Scholarly article on topic 'Speaking to the Global Audience: A Case Study into the Message Transformation'

Speaking to the Global Audience: A Case Study into the Message Transformation Academic research paper on "Media and communications"

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Academic research paper on topic "Speaking to the Global Audience: A Case Study into the Message Transformation"

© Copyright by University of SS Cyril and Methodius in Trnava

Research article



Language yesterday, today, tomorrow

Vol. I. No 2 2016


Fedoriv, Ya. Speaking to the global audience: a case study into the message transformation // Lege artis. Language yesterday, today, tomorrow. The Journal of University of SS Cyril and Methodius in Trnava. Warsaw: De Gruyter Open, 2016, vol. I (2), December 2016. - p. 1-36. DOI: 10.1515/lart-2016-0009 ISSN 2453-8035

Abstract: This paper presents a pragma-rhetorical analysis of persuasive discourse performed by applying the information theory, modelling the process of public communication, and employing the classical notions of ethos, pathos, and logos in order to examine the factors that affect the communication process in the culturally and linguistically heterogeneous environment and to foreshow the meta-linguistic strategies, which could serve as global rhetorical maxims or universals.

Key words: information theory, communication model, rhetorical appeals, induced perception, cross-cultural context, communication dissonance.

1. Introduction

The art of rhetoric has a long history of development, and it has accumulated an

extensive variety of principles and precepts for structuring a public speech, choosing

vocabulary, syntax, stylistic figures of speech, visualisation devices, and the tone of

delivery, depending on the communication situation (time, place, and people involved

in the discourse) and the rhetor's intention. It has been admitted though that successful

communication cannot be ensured even if both the speaker and the audience share a

linguistic and cultural background (Fedoriv 2009: 20). The problem is aggravated in a

1 ISSN 2453-8035 DOI: 10.151Unauthenticated009

Yaroslava Fedoriv

Regardless of what form of power a society adopts, success will be with those spokespersons who will build their programme and life-course according to the understanding of the culture and the art of moral reasoning (Rozhdestvenskiy 1999).

multicultural or multiethnic context due to the disparity in the conceptual codes and cognitive frameworks of the message addresser and the addressee. Considering different contexts for the same public message and applying the empirical analysis as a method of obtaining the research data, this contribution focuses on the factors that affect the communication process in a heterogeneous cultural, linguistic, and attitudinal environment, aiming at outlining the meta-linguistic strategies, which could serve as global rhetorical maxims or universals.

2. Background studies

2.1. Public speaking viewed through the theory of information Public speaking is treated here a subset of a more general notion of human communication which, in its broadest interpretation, is defined as the act of conveying the intended message to the recipient. This process, ideally, might be imagined as a plain transfer of information to the audience by the speaker (Fig.1a), yet in reality it may appear not so smooth due to a variety of factors, including the listeners' discordant background knowledge about the topic, their receptivity to the message, the relationship and trust between the speaker and the audience, their interpretations that are influenced by their experiences, attitudes, perceptions, culture, and other individual and social causes, all of which might hinder public communication (Fig. 1b).

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Figure 1. Public speaking viewed as the ideal (a) and real (b) communicative act. Picture made by the author with the use of standard Microsoft Office gallery.

Thus, the interactional model of communication, rather than render a simplistic transfer of the message from the sender to the receiver (Fig. 2a), should take into account all the possible 'noise' factors that influence the message perception by the audience (Fig. 2b).

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Sender message


c Sender N

V }■


Figure 2. The interactional model of public communication: a) ideal; b) incorporating the 'noise' factors. Picture made by the author with the use of standard Microsoft Office graphic tools.

And yet, the latter diagram only approximates modelling public communication, as it does not comprehensively reflect all the factors influencing, and actors partaking in this complex process. In his book Communication: the study of human communication, Mortensen outlines the long history of the 'communication model' development from linear to bidirectional to multidimensional, including Aristotle's speaker-centred model dated 384-322 B.C.; De Saussure's conceptualistic circuit model of 1915; Shannon's information theory model of 1948, functional of 1951; intermediary, or gatekeeper of 1957; conceptual of 1957; Jacobsonian context-based of 1960; helical of 1967; mosaic of 1968; transactional of 1970; systemic of 1972; holographic of 1987; fractal of 1992; and ecological of 2004 (Mortensen 1972).

Although this general account suggests a great variety of other communication models, most contemporary scholars in such diverse disciplines as rhetoric, linguistics, journalism, speech, and hearing sciences, agree upon the six key constituents of communication: sender, message, receiver, medium of communication, noise, and feedback, which, with respect to the bidirectionality of the process, constitute an interactive model of speech communication (Fig. 3).

Figure 3. Six-component model of public communication: sender, message, receiver, medium of communication, noise, and feedback. Picture made by the author with the use of standard Microsoft

Office gallery.

2.2. Public speaking viewed from the rhetorical perspective

On the other hand, public communication viewed from the rhetorical perspective falls under the sequential model that reflects the process of creation and delivery of a message (OegopiB 2010: 10-11).

According to Gronbeck, Ehninger, and Monroe's model of the speechmaking process (1988: 13) and Matsko's description of the classical fivefold model of proof (2006: 9091), a speaker discovers rational (logos), emotional (pathos), and ethical (ethos) proofs (pistis), arranges the proofs strategically, clothes the ideas in clear and compelling words, memorizes the things and words, and delivers the product appropriately (Table 1).

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Table 1. The stages of the speechmaking process viewed through the classical model of proof.

