Persuasion and Emphatic Devices in Bartolomé Martínez`s Memoria (1862)
Persuasión y mecanismos de énfasis en Memoria (1862) de Bartolomé Martínez
Revista de Filología y Lingüística de la Universidad de Costa Rica, vol.. 46, no. 1, 2020
Universidad de Costa Rica


Revista de Filología y Lingüística de la Universidad de Costa Rica
Universidad de Costa Rica, Costa Rica
ISSN: 0377-628X
ISSN-e: 2215-2628
Periodicity: Semestral
vol. 46, no. 1, 2020

Received: 06 March 2019

Accepted: 17 July 2019

This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 International.

Resumen: En el presente estudio se considera el uso de elementos lingüísticos indicadores de énfasis que aparecen en un informe español sobre el estado del abastecimiento natural de agua en la isla española de Gran Canaria publicado en 1862. El texto refleja la preocupación del autor por las infraestructuras de riego en esta isla. Mi interés principal está relacionado con la forma en la que el autor expresa sus preocupaciones y su uso de los elementos enfáticos. Dicho esto, mi objetivo principal es explorar los usos específicos del lenguaje que transmiten énfasis en el español de la época. Los rasgos de énfasis empleados en el texto de Bartolomé Martínez publicado en el Boletín de la sociedad económica de amigos del país de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria el 31 de marzo de 1862 se han identificado como rasgos característicos del informe científico en los siglos XVIII y XIX y por lo tanto podrían ser indicativos de la postura de los autores tanto en relación con el texto como con el público potencial. En las conclusiones se ofrecerán los principales hallazgos sobre el conjunto de rasgos enfáticos que se emplean en este informe español.

Palabras clave: marcadores enfáticos, siglo XIX, modalidad, evidencialidad, textos históricos.

Abstract: The present paper deals with emphatic features occurring in a Spanish report on the state of natural water supply in the Spanish island of Gran Canaria published in 1862. The text reflects the author’s concerns with the irrigation infrastructures in this island. My main interest is related to the way the author expresses his caveats and his use of emphatic devices. This said, my main objective is to explore specific language uses that convey the expression of emphasis in earlier Spanish. The emphatic features used in Bartolomé Martínez’s text published in Boletín de la sociedad económica de amigos del país de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria of March 31, 1862, have been reportedly identified in reports as characteristic features of the scientific report in the XVIII and XIX centuries, and they might therefore be indicative of the authors’ stance concerning both their text and their potential audience. Conclusions will offer major findings dealing with the set of emphatic features deployed in this Spanish report.

Keywords: emphatic language, nineteenth-century, modality, evidentiality, historical texts.

1. Introduction1

The present paper reports on the emphatic features occurring in what could be labelled as a semi-technical text on the state of natural water supply in the Spanish island of Gran Canaria published in the Boletín de la Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (31st March, 1862). The text reflects the author’s caveats concerning the state of water distribution from its initial source up to farms and lands. My interest in this text is not exclusively the historical account it represents, but the way the author expresses his concerns in this respect using a language that, despite showing some technicalities, presents a number of emphatic features in his argumentation.

My objective is to evaluate language uses that convey emphasis in this nineteenth-century report. Our study will benefit from such earlier research on historical texts, such as Biber (2004), Mele Marrero & Alonso Almeida (2011), Pahta (2005), Szmrecsanyi, Douglas, Jesse & Franco (2016), Taavitsainen & Pahta (2000). Methodology involves manual analysis of the text to tag those stretches of text indicating emotive language. These will be later grouped according to related phenomena.

In the remaining of this paper, I first describe the informe genre as belonging to the category of argumentative genres, and its characteristics. After this, I describe the text and the publishing venue in which it appears in the nineteenth century. Along with this, I describe the methodology of inquiry. The results and discussion of findings are given in section 4, and this is followed by the conclusions drawn from this paper.

2. The argumentative genre

The report (‘memoria’ in Spanish) is a well-established genre used to show the stance of the author in relation to one aspect of life in order to persuade potential readers to meet the author’s particular viewpoint. The notion of textual genre has been extensively discussed. One definition of genre is given in the following excerpt from Bajtín (1982, p. 248):

El uso de la lengua se lleva a cabo en forma de enunciados (orales y escritos) concretos y singulares que pertenecen a los participantes de una u otra esfera de la praxis humana. Estos enunciados reflejan las condiciones específicas y el objeto de cada una de las esferas no solo por su contenido (temático) y por su estilo verbal, o sea por la selección de los recursos léxicos, fraseológicos y gramaticales de la lengua, sino, ante todo, por su composición o estructuración. Los tres momentos mencionados –el contenido temático, el estilo y la composición– están vinculados indisolublemente en la totalidad del enunciado y se determinan, de un modo semejante, por la especificidad de una esfera determinada de comunicación2.

