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Language of Voice Hearing


Research at the UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics


Power, Control and the Language of Voice-hearing – A Findings Taster

By Zsofia Demjen, on 21 September 2017

A taster of our preliminary findings from the  Power, Control and Language of Voice-hearing project.

Certain facework patterns (politeness and impoliteness) in reports of interactions between voice-hearers and their voices can cause or contribute to distress in voice-hearers. These include (but are not limited to) the presence of large numbers of face attacks from voice to person; lack of reciprocity in the facework being reported; the hearer perceiving themselves as unable to react or respond, or resist as they wish to.

Also likely to contribute to distress, are transitivity patterns where the voices are able to affect change on the participant without conditions, while participants are only able to attempt (and often fail) to affect change on the voice under certain circumstances.

Finally, some metaphors tend to be used by people who are distressed by their voices, while those coping better use different metaphors. The key distinction between these two groups of metaphors is whether they frame experiences in ways that (dis)empower participants.

This can all be linked to the broad concept of ‘control’ (i.e. the ability to lead the life you want to lead)  and show the variety of ways in which the voices may limit a person’s sense of it.

These are only preliminary headlines of course. We’ll be able to say much more in the papers we are currently working on.


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