After Triber (2010)

Invention Disposition Elocution & eloquence Memory Delivery

discovery arrangement style retention pronunciation

discovery by thought of those things, the truth, or verisimilitude of which renders the cause probable. orderly arrangement of the things invented. elegant adornment of speech; application of proper words and sentences to invention. firm perception by the mind of the things and words, applied to invention. management of the voice and body, conformably to the dignity of the words and things.

For the purposes of the further analysis, the three rhetorical appeals mentioned above (logos, pathos, ethos) deserve a more detailed consideration. Namely, they are defined in Aristotle's Rhetoric (1982) as artistic proofs that make up the art of rhetoric. These proofs include ethos (character), pathos (emotion), and logos (logic), which provide resources of communication that are available to the public speaker or persuader.

Logos has numerous definitions, but usually it refers to the words used, logical content or reasoning, or thought expressed in words. It refers to any attempt to engage the intellect, the general meaning of "logical argument." As outlined by Callaway (2012), in order to appeal to logic (logos), a speaker uses theoretical, abstract language; denotative meanings/reasons; literal and historical analogies; definitions; factual data and statistics; quotations; citations from experts and authorities; informed opinions. As a result, the speaker evokes a cognitive, rational response from the audience.

Ethos refers to the trustworthiness of the sender of the message. To develop ethos, the language of the message should be correspondent to the audience and subject, with the appropriate level of vocabulary and correct grammar; the presentation should be restrained, sincere, fair minded (Ibid.). These demonstrate the author's reliability, competence, and respect for the audience's ideas and values through trustworthy and suitable use of support and general accuracy.

Pathos is related to the words pathetic, sympathy and empathy. As Callaway points it out, whenever we accept a claim based on how it makes us feel without fully analyzing the rationale behind the claim, we are reacting to pathos. In order to appeal to emotion (pathos), the speaker should employ vivid, concrete, emotionally loaded language; connotative meanings; emotional examples; vivid descriptions; narratives of emotional events; emotional tone; figurative language. This evokes the audience's emotional response. Appeals to pathos "touch a nerve and compel people to not only listen, but to also take the next step and act in the world" (Callaway 2012).

It is estimated that, depending on the rhetorical situation, people may often be persuaded by the ethical argument in the first place; in the second place, by the pathetic argument, which takes their feelings into account; and only in the third place by the argument from logic (Fedoriv 2004: 281-283).

Hence, viewing public communication through the prism of the theory of information (Fig. 3) welded with the classical model of proof (Table 1) we may render the public speaking process as follows.

1) The orator is regarded as the sender, i.e. the addresser who encodes and transmits the message - according to Cicero and Quintilian - through the rhetorical stages of invention (creation of a plan, idea, aim), disposition (choice and arrangement of the corresponding materials), elocution and eloquence (embodiment of the content in the language forms of expression), memory (a faculty of the mind, whose "operations, like the other processes of the pure intellect, can only be exhibited in speech by the means of figurative language; by images derived from the senses, and addressed to them" (Adams 1810)), and action (pronunciation, public delivery of a speech).

(2) The public speech is thence the message: the information that is exchanged between the orator (the sender) and the audience (the receiver).

(3) The audience receives the message and decodes it into its mental reflection.

(4) The medium refers to the channels in which the message is carried. Generally, messages can be carried to a receiver via oral communication, written communication, and visual communication channels. Public speaking, as a rule, is performed orally, yet its recorded samples can be presented in both written and oral (audio or video) formats.

(5) Noise has a direct effect on communication because of its ability to impair accurate transmission of the message being sent. In public speaking, the noise factors may refer to the linguistic (e.g., a shared/not shared thesaurus) and extralinguistic (physical, cultural, social, etc.) environment in which the communication process is taking place.

(6) Feedback refers to the interpretation of the message and depends on the audience's opinion, attitude, the level of comprehension, and perceived meaning of the message. Feedback thus completes the cycle of the communication model and introduces another rhetorical stage, that of relaxation, which implies self-analysis of the communicative successes and failures.

2.3. Public speaking in the aspect of pragmatics

Our next step in approaching the research purpose will be to narrow the general definition of public speaking to the working term employed in this study.

In an attempt to define public speaking, I find it pointful to quote Pocheptsov, who underlined that "the definitions themselves have only that meaning which the researcher wants to protect, study, and implement" (Qonen^B 1999: 19). Thus it is expedient for our study purposes to put forward the definition of communication specified by Miller (1966: 92) as intentional: "Those situations in which a source transmits a message to a receiver with conscious intent to affect the latter's behaviors". Referring to one of Grice's central claims, Wilson and Sperber (2002: 249) claim that an essential feature of most human communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is the

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expression and recognition of intentions.

It should be noted, however, that while the production-related components of public speaking - mediated either orally or in writing and regarded through the prism of the communication model - have been extensively discussed by the researchers of public speaking (with the message including sound, lexis, grammar, stylistic arrangement, and the speaker's linguistic portrait), it is the perception-related part of the communication model that has been overlooked.

The necessity to look more precisely at the receiver's interpretation of a message can be illustrated by a few well-known examples of ambiguous perceptual patterns. Perception is how we perceive things physically, mentally, emotionally, and cognitively. Our brain uses neural impulses to create experiences of vision, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. For instance, visual perception is a fused function of our eyes and brain. Depending on what prevails in our mind at a certain moment, we may see different things. Namely, the images below can be broken down into shapes and colours differently and thus show that visual perceptions may depend on what we focus first on: the background or the foreground, on specific shapes or individual features. For contrasting images, we may perceive the background as what is drawn in the dark colour and the foreground as the shapes in light colour, or vice versa. For example, Fig.4 (Schiffman 2001) is a reversible picture, which may be interpreted both as the profiles of human faces and the columns of the balcony banister.

flit Sill

Figure 4. Ambiguous visual perceptions. Source: Schiffman (2001)

Other visual examples include orthographic projections of three-dimensional objects -Fig. 5a (Shiman and McLean 1991), impossible objects - Fig. 5b (Deceptology 2010), optical illusions - Fig. 5c, d (Animal ambiguity illusions 2012).