This notion of genre is on a par with the notion of genre put forward in the framework of functional grammar, as in Halliday & Matthiessen (2004). Genre and text types are often confused and confusing terms. A text type should be clearly distinguished from genre because the latter is necessarily defined according to external features. Text types are, however, characterized according its internal linguistic criteria, and they describe the specific use of the language used to develop a text. Werlich (1976) divides text types into description, narration, exposition, argumentation, and instruction. For Biber (1988, p. 70), the term text type is used to “refer to groupings of texts that are similar with respect to their linguistic form, irrespective of genre categories”. That means that different text types may co-occur in one single genre, e.g. an academic article may show cases of the narrative, the expositive and the descriptive text types. In brief, text types are characterized according to their morphological, syntactic and lexical features. The lexical aspect is certain a questionable aspect, as this seems to be a feature concerning a register variable concerning the field of knowledge being covered in a particular text.

Register is also an important concept strongly related to the notion of genre. Martin (1984), Halliday & Hasan (1985), and Biber (1988) have studied these concepts in detail and applied them to several concerns of textual analysis (as shown in Moessner, 2001). In this context, the term register “refers to a functional variety of language... It has also been used in a related, but different way, to refer to the contextual values associated with such a functional variety” (Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004, p. 29, fn. 8). Halliday (1985) and Eggins (1994, p. 54) identify three register variables: (a) field (“what the language is being used to talk about”), (b) mode (“the role language is playing in the interaction”) and (c) tenor (“the role relationships between the interactants”). These accounts for variation in text genres. In our text, the field corresponds to flowing waters in the island of Gran Canaria, the mode is a written text to be read, and the tenor is one in which a hierarchical relation is established. In other words, this is a technical report written by a specialist to instruct and convince an audience of the actions that should be taken.

As said, the report genre appears to be useful to persuade readers to lean towards the ideas of the authors at a particular time. In this sense, the report might be labelled as an argumentative genre, as it exhibits a selection of opinions to gain acceptance. Reports might be written to be read alone, or they might be written to be read in front of an audience. The latter use of reports is related to kinetic support to language and suprasegmental means (Geltner, 2013, p. 2). What is certain is that reports contain information influenced to reflect a particular stance, and this may be conveniently enhanced and evidenced by the use of certain linguistic emphatic cues.

Hyland (2005, p. 176) sees stance

as an attitudinal dimension and includes features which refer to the ways writers present themselves and convey their judgements, opinions, and commitments. It is the ways that writers intrude to stamp their personal authority onto their arguments or step back and disguise their involvement.

In this context, emphatic language evinces the attitude of the author both towards his text and this may have a persuading intention. This may be linguistically encoded through a variety of phonological, morphological, syntactic, and lexical devices.

As put forward in Ratia (2005, p. 126), persuasion is naturally at the heart of the functions pursued by the use of language in such argumentative texts as the report text. As she says, this type of language is more appropriate, however not exclusive, of oral communication. In the context of the nineteenth century, emphatic language can be seen as a recursive strategy to gain the audience attention and accept the author’s point of view. Textual emphasis is important when the text is read aloud, as it helps to inject his pathos into the audience. By focusing on this function of the report, an interactional dimension develops, and the author appears to establish a dialogue, albeit hierarchically imbalanced, with the audience.

I shall concentrate on the emphatic features in Martínez’s Memoria to see how these help the speaker to get the audience’s attention in his attempt of convincing them to take a particular action concerning the control and regulation of flowing waters in Gran Canaria.

3. The text

The text I focus on is a report written by D. Bartolomé Martínez de Escobar y Domínguez who, according to Negrín Fajardo (1999, p. 46), worked as a lawyer in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in the first half of the eighteenth century. He appears to have been an influential member of La Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (SEAPGC). This SEAPGC was one of the many societies of this kind existing in the late modern period in Spain. These societies were in charge of promoting the general development of the regions of Spain, both from an economic, technological and cultural perspective. These patronizing societies sought the wealth of Spain and, for that reason; they led changes in all spheres of society. In this context, they held meetings for discussing current topics of interest to the regions in which they settled, and the agreements made in these meetings were later published in the forms of bulletins, which, besides these minutes, also contained instructive and argumentative text-types (in the sense in Werlich, 1983) concerning, say, the setting of new business or the needs of repairs to boost local administration and economy, among others, often in the form of reports.

In this context, Martínez de Escobar y Domínguez’s Memoria published in the bulletin of the SEAPGC in two instalments, February and March 1862, represents an argumentative piece dealing with the contemporary irrigation ditches in the island of Gran Canaria. Apparently, as put forward in García del Rosario (1981, pp. 116-17), this text was written for a speech delivered on the 15th October 1865, and the printed version I review represents a reduced account of this presentation. The author shows himself very concerned with the state of spring water ditches for irrigation, as well as the tremendous amount of water that goes directly into the sea want of modern reservoirs to collect it for future use for farming use. As the description goes, the state of the irrigation system is revealed as non-existent, except for the areas of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Telde, these representing a very small portion of the island. In addition to the construction of reservoirs, the author suggests to create subterranean channels to transport water to places all over the island. These proposals pursued to bring wealth to all parts of the island of Gran Canaria, and thus the avoidance of some kind of immigration movement towards more populated areas.

