Judgment and Appreciation. Affect encodes positive and negative emotions of Happiness, Security, Satisfaction, and Inclination. The second category, Judgment, focuses on ethical evaluations of human behavior or, less commonly, non-human entities. Lastly, Appreciation marks aesthetic evaluations of things, natural phenomena, or processes (Martin & White, 2005).

Judgment is subdivided into two broad categories: judgments of social esteem (Normality, Capacity, and Tenacity) and judgments of social sanction (Veracity and Propriety). Appreciation is organized around Reaction, Composition, and Valuation. Reaction concerns the impact of the text/process on the attention (Impact) and its attitudinal impact (Quality). Composition deals with perceptions of proportionality/balance (Balance) and detail (Complexity) in a text/process. Valuation is related to the assessment of the social significance of the appreciated entity (worthwhile), based on Bednarek (2008).

Thus, in terms of Appraisal categories, the kinds of evaluation identified in the data belong to the sub-categories of Attitude. Incidentally, the modified Affect system includes Un/Happiness, Dis/Satisfaction, In/ Security, Dis/Inclination, and Surprise (Bednarek, 2008).

The software application, UAM Corpus Tool (O’Donnell, 2008), was used to annotate the data semi-manually. The data were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitative analysis allows for the comparison of the corpora under the investigation. Qualitative analysis gives deep and detailed information of the corpus, unveiling both similarities and differences that exist in the corpus.

 

Analysis and Result

All books have a poetic tone and profoundly portray Affect linguistically. Abram (2010) is the only author who heavily relies on terms of Affect in his book and, thus, aims to represent the experienced world poetically. Shepherd's (1977) discourse appears to be the least emotional one in the corpus.

The most occurring variable in the books of contemporary authors is In/Security. In/Securityfeelings relate to emotions concerned with "ecosocial wellbeing– anxiety, fear, confidence and trust" (Martin & White, 2005, p. 49). It covers the feelings of peace or anxiety with regard to the world. The Disquiet value reoccurs considerably in Becoming Animal with 23.69% and Sightlines with 19.30%. The interdependent lattice of relationships and the fuzzy boundary between the known and unknown in the breathing world together unnervingly perplex the authors and kindle humility within them. In consequence, these render them vulnerable and susceptible to the sensitivity of the other shapes of awareness. 

Being afraid of the loss of contact with the palpable cosmos and overwhelmed by the wisdom of place-based intelligence, the skein of the words written by Abram (2010) and Jamie (2012) entwine their alarming concern for the wildness of all things. This ancient concern subtly signifies the belief in the expressive agency in all non-human forms of sentience.

Crucially, American and Europeans share the obsession with regard to security in the aftermath of 9/11. In consequence, Western writers would prefer to think about security rather than happiness. It is imaginable that nature writers, growing up in the second half of the 20th century, would be disquieted, both by the threat of a nuclear war, and by a growing sense that people don’t know enough about the enigmatic nature and what they might be doing to it.

The following are the examples for their feelings of disquiet:

1) We lock in the closet our vague puzzlement at finding ourselves here, in this very place, at this very moment of the world’s unfolding. (Abram, 2010, p. 49)

2) Had what I’d just witnessed been merely a mistaken perception, a momentary confusion of my senses …? (Abram, 2010, p. 227)

3) And I hear a girl’s voice, one of my daughter’s friends, one of the four girls playing in the garden. She makes a call poised just between play and fear.  (Jamie, 2012, p. 30)

4) I can’t recall whether curtains or a blind screened the window, but I remember being puzzled by the sudden hissing noise, and crossing the room to peer outside, and the flat roofs, and the sheeting rain in the October night. (Jamie, 2012, p. 14)

The affection value of the Un/Happiness variable receives the most attention in A Sand County Almanac with 17.25% and The Living Mountain with 21.94%. The repetitive use of affection terms such as love, like, respect, and cherish in these books is in line with semioethics, a perspective the core concern of which is an inherent love of nature (Petrilli & Ponzio, 2010). In truth, this also hints the deep-rooted, ancient love for all living systems. This love is called 'biophilia' and is defined by Wilson (1984, p. 1) as "the urge to affiliate with other forms of life". The inherent affection for nature is illustrated in the following examples:

5) The only conclusion I have ever reached is that I love all trees, but I am in love with pines. (Leopold, 1949, p. 68)

6) But all conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish. (Leopold, 1949, p. 92)

7) To one who loves the hills at every season, the blossoming is not the best of the heather. (Shepherd, 1977, p. 42)

8) They respect, whether they share it or not, your passion for the hill. (Shepherd, 1977, p. 55)

The Surprise variable in A Sand County Almanac and the Dis/Inclination variable in The Living Mountain, Becoming Animal, and Sightlines do not occur persistently, considering the other affairs of the heart. Nature seldom amazes Leopold (1949) and is not heavily coveted by the rest of the authors.