Figure 5. Ambiguous visual perceptions: a) Orthographic projections of a chair. Picture available at; b) An impossible trident. Picture available at c) Bear vs seal. Picture available at; d) Rabbit vs duck. Picture available at

It should be noted about the duck/rabbit ambiguity (Fig. 5d) that it can prove a biased nature of human perception. A test was conducted at The art of stylistics PALA 2009 conference in Roosevelt Academy, Middelburg, the Netherlands. (Fedoriv 2009: 20). The participants of the session were divided into two groups, one exposed to a picture of a duck (Fig. 6a) and the other to a rabbit (Fig. 6b). Then both groups were shown a duck/rabbit figure (Fig. 5d) and asked to write down what they saw.

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Figure 6. Animal pictures used in a biased perception study (Fedoriv 2009: 20).

The responses in both groups for the most part coincided with the picture the participants had seen first.

This experiment shows that the audiences' perceptions can be induced by preliminarily exposing them to a certain type of information that they believe is true. Then the following piece of information will tend to be perceived in accordance with the previously given cognitive stimulus. Apparently, we may hypothesize that this psychological feature will similarly manifest itself in oral communication.

Ultimately, the audience's response to public speeches will depend on the specifics of deciphering and the ways of interpreting the message, which are influenced by the 'noise' factors such as varying linguistic, experiential, social, cultural, and other local and global contexts. Deserving special empirical research, these factors will delineate a specific area of the case study discussed in this paper and make the methodological ground to interpret the linguistic phenomena behind communication components and their interaction viewed in the context of the public discourse, which brings us to the next section of this study.

2.4. Public speaking viewed in the cross-cultural context

Sperber and Wilson (1986: 15), outlining their cognitively-based Relevance Theory, regard the notion of 'context' as "a psychological construct, a subset of the hearer's assumptions about the world". Accordingly, communication not only requires encoding, transfer, and decoding processes, but also, as Gutt specifies, "crucially

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involves inference" (Gutt 1998). In conformity with our hypothesis mentioned above, the same message can convey opposite meanings depending "not only on its semantic content, but on the context, in which it is interpreted or, more technically, on the contextual information, with which it is inferentially combined" (Gutt 1998: 42). Gutt treats the context as a wide set of premises used in interpreting the message: from scientific hypotheses to religious beliefs and from individual anecdotal memories to general cultural assumptions; it also includes the surrounding text called 'co-text' (Ibid.). In the final account, as Gutt emphasizes, the success of communication depends on the audience's using the speaker-intended context.

In other words, the sender can communicate ideas effectively by taking into account all aspects of the context, which makes it possible to regard the communication process from different angles, such as culture, country, social setting; external and internal factors. The receiver, likewise, is influenced by the context through the internal and external stimuli (experience, education, confidence, opinion, attitude, emotions, likes, dislikes). A change of the context, as Gutt underlines, can change the whole meaning of the message; moreover, the wrong contextual information can hinder the communication endeavour (Gutt 1998: 42-49). An attempt to illustrate this change of the message perception will be made in the following case study.

3. Case study

3.1. The Message Encoding

The rhetorical message under analysis is the global climate change brought to public attention in An inconvenient truth (2006), considered to be one of the most successful American documentaries in recent years directed by Davis Guggenheim, starring former Vice President Al Gore, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner. The film is aimed to increase awareness of the planetary crisis. Frommer, although positioning the film as a political performance, still admits its argumentative character based on scientific proofs and life experiences:

Following an unprecedented model, An inconvenient truth relies on a slide presentation that alternates informative sequences of images, videos, and commentaries with more militant passages from the speaker, sprinkled with stories of the hero's personal life. Rather than simply dryly and mechanically enumerating facts, the film plays both on emotion and on the scientific character of its argument. The staging oscillates between an "objective"presentation of facts and data, certified by the projection of slides, and a manifest temptation to dramatize the argument with many incidents and anecdotes (Frommer 2012: 118-124).

Despite the obvious scepticism, Frommer's one-paragraph review objectively outlines the plot and design of the film, acknowledging that Guggenheim "made a successful movie out of a slide show" centred around the idea "that global warming was the most important issue" (Ibid.: 119). Based on this acknowledgement by a sceptic, we can assume that the message was appropriately encoded for the intended audience, which perceived it adequately, regardless of the spectators' personal attitudes.

At the same time, the actual response split between the supporters of the climate change idea and its critics. Particularly, in the native context the message perception happened to be shaped mainly by the viewers' political affiliation. Namely, an environmental study shows that, when considered by party, the number of respondents saying that the effects of global warming had already begun, increased from 52% in 1997 to 78% in 2004 for Democrats and, on the contrary, decreased from 48% in 1997 to 42% in 2004 for Republicans (Dunlap & McCright 2008). Therefore, for the sake of objective examination, it seems more expedient to analyze the message perception by the audiences not directly engaged in the Republican versus Democrat debate.

3.2. Message decoding 3.2.1. Translation

A message sent across borders requires the addressee's possessing a working knowledge of the source language or the translator's interpreting the original text into the target language.

Strictly speaking, there is no uniform definition of translation. Referring to its main purpose, "the translation is intended to restate in one language what someone else said

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or wrote in another language" (Gutt 1998: 46).