My methodology concerns manual analysis of the text in order to carefully isolate cases of emotive language. The text has been read from the facsimiles digitalized by the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and freely accessed via the Internet at These reproductions belong to the collection Boletín de la Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria ‘Bulletin of the Economic Society of the Country’s Fellows at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’, and contains specimens from 31st January, 1862 up to 31st May, 1870. Martínez’s text is written in nineteenth-century Spanish. Both the spelling and the punctuation have been preserved in the material excerpted for illustration. This also includes the use of accent marks on top of vowels to indicate accentuation as they stand in the original text, even in those cases where accent marks are no longer used in present-day Spanish. The text is given in 11 pages (pp. 15-20 in the February issue, and pp. 26-30 in the March issue) in two separate instalments, and it is written in two columns of similar number of lines. Martínez’s Memoria is preceded by an editorial note, in which the topic of the text is described and a declaration of the society to undertake the ideas proposed by Martínez.

The contents of the text are divided into five sections, each one of them preceded by the following headings and a roman numeral in capital letters; note that the numeral is given before the heading in sections 4 and 5: MEJORAS DE LAS SOCIEDADES DE AGUAS I., RECONOCIMIENTO DEL ORIGEN Y CAUCE DE LAS AGUAS II., ESTABLECIMIENTO DE ACEQUIAS PARA DAR DIRECCION A LAS AGUAS DE INVIERNO III., IV. CONSTRUCCIÓN DE ESTANQUES EN LOS TERRENOS BAJOS, INUNDADOS CON LAS AGUAS DE INVIERNO, V. CONSTRUCCIONES DE CALICATAS Ó MINAS SUBTERRÁNEAS PARA ESTRAER AGUAS Y CREAR NUEVOS RIEGOS. The end of section 5, and also the end of the text, is signalled by the place and the date in which this report was finally penned by Martínez and his name in small capitals are given: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Febrero 27 de 1862 Bartolomé Martínez.

4. Emphatic features in Martínez’s Memoria

The results of our inquiry have been grouped according to phenomena concerning (a) intonation, (b) morphology and syntax, and (c) lexicon. In all cases, I present evidence from the text following the transcription criteria indicated in section 3.

4.1 Intonation

Indeed, the analysis of intonation in written texts is a controversial issue, and the literature in this respect is short. Ashby (2017), however, has demonstrated and exemplified that written intonation and ‘tone of voice’ exist, and she therefore claims that is an area of linguistics yet to be fully explored in the following terms: “this is an under-investigated stylistic device and an area where phonetics might make a direct contribution to literary linguistics” (Ashby, 2017, p. 40). It goes without saying that the reaction expected from the use of these rhetorical questions is not necessarily verbal, as “there is general agreement that rhetorical questions do not elicit an answer but instead directly assert a biased position” (Rohde, 2006, p. 142). The way in which the speaker relates the textual and the performance side of a speech represents a meticulous process pursuing to move and to convince the audience towards his own stance: “la fuerza persuasiva de un discurso depende de cómo presenta una argumentación (logos), concebida tomando en cuenta al auditorio, de manera que incida en éste (pathos), considerando la forma como el orador logra resaltar los rasgos pertinentes de su carácter (ethos)3 (Puig, 2008, pp. 398-399). In other words, the persuasive role of the pathos in the argumentative essay in the nineteenth century stands as a characteristic feature of these texts no matter whether the text is to be read alone or in front of an audience.

This is the case here, as intonation seems to play an important role in the complete report by the author, which has been obviously written for being read aloud. This use of intonation is especially evident in rhetorical questions (Han, 2002), where the readers may feel his scorn and contempt for the lack of actions to prevent the miserable situation of irrigation structures in the island. Example (1) shows this use of the interrogative intonation to reveal the author’s stance. In this instance, the affected deploy of the concessive particle pero ‘but’ along with the paused placed by the punctuation symbol (:) reinforces this stagey effect. The ultimate purpose of this device is to persuade readers as to the importance of the information presented:

1. Pero: ¿y las aguas: este inmueble tan apreciado, y el mas útil y necesario á la agricultura? (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 19).

A similar persuasive force is also gained in the following instance exhibiting two rhetorical questions introduced by cómo ‘how’ within the same quotation marks. Here, the author expresses his disagreement as to the constant loss of spring water into the sea:

2. ¿Y cómo no se han utilizado esta agua que son una riqueza que huye á borbotones de nuestras tierras: como no se han buscado medios de depositarlas en los terrenos de asiento de las diferentes zonas que se forman en las Islas? (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 28).

The vibrancy of rhetorical questions also proves useful