Table 1. The result of the analysis of Affect in the language of four nature writers

 

Aldo Leopold

Kathleen Jamie

Nan Shepherd

David  Abram

Feature

N

Percent

N

Percent

N

Percent

N

Percent

AFFECT

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

un/happiness

101

29.53%

76

22.22%

86

36.29%

137

19.91%

dis/satisfaction

77

22.51%

73

21.35%

53

22.36%

142

20.64%

in/security

84

24.56%

119

34.80%

48

20.25%

279

40.55%

dis-inclination

57

16.67%

22

6.43%

12

5.06%

55

7.99%

surprise

23

6.73%

52

15.20%

38

16.03%

75

10.90%

UN/HAPPINESS

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

happiness

77

22.51%

53

15.50%

77

32.49%

87

12.65%

unhappiness

24

7.02%

23

6.73%

9

3.80%

50

7.27%

HAPPINESS

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

cheer

18

5.26%

16

4.68%

25

10.55%

22

3.20%

affection

59

17.25%

37

10.82%

52

21.94%

64

9.30%

UNHAPPINESS

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

misery

14

4.09%

13

3.80%

4

1.69%

38

5.52%

antipathy

10

2.92%

10

2.92%

5

2.11%

11

1.60%

DIS/SATISFACTION

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

satisfaction

57

16.67%

59

17.25%

41

17.30%

120

17.44%

dissatisfaction

20

5.85%

14

4.09%

12

5.06%

21

3.05%

SATISFACTION

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

interest

32

9.36%

43

12.57%

33

13.92%

84

12.21%

pleasure

25

7.31%

16

4.68%

8

3.38%

36

5.23%

DISSATISFACTION

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

ennui

12

3.51%

8

2.34%

7

2.95%

4

0.58%

displeasure

8

2.34%

6

1.75%

5

2.11%

16

2.33%

IN/SECURITY

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

security

35

10.23%

44

12.87%

21

8.86%

96

13.95%

insecurity

49

14.33%

75

21.93%

27

11.39%

182

26.45%

SECURITY

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

quiet

30

8.77%

32

9.36%

13

5.49%

78

11.34%

trust

5

1.46%

12

3.51%

8

3.38%

18

2.62%

INSECURITY

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

disquiet

41

11.99%

66

19.30%

25

10.55%

163

23.69%

distrust

8

2.34%

9

2.63%

2

0.84%

17

2.47%

DIS/INCLINATION

N=342

N=342

N=237

N=688

Inclination/desire

50

14.62%

19

5.56%

11

4.64%

51

7.41%

Disinclination/non-desire

7

2.05%

3

0.88%

1

0.42%

4

0.58%

 

According to Table 2, Normality which is related to the specialness of things occurs in Becoming Animal with 24.75%. Words such as charmed, stable, peculiar, and obscure are means to this goal. The book has the most frequent usage of Capacity, Tenacity, and Propriety with 43.4%, 12.57%, and 11.36%, respectively. Clever, powerful, naïve, accomplished, and other similar words are used to convey Capacity in the book. Examples for Tenacity are resolute, capricious, cautious, and reckless.  Propriety is also hinted by sensitive, fair, modest, moral etc. Among the four books, Sightlines uses Veracity linguistic devices (e.g. frank, truth, blunt, and candid) the most with 16.42%. These findings are exemplified in the following excerpts from the books:

9) Sometimes the rest of the surface would stay stable, but the very patch where I was focused would begin to give way, dissolving backward, it seemed, into the interior of the boulder, and my focus would lose itself in that molten thickness. (Abram. 2010, p. 241)

10) Perhaps for this reason, the sacred language regularly attributed by tribal peoples to their most powerful shamans is often referred to as “the language of the birds.” (Abram, 2010, p. 196)