In practice, it appears to be an art, the process and product of which is often defined by the addressee's background knowledge, pragmatic factors, ideologies, and taboos, by what can be said explicitly and what is presupposed, by location and time and by the translator's skill to coherently render the message.

The interpretive resemblance is what Gutt characterizes as "the core relation between the translation and the original" (Gutt 1998: 48). Functionally, it is supposed to perform the same pragmatic role, "to have the same emotional and persuasive charge of the original" (Mulien 2009), and to influence the audience in the same way as the original.

In other words, a translation is supposed to be equivalent to the original in order to evoke in the receivers of the translation the same feelings as in the receivers of the original, given that "the price and hence the quality of translations should be commensurate with the value attached to an original, which is used for the same purpose and with the importance attributed to it in the process of communication" (Sager 1983: 121).

However, if the audience's cultural background is other than that envisaged by the original communicator, i.e. when the translator is "quoting the original 'out of context'," a communication attempt may fail. Gutt terms such instances, where a text is presented to an audience with a context different from the original, 'secondary communication situations' (Gutt 1998: 49; cf. Gutt 1991: 72ff).

There are, however, certain ways, e.g., introductory remarks, or comments, in which the communicator can inform the audience of how the message has to be understood (Gutt 1998: 49). Without such remarks or comments, attempting to bring the audience to a foreign context of the original text produces the same mismatch as trying to transplant the original text into the target audience's context: in both situations, the

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consistency and authenticity of communication become deficient. This is especially true when the differences in context are significant.

Having postulated this prerequisite, we assume that it is applicable to both written and spoken discourse, including the audio- and video-rendering of the original. Speaking of the cinematograph, a "second-hand" viewer is subject to misperception if the film is subtitled and/or dubbed into the target language by a context-insensitive translator.

Thus, when considering An inconvenient truth brought to the Ukrainian audience, one may spot a number of translation flaws, starting from the very first minutes.

The movie begins with a stage announcement of Al Gore's presentation, followed by Gore's self-introduction: "I am Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States of America." In the original movie, the listeners start laughing: they spot and appreciate the mild self-irony of "used to be the next president' (Fig, 7).

The voice-over renders this opening phrase in Ukrainian with no account of "used to," producing wrong contextual information: "Я - Ел top, майбутшй президент Сполучених Штатгв" ("I am Al Gore, the future president of the U.S.").

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flatti ma naHoee, flan En rop.

6yB HacTynHmvt npe3MfleHTOM CnonyMeHnx LLlTaTiB AMepiiKH.

SI He flyMato, mo i4e fly»e cMiuiHo.

Figure 7. An inconvenient truth (2006). The pictures are snapshots of the images, taken by the author, from the licensed video copy of the movie: a) 00.02.13; b) 00.02.18; c) 00.02.25; d)


Viewing the film copy with the subtitles off, the Ukrainian audience starts laughing too, yet this reaction is induced partly by a developed habit of catching the sitcom-trendified background laughter and partly by a sceptical perception of the misinterpreted message (and thence, the speaker). Indeed, the translator's seemingly small inaccuracy (dropping "used to") diametrically distorts the original meaning. While in the original "used to" implies that Al Gore, at the moment of speaking, had no more intention of running for president, the translation suggests quite the opposite, inferring repeatedly failed attempts and thus damaging the speaker's credibility, undermining the rapport between him and the Ukrainian spectators, and disfiguring further perception of the appeal sent through the movie to the global audience.

The survey was conducted in English among the fifth-year university students of the National University of "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy", Kyiv, Ukraine, 96% of whom self-

assessed their level of listening comprehension in English as "good" or "excellent". The students' original responses are quoted here without editing. The questionnaire included both open-ended and controlled (multiple choice) questions to both elicit free associations and obtain statistical data. Among the Ukrainian viewers' responses there are examples that illustrate this issue:

Q: What do you perceive as the author's specific purpose?

A: "Manipulation to get voices on elections with help of Global Warming issues". The impression of "emotional manipulation" develops in a subsequent comment: Q: List the most effective, in your opinion, rhetorical devices used by the speaker.

A: "He mostly bases his argument in emotional appeal. Gore talks about his son's horrific accident, so that his audience understands that he is a father who cares about the next generations. He wants us to think that he has faced something that made everything in his life clearer, and so he is a person to be trusted. He also mentions some scare things that may happen if global warming won't be stopped."

Although such responses do not exceed 18.5% of those who watched the dubbed or subtitled movie, the figure itself is the evidence that the global receivers do not unanimously share the sender's concerns, the translator's poor work being one factor, among others, contributing to the denial of the problem. In other words, 'interlingual translation' (after Jakobson), instead of transmitting the original message, can in some instances make it digress.

3.2.2. Interpretation

From the aforesaid it becomes obvious that a correct (speaker-intended) perception of a message is rooted in the inferential nature of human communication and is highly

context-dependent. At the same time, the original communicator might be primarily concerned for the message to be accepted in the shared context (i.e. the context, which the original audience is assumed to have) and is rarely concerned whether the text would be applicable to a different context.

Such appears to be Al Gore's warning about the planetary crisis, which has not been perceived and accepted as intended by international audiences, and we envisage the cause of rejection of his message far beyond the language barriers or translators' mistakes. Our survey of the viewers' responses suggests, for instance, that Ukrainian spectators do not sense the urgency of the global appeal because they do not identify themselves with Al Gore's direct audience (specifically, when he calls on "We as a nation" or "We Americans"). Responses from 67% viewers who did not associate themselves with Gore's direct audience included the following comments:

Q (open): To what extent do you personally feel part of the speaker's audience?

A1: "Al Gore says that it was America to win the WWII. And what about us? Our grandparents who fought against fascism and died in WWII? Do they count? I feel neglected."

A2: "I feel only partly belonging to the audience due to the fact that the speaker addresses his message firstly to Americans."

A3: "Completely, though he sometimes addresses only Americans."

A4: "I am a part of this planet and I care about that."

A5: "It was hard for me to reckon myself to the speaker's audience so Ijust agree with the importance of the problem but not with reasons and solutions."

A6: "I feel the necessity of the problem and I perceive the information given. Still I don't feel like a part of the intended audience."

Such perceptions of "exclusion" did not, however, determine the overall attitude to Gore's appeal:

Q: To what extent do you share the author's concerns?

A1 (controlled): "I am concerned about the issue of the global climate crisis and I want to be a part of the problem solution." (51.9%)

A2 (controlled): "I feel it is important, but I believe the problem should be solved by specialists in the corresponding field." (29.6%)

A3 (controlled): "I do not care." (0%)

A4 (controlled): "There is no problem with the climate, it is just a hoax made in order to attract attention and/or money." (0%)

A5 (controlled): "Other." (18.5%)

A6 (open - "other"): "I do not feel the need to act because we expect that Americans will save the world once again, as they always do in their 'super-hero' movies."

Such results agree with the Social Judgment Theory (SJT) proposed by Carolyn Sherif, Muzafer Sherif, and Carl Hovland (Levine et al. 2016): a communicated message is perceived and evaluated depending on current attitudes. The theory suggests that upon hearing a message, individuals consider it according to personal judgments. Their 'attitude scale' reflects three zones: the 'latitude of acceptance', the 'latitude of rejection',

and the 'latitude of non-commitment'. Correspondingly, the audience's reactions to a communicated message correlate with the SJT Five Principles:

(1) Individual categories of judgment define how people evaluate incoming information, with possible responses ranging from "absolutely not" to "most certainly."

(2) When evaluating incoming information, the individuals' treatments, or latitudes, range from the latitude of acceptance, shaped by the attitude of supporters of the cause, to the latitude of rejection, defined by the attitude of the opponents. The latitude of non-commitment goes with no opinion or particular attitude.

(3) The individual involvement with the issue defines the degree of the latitudes.

(4) Incoming information tends to be altered to fit people's judgments: If an advocated position falls within the latitude of acceptance, people accept and adapt the new information and tend to change their position. Conversely, if the message contradicts the individual's initial attitudes, it will be rejected.

(5) Persuasion is possible if the discrepancies between the individual's 'anchor' and the persuasive message are small and not contrasting, allowing for the consideration of the communicated message as such (Levine et al. 2016).

The Social Judgment Theory in action is demonstrated in a diagram by Levine et al (2016) (Fig. 8), reflecting how the incoming information is processed depending on personal judgments. Thus, when the internal processes of an individual's judgment of a communicated message are considered from the SJT position, it becomes apparent that the rhetorical appeal, even if translated literally, undergoes individually and culturally determined interpretations and transformations.

When communication exceeds the borders of the initial context, the differences in

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reasoning and the civilizational disparity between the sender and the receiver become a crucial factor that amplifies the effect of rejection or non-commitment. The need for the message adaptation to the audience's concerns, needs, and values becomes obvious, which will be discussed in the next section.

Figure 8. Social judgment process of message perception, after Sherif (Levine et al. 2016). Licensed under a Creative commons attribution share-alike 3.0 license.

3.3 Relaxation: message encoding revisited

Proceeding from Aristotle's principles of "artistic proofs" and the SJT principles of message perception, Pregen (2014) offers the strategies of adapting persuasive messages to audience attitudes, distinguishing between seven attitude-bound approaches.

(1) If the audience members are strongly in favour of the communicated message, then they may be ready to act, and the speaker's strategy will be to provide practical solutions, with the emphasis on motivating them rather than informing and reasoning.

(2) The audiences who are in favour may already share many of the speaker's concerns and beliefs, so the message sender should clarify and reinforce existing beliefs and attitudes to lead them to a course of action.

(3) Those who are mildly in favour may be inclined to accept the addresser's view, but with little commitment. The strategy to persuade them will be based on strengthening positive beliefs by emphasizing supporting reasons.

(4) The audience members who are neither in favour nor opposed may stick to the non-commitment latitude because they can be uniformed, neutral, or apathetic. The speaker's strategy will respectively be to emphasize information relevant to belief or action, reasons relevant to a belief or action, or the seriousness of the problem and the importance of the proposition.

(5) Those who are mildly opposed may question the speaker's credibility or have doubts about the truthfulness of the communicated idea. The speaker should provide reasons and evidence that will help them to consider the advocated position.

(6) If the audience members are opposed, their beliefs, values, or attitudes may be contrary to those of the sender's. The persuasive strategy will be to emphasize sound arguments and concentrate on shifting beliefs rather than on moving to action. The exposition should be objective in order to avoid arousing hostility.

(7) The hostile audience members may be totally unreceptive to the discussed position, so the speaker should attempt to show common ground between the two sides and try to get the listeners to understand the idea.