11) This animal body, for all its susceptibility and vertigo, remains the primary instrument of all our knowing, as the capricious earth remains our primary cosmos.  (Abram, 2010, p. 8)

12) It is a sensitive sphere suspended in the solar wind, a round field of sentience sustained by the relationships between the myriad lives and sensibilities that compose it. (Abram, 2010, p. 143)

13) The German couple were candid about it—the man was ill, and wanted to experience wild, abandoned St Kilda and all its birds, before it was too late. (Jamie, 2012, p. 41)

Based on the findings, the discourse of contemporary writers is filled with an ethical tone. Furthermore, the findings underscore the fact that there are tripartite relations between emotion, ethics, and natural places. The writers’ embodied mind style informs the readers that the preservation of the land is deeply in need of an engaged understanding of all sentient beings in addition to an ecological responsibility for the betterment of tomorrow. Smith (2007, pp. 220-221) aptly says that “the process of ethical becoming requires an emotional openness to circumstance that enables the previously determined boundaries of our being to be re-constituted and re-interpreted”.

Table 2. The result of the analysis of Judgement in the language of four nature writers

 

Aldo Leopold

Kathleen Jamie

Nan Shepherd

David  Abram

Feature

N

Percent

N

Percent

N

Percent

N

Percent

SOCIAL ESTEEM

N=205

N=280

N=165

N=493

normality

45

21.95%

52

18.6%

45

27.27%

122

24.75%

capacity

90

43.9%

119

42.5%

72

43.63%

214

43.4%

tenacity

16

7.8%

29

10.36%

14

8.5%

62

12.57%

SOCIAL SANCTION

N=205

N=280

N=165

N=493

propriety

47

22.9%

34

12.14%

18

10.9%

56

11.36%

veracity

7

3.41%

46

16.42%

16

9.7%

39

7.91%

 

As Table 3 shows, Abram (2010) is the only author who heavily resorts to Appreciation. The frequent use of Impact-related terms such as intense, dramatic, predictable, and monotonous with 18.63% is indicative of the fact that the more-than-human terrain fully grabs the writer’s attention. Succinctly, the living locale provokes emotional reaction in Becoming Animal. In a similar vein, words such as exciting, lively, unremarkable, and dry signify that to a great extent nature and what is usually believed to be non-nature have an emotional impact upon Jamie (2012) at 26.36%. Quality-related words such as fine, lovely, plain, and bad frequently occur in Leopold’s (1949) discourse as well with 29.4%. Some examples found in the corpus are:

14) The radiant eye of the kingfisher still watches, but its stare is steadily growing less intense. (Abram, 2010, p. 14)

15) If something exciting looked like it was emerging, backwards, like a dog out of hedge, a more experienced worker would be sent to take over. (Jamie, 2012, p. 23)

16) For example, there was ‘The Boneyard,’ a lovely meadow where bluebells arched over the half-buried skulls and scattered vertebrae of cows long since dead. (Leopold, 1949, p. 113)

Again, Abram (2010) is ahead of the rest of the writers when it comes to Balance, Complexity and Valuation, with 3.7%, 28.47%, and 38.14% respectively. Symmetrical, balanced, discordant, and irregular are examples words which show his concern for Balance. On Complexity, words such as pure, detailed, arcane, and plain appear in the book. Shepherd (1977) also aesthetically appreciates the complexity of the mountain and its inhabitants at 36.73%. For example, the use of words lucid, intricate, clear, and woolly are means to this end. Finally, Abram (2010) intensely finds the biosphere valuable by describing it as profound, deep, genuine, and creative. Some illustrative examples are:

17) As long as I could lose myself in the rhythms, then the discordant sensations would dissipate within that wider reverberation. (Abram, 2010, p. 235)

18) I began to read feverishly in the arcane world of quantum physics, trying to glean whatever I could. (Abram, 2010, p. 65)

19) Yet as I walk around the grove, the depth shifts: from here, that crowd of aspens has a more profound and many-layered depth, and my eyes cannot really penetrate it. (Abram, 2010, p. 85)

20) The more one learns of this intricate interplay of soil, altitude, weather, and the living tissues of plant and insect . . . the more the mystery deepens. (Shepherd, 1977, p. 14)

Based on Leopold (1949), beauty is a feature of the ecosystems that generates land ethics. Thus, the appreciation of this beauty becomes one of the fundamentals of lyrical nature writing. In aesthetically appreciating the landscape, meaning is given to earthly locale and in that meaning beliefs and values can be expressed and developed. In consequence, readers are invited to think differently and employ associations in novel ways (Parsons, 2008).