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Regarding Al Gore's message perception by the Ukrainian viewers, the initial attitudes towards the issue of the global climate change fluctuated between categories (2) and (4), as compared to the full range of the persuasive strategies that could be detected in An inconvenient truth, judging by the content and the impact of logical, emotional, and ethical arguments and evidence. Hence the strategic weight of the message was dispersed and the ultimate impact diminished. In particular, the practical recommendations on reducing the energy consumption (strategy 1) fall out of the Ukrainian context due to apparent dissimilarities of the source and target life styles. The clarification and reinforcement of beliefs (strategy 2), as well as emphasis on the seriousness of the problem and development of supporting reasons (strategy 3) do not seem to lead a Ukrainian viewer to a course of action because of the above mentioned emphasis on "We Americans" being perceived as exclusion. Among the Ukrainian viewers who participated in the survey there were none openly opposed / hostile, so the personal stories (the son's accident; the frog parable; a character from The Simpsons) or appeals to ethical issues (unfair presidential elections; denial of the moral responsibilities towards the planet) aimed at the viewers' considering the issue and shifting their views (strategies 5-7) were perceived by Ukrainians as entertaining or manipulative components. As a result, despite the solid information relevant to the subject matter, the logical reasons, the emphasis on seriousness of the problem and the importance of the proposition (strategy 4), Al Gore's call to action remained practically unanswered. Ukrainian environmental initiatives, if any, owe it to volunteers' and NGO's efforts rather than the appeal of An inconvenient truth whose total audience in Ukraine has not been really abundant.

On the contrary, this very film was proved highly valuable by members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which testifies to the fact that they shared the civilizational context and the concerns of the movie creators. It is notable that Al Gore's Nobel Lecture delivered in Oslo on the 10th of December 2007 does not contain the component of exclusion ("We Americans"); instead, the message is now oriented towards the global community:

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We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency - a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst - though not all - of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly (Gore 2007).

3.4. Message transfer through other media

As it has been mentioned above, Al Gore's global warning was reiterated in his Nobel Prize lecture to the live audience. It should be noted that the movie itself was built on a cycle of lectures, which Al Gore developed and presented in hundreds of countries trying to raise people's awareness of the planetary crisis.

The idea to address the world audience and communicate the message about the planetary crisis originated from the author's student observations and interest in his college professor's studies of the temperature rise and the resulting climate change. The initial slide presentation underwent numerous adaptations and modifications based on the audience response. Thus, the movie communicates the message in a slightly milder way due to the inclusion of Gore's personal life stories and the modification of some illustrations of the issue.

In particular, the problem of global warming was illustrated in the slide show by the classic story about an old science experiment. When a frog jumps into a pot of boiling water, it immediately jumps out again because it instantly recognizes the danger. Yet the same frog, when put in a pot of lukewarm water that is being slowly brought to a boil, will simply stay in the water until it is boiled (Fig. 9a).

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Figure 9. An "inconvenient message" adaptation: a) a frog sitting in water slowly brought to a boil; b) the frog rescued by a human. The pictures are screen shots of the images, taken by the author, from the YouTube video copy of the clip at https ://

In a subsequent book of the same name, based on both the slideshow and the movie, the author recounts this episode about the frog, pointing out to a different ending to the last sentence: "until the frog is boiled" has been changed to "until the frog is rescued" (Fig. 9b), after one of his listeners came up to him expressing concern for the fate of the frog. "I finally learned the importance of rescuing the frog" (Gore 2006: 294). He continues, expanding the explanation, as compared to the movie:

But of course the larger point of the story is that our collective "nervous system," through which we recognize an impending danger to our survival, is similar to the frog's. If we experience a significant change in our circumstances gradually and slowly, we are capable of sitting still and failing to recognize the seriousness of what is happening to us until it's too late. Sometimes, like the frog, we only react to a sudden jolt, a dramatic and speedy change in our circumstances that sets off our alarm bells (Ibid.: 294-245).

There is also a more realistic depiction of the melting icebergs and the Polar bear issue in the book as compared to the movie. The motion picture contains an animated episode showing the bear trying to catch the ice floe (Fig. 10), suggesting (like in a traditional fairy tale) that it will finally manage to get out of water. The book contains a real photo of the Polar bears leaning on each other on a thawing block of ice. No fairy tale ending is implied.

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Figure 10. An inconvenient truth: icebergs & Polar bears. The pictures are screen shots of the images, taken by the author, from the YouTube video copy of the clip at 1WonnNAY

Referring back to biasing the rabbit/duck perception study, it is easy to spot Gore's using the technique of induced perception in the original frog story (say, we will be sitting still like the frog until we are boiled) and in the book depiction of the Polar bears fate (the reader is truly involved and alarmed by the prediction that the coastal cities, including New York, will drown if the icebergs continue melting). It should be admitted that the power of this persuasive tool is lost in the movie after making the animal stories less dramatic. And yet - with its dynamism and vividness, rich prosodic and rhetorical devices, emotional involvement and visual effects - the film makes quite a strong impact on the viewers leaving them with a lasting impression.

A final important observation that should be mentioned concerning the differences of the message adaptation to different communication media is that the three modes of persuasion - logos, pathos, and ethos - are manifested to a different degree in the three modes of communication: Al Gore's lecture, movie, and written text. Namely, the estimation of the ratio of the logical, ethical, and emotional tools of influence on the audience as identified in the different modi of communication - writing (book), sound (Nobel lecture) and audio-visual, or kinesthetic (movie) - makes it possible to outline the general characteristics of Gore's public appeal as the correlation of certain media of communication with the corresponding dominant rhetorical techniques applied in order to influence the audience (Table 2).

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Table 2. Modes of persuasion vs modes of communication in An inconvenient truth

(Fedoriv 2010: 82)

Mode of persuasion Mode of communication^~\^ Logos Ethos Pathos

Visual +++ + +

Auditory + +++ +

Kinaesthetic + + +++

Namely, the rhetoric of the printed text correlates with the dominance of logical reasoning. Here the emotional background of the text - and thence the prosody the oratorical appeal - is partly or entirely subordinated to the emotional state of the reader and the prosody of his/her "inner voice."