Table 3. The result of the analysis of Appreciation in the language of four nature writers

 

Aldo Leopold

Kathleen Jamie

Nan Shepherd

David  Abram

Feature

N

Percent

N

Percent

N

Percent

N

Percent

REACTION

N=279

N=239

N=226

N=569

impact

49

17.56%

63

26.36%

33

14.6%

106

18.63%

quality

82

29.4%

73

30.54%

55

24.34%

63

11.07%

COMPOSITION

N=279

N=239

N=226

N=569

balance

4

1.44%

3

1.25%

8

3.54%

21

3.7%

complexity

56

20.07%

34

14.22%

83

36.73%

162

28.47%

VALUATION

N=279

N=239

N=226

N=569

valuation

88

31.54%

66

27.62%

47

20.8%

217

38.14%

 

Discussion

Scholars in ecology-related fields of study should seek alternatives to dry-as-dust style and unleash their lyric imagination in their language. Lyric intelligence, lyric thinking, and lyric living are necessities for making sense of the landscape in addition to the starscape.

This study is based on the fact that language mirrors the writer's perceptual and conceptual understanding of the surrounding world. It follows that when nature lyricists employ particular verbal and visual phenomena to portray their minds, they are putting the readers in the position of experiencing empathy with the living land. By allowing access to the lyricists' conceptualization of reality, readers can deconstruct the represented embodied mind style, and adopt it themselves in their daily encounters with nature.

Heidegger (1971, p. 194) claims that "in its essence, language is neither expression nor an activity of man. Language speaks". His latter enigmatic sentence attributes agency and activity to language. Moreover, Heidegger (1971) demonstrates a shift in his thinking away from "vision-generated discourse to a discourse formed by listening" (Levin, 1993, p. 186). Evidently, language as a living entity shapes embodied experiences. The rumination of its breathing words conjures up the senses. It can create multi-sensorial encounter with more-than-human cosmos.

Heidegger (1971, p. 191) is also of the opinion that the reduction of language into products is a part of a scientific epistemology that maintains the primacy of "grammar and logic, philosophy of language and linguistics". He underscores the embodied approach to language by asserting that words in themselves constitute activities. In fact, Heidegger (1971) says:

When we go to the well, when we go through the woods, we are always already going through the word ‘well’, through the word ‘woods’, even if we do not speak the words and do not think of anything relating to language. (p. 129)

The scientific revolution demanded theresearcher to mentally withdrawn from the "the rest of nature (which was consideredto be an independently existing, objective reality) so that he couldbecome an emotionally detached, strictly dispassionate instrument for thecollection of data and for the observation of mechanical processes" (Harding, 2006, p. 33), thereby excluding emotive and multisensorial perspectives. In fact, the conventional science-based studies promoted a dialogical model of knowledge-making as a reply to the subject-object hierarchies between a disengaged knower and a passive known (Plumwood, 2002).

In the analysis of literary texts, emotion is an important key with which the thoughts of the author can be disclosed. "Emotions, cognitions, goals, action, context and so on, they all flow into one another until, the distinctions are difficult to maintain", based on Palmer (2004, p. 117). On more important notes, the whole mind is not only social but also ecological. Thoughts occur in the social context of action and interaction with other human beings as well as the breathing biosphere.

Emotions are inextricably connected to cognition. In this sense, "emotions are complex physiological–affective–cognitive responses to the physical and sociocultural environment" (Schrauf & Sanchez 2004, p. 267). Damasio (1994) demonstrates the utter dependence of rational thinking on the body's feelings. To put it differently, the mind is the body's continuous experience of perturbations unwrapping at the contact surface between itself and the palpable terrain.

 

Conclusion

Affect for nature, moral sentiment, and aesthetic emotion altogether guarantee the lyrical sensibility in English nature writing, according to the interpretation of the analysis. The writer perceives the surrounding locale, feels the overpowering emotion, and writes a book with an attempt to ignite those feelings in the minds and hearts of the readers.

In these books, the first person usage of emotion terms provides a chance to gain access to the writers’ explicit expressions of attitude. Their subjectivity-conscious language signifies the writing self as a product of not only society but also ecology.

The discourses of the nature writers are subjective, emotive, and multisensory. Consequently, they encourage slow reading which is in line with the deliberate pace of the nature. The language of these poetic and ecological discourses takes a scenic route. Emotion terms put speed on pause. Their language shows that they adopt a corporeally engaged outlook on the animate surroundings rather than a visually distanced one.

Crucially, the style of English nature writers emerges from their ideologies. The poetic and descriptive discourses of the authors signify their ecocentric or environment-centered mind style. The theocentric and anthropocentric world views which include domination are abandoned to reject and subvert the Great Chain of Being, given its internal hierarchy. The ecocentric mind style is in line with the term “deep ecology” invented by Naess (1973) who blames European and North American civilization for the arrogance of its human-centered instrumentalization of non-human nature. Apparently, deep ecology advocates the inherent worth of the more-than-human cosmos along with human beings and supports the spread of this viewpoint for restructuring eco-social lives.

The deep ecology framework (Naess, 1973) vigorously supports the recognition of the intrinsic value of the non-human sentient beings. With the increasing concern and clamor for deep ecology, it may be a necessity for future ecological discourses to respect the intrinsic value of the inhabitants of this very palpable terrain. This goal can be achieved by supplying habitats for plants and animals to lead their lives based on their nature.

 

Implications

The implications of the current study have three dimensions:

One dimensions concerns the physical environment of the English-learning classrooms. Spaces and places can "take on a symbolic significance around which identities are constituted and performed" (Hetherington 1998, p. 106).  The design of language classroom influences the feeling and behavior of learners. In effect, "the pedagogical order of the classroom is mediated in its spaces" (Lawn, 1999, p. 72). Different designed classrooms can propagate different pedagogic discourses (Kordjazi, 2013). Displays, furniture, texts, and objects in teaching spaces should encourage positive social relations and interactions with the class.

Each language class has its own ecosystem that exists with dynamism and diversity. Thus, the second dimension has to do adopting a local approach to educational decision making. In brief, external and universal set of assumptions for teaching English should be embraced along with the consideration of the sociocultural issues that surround the life of a language teacher or learner. The three suggested approaches that can deal with the ethno-cultural and ecological challenges in teaching contexts are post-method (Kumaravadivelu, 1994), in-method (Richards 1996), and complexity approach (Larsen-Freeman, 1997).

The third dimension touches on the topic of ecocomposition. Dobrin and Weisser (2002) define it as the study of the relationship between place and written discourse. Ecocomposition should be included in EFL writing classrooms in order to plant the seeds of sustainability literacy and ecological responsibility.

While the process approach to writing considers writer’s psychological functioning and ignores sociological context, the post-process approach considers the ecology of writing. Ecocomposition examines the environments in which writers write under the rubrics of culture, class, gender, race, and identity (Dobrin & Weisser, 2002). To put it differently, the post-process approach looks at the individual writer in addition to the larger systems that include the writer, the result of which is a move towards ecology.

The recognition of the spatial complexities is in need of thrusting aside the idea of detached and unrelated places and, consequently, considering how place affects the writing process. Owens (2001, p. 70) emphasizes that “local places that students, staff, and faculty go home to after leaving the university behind remain largely indivisible, supposedly unrelated to the activity of the academy”.

The use of assignments and approaches dealing with place in EFL contexts allows the learners to maintain the features of their identity which are connected to their first language. Writing about past and current places will contribute to the betterment of leaning outcomes by emphasizing the linguistics and geographic heritage of the language learners.

Cahalan (2008, p. 251) suggests the teaching of place in the writing classroom, remarking that the students must comprehend that “every place on the globe is also local”. One way to teach place writing is autobiographical writing. The teacher can ask students to bring in information regarding history, current and past social trends, important local events, economic backgrounds, and scenic attractions.

Water crisis, land degradation, air pollution, and desertification are currently the major ecological problems of Iran. Language instructors should teach English to raise awareness of Iran’s environmental issues, make learning relevant to everyday life, and green the future. Reading, discussions, and writing in English-leaning classes must engage learners in global and local concerns on nature.

 

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