The auditory means of communication is characterized by the dominant ethical component of addressing the message to the recipient.

The strongest impact on the audience is produced when the message is accompanied by the dynamic visual support. The documentary is characterized by the utterly dominant prosody of the speaker, high emotionality, and abundant use of the emotional means of influence.

Thus, the analysis shows that all the three factors - logical, ethical, and emotional - are integrated when operating in the public discourse; however, depending on the mode of communication, one of them becomes more prominent, dominating over the other two. That is to say, different modes of communication can be considered as correlates of corresponding tools of public influence.

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4. Conclusion

To sum up, having focused the research in the area of audience attitudes and social judgement, we can infer that in the context of the widened horizons of communication, a rhetorical appeal, even translated literally, undergoes distortions due to individual and civilizational disparities between the message addresser and addressee. The performed analysis testifies to the fact that communication dissonance originates from different cultural perceptions and interpretations of a proper way to communicate intentions, develop relations, and apply rhetorical strategies.

A case study of Albert Gore's public appeal from the angle of pragmatic potential of the mode of communication (book, movie, live interaction) has shown that the preferential choice among the fundamental aspects of rhetorical proof (logos, ethos, pathos) positively correlates with the primary communication channel. In terms of the rhetorical techniques of argumentation, a speech should not only reflect the indirect arguments represented by ethos and pathos, but it must have a direct argument: logos. As we can see, to accomplish his task, the author of the analysed speech did not just operate with pathos, ethos, or logos alone. Al Gore used them in unison to create a wholesome message, yet with different prominence in different modes of communication. Pathos was used most vividly in the video documentary by addressing the audience's feelings, needs, and emotions with vivid examples and stylistic devices. Ethos, or character and credibility, although in a subtle manner, was displayed in lectures by rendering the debate with the global warming opponents who labelled the climate change discourse as a mere political action. Logical sense was most eloquently exhibited to the listeners in the book throughout the narration of the scientific facts and statistical data.

It has been proven by the survey analysis that in order to succeed when addressing the message to the global audience, the rhetor should also consider the cultural diversity. This implies being aware of different values and lifestyles, using supporting materials that correspond to the audience's cultural expectations, avoiding ambiguity, limiting

ethnocentric references and examples, and understanding that icons are not icons everywhere (Zielinski 2008).

The study has revealed and tested the pragmatic potential of using the technique of induced perception of the message by the audience, based on the phenomenon of foregrounding certain information, with the implied inferences, which the audience would be likely to agree upon.

Further research in this area, considering cognitive and cultural aspects of public appeals and applying contrastive methodology, will specify the factors that influence the communication process in a culturally heterogeneous environment. It is hoped that a better understanding of pragmatic and cognitive features of communication will enable public speakers to increase the likelihood of success in their persuasive attempts.


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Contact data:

Yaroslava Fedoriv,





(Philology), Professor, Language National of "Kyiv-

Mohyla Academy", 2, Hryhoriya Skovorody St., Kyiv, 04655, Ukraine. e-mail:

Field of interest:

Rhetoric, public communication, discourse studies, phonology, phonosemantics, cognitive phonetics.

Résumé in English

This paper presents a pragma-rhetorical analysis of persuasive discourse performed by applying the information theory, modelling the process of communication, and employing the classical notions of ethos, pathos, and logos in order to examine the persuasive potential of The inconvenient truth movie (2006) and study its impact on a non-native audience. Considering different contexts and different modi of communication (the movie, the book of the same name, the Nobel lecture) for the same rhetorical message, and employing empirical study as a method of obtaining the research data, this contribution focuses on the factors that affect the communication

process in a heterogeneous cultural, linguistic, and attitudinal environment, with the research objective to foreshow the meta-linguistic strategies which could serve as global rhetorical maxims or universals. The study has revealed and tested the pragmatic potential of using the technique of induced perception of the message by the audience. This technique is based on the phenomenon of foregrounding certain information, with the implied inferences, which the audience would be likely to make. A case study of Albert Gore's public appeal in his "The inconvenient truth" from the angle of pragmatic potential of the mode of communication (the movie, the book, the live lecture) has shown that the preferential choice among the fundamental aspects of rhetorical proof (correspondingly: pathos, logos, ethos) positively correlates with the primary communication channel. The performed analysis testifies to the fact that communication dissonance originates from different cultural perceptions and interpretations of a proper way to communicate intentions, develop relations, and apply rhetorical strategies. It has also been proven by the survey analysis that in order to succeed, the rhetor should take into account the contextual and cultural diversity when addressing the message to the global audience.

Key words: information theory, communication model, rhetorical appeals, induced perception, cross-cultural context, communication dissonance.

Résumé in German

In diesem Artikel wird eine pragmatisch-rhetorische Analyse der argumentativen Rede durch Anwendung der Informationstheorie, Modellierung des Kommunikationsprozesses und durch Gebrauch der klassischen Begriffe ethos, pathos und logos durchgeführt. Das Ziel dieser Analyse ist die Erforschung des persuasiven Potentials des Films "Eine unbequeme Wahrheit" (2006) und die Erkundung seiner Wirkung auf ein anderssprachiges Publikum. Unter Beachtung verschiedener Kontexte und diverser Kommunikationsmodi zu demselben Inhalt (Film, gleichnamiges Buch, Nobel-Vortrag) und unter Anwendung der empirischen Analyse als Methode zur Gewinnung der experimentellen Angaben liegt der Fokus dieser Forschung auf den

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Faktoren, die den Kommunikationsprozess in einer sprachlich und kulturell heterogenen Umwelt beeinflussen, mit dem Ziel metalinguistische Strategien herauszufinden, die als Globalprinzipien oder Universalien der rhetorischen Kommunikation dienen könnten. Während der Forschung wurde das pragmatische Potential der induzierten Wahrnehmung einer Nachricht vom Publikum ausprobiert. Diese Technik basiert auf dem Phänomen, bestimmte Information zu präsentieren, welche eine hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit "vorprogrammierter" Schlussfolgerungen beinhaltet, die das Publikum ziehen sollte. Die Untersuchung des Vortrages von Al Gore in "Eine unbequemen Wahrheit" zeigte, in Bezug auf das pragmatische Potential des Kommunikationsmodus (Film, Buch, Live-Vortrag), dass die vorwiegende Wahl der rhetorischen Argumentation (entsprechend: pathos, logos, ethos) mit dem Primärkanal der Informationsverbreitung positiv korreliert. Die ausgeführte Untersuchung zeigt, dass die kommunikative Dissonanz aufgrund unterschiedlicher kultureller Vorstellungen und Interpretationen entsteht, und zwar im Hinsicht darauf, was als richtiger Ausdruck der Absichten, der Entwicklung der Beziehungen und Anwendung der rhetorischen Strategien gilt. Durch die Umfrageergebnisse wurde außerdem belegt, dass der Erfolg eines Redners vor dem globalen Publikum nur unter Berücksichtigung der Vielfalt von Kontexten und Kulturen erreicht werden kann.

Stichwörter: Informationstheorie, Kommunikationsmodell, rhetorische Verfahren, induzierte Wahrnehmung, kulturübergreifender Kontext, kommunikative Dissonanz.

Résumé in French

Cet article présente une analyse pragma-rhétorique du discours persuasif effectuée en appliquant la théorie de l'information, en modélisant le processus de communication et en employant les notions classiques d'ethos, de pathos et de logos afin d'examiner le potentiel persuasif du film "La vérité gênante" (2006) et d'étudier son impact sur le public non indigène. Considérant les contexts et modes différents de communication (le film, le livre du même nom, la conférence Nobel) pour le même message rhétorique et utilisant l'analyse empirique comme méthode d'obtention des données de recherche,

cette contribution se concentre sur les facteurs qui affectent le processus de la communication dans un environnement culturel, linguistique et d'attitude hétérogène, l'objectif de la recherche étant de présenter les stratégies méta-linguistiques qui pourraient servir de maximes ou d'universaux rhétoriques globaux. L'étude a révélé et testé le potentiel pragmatique de l'utilisation de la technique de perception induite du message par le public. La technique reposant sur le phénomène de mise en avant de certaines informations, avec les inférences implicites que le public serait susceptible de faire. Une étude de cas de l'appel public d'Albert Gore dans son "La vérité gênant" sous l'angle du potentiel pragmatique du mode de communication (le film, le livre, la conférence en direct) a montré que le choix préférentiel parmi les aspects fondamentaux de la preuve rhétorique (correspondant: pathos, logos, ethos) se corrèle positivement avec le canal de communication primaire. L'analyse réalisée témoigne du fait que la dissonance de la communication provient des perceptions et des interprétations culturelles différentes d'une manière appropriée de communiquer des intentions, de développer des relations et d'appliquer des stratégies rhétoriques. Sur la base de l'analyse d'enquête on a également prouvé que, pour réussir, le rhéteur devrait tenir compte de la diversité contextuelle et culturelle en cas d'adressant le message à l'audience globale.

Mots-clés: théorie de l'information, modèle de communication, appels rhétoriques, perception induite, contexte interculturel, dissonance de la communication.

Résumé in Russian

Эта статья представляет собой прагма-риторический анализ аргументационной

речи путём определения и применения теории информации, моделирования

процесса коммуникации, а также с использованием классических понятий этос,

пафос и логос с целью исследовать убеждающий потенциал фильма "Неудобная

правда" (2006) и проанализировать его влияние на иноязычную аудиторию.

Принимая во внимание различные контексты и различные модусы

коммуникации для одного и того же риторического сообщения, а также 35 ISSN 2453-8035 DOI: 10.1515/lart-2016-0009

используя эмпирический анализ как метод получения экспериментальных данных, это исследование сосредоточено на факторах, влияющих на процесс коммуникации в гетерогенной среде по культуре, языку и установкам, с целью начертить мета-лингвистические стратегии, которые могли бы послужить в качестве глобальных риторических максим или универсалий. В ходе исследования был выявлен и апробирован прагматический потенциал использования техники индуцированного восприятия сообщения аудиторией, основанный на явлении выдвижения определённой информации на первый план, с высокой вероятностью предполагаемых умозаключений, которые воспримет аудитория. Тематическое исследование публичного обращения Альберта Гора с точки зрения прагматического потенциала способа общения (книга, кино, живое взаимодействие) показало, что преимущественный выбор основных инструментов риторического доказательства (логос, этос, пафос) положительно коррелирует с первичным каналом коммуникации. Проведенный анализ свидетельствует о том, что коммуникативный диссонанс восходит к различным культурным представлениям и интерпретациям того, что считать надлежащим выражением намерений, развитием отношений и применением риторических стратегий. Кроме того, было доказано с помощью анализа результатов опроса, что для того, чтобы добиться успеха, ритор должен учитывать контекстное и культурное разнообразие, адресуя своё сообщение глобальной аудитории.

Ключевые слова: теория информации, коммуникативная модель, риторические приёмы, индуцированное восприятие, межкультурный контекст, коммуникативный диссонанс.

Article was received by the editorial board 3.01.17; Reviewed 8.01.17. and 9.01.17. Similarity Index 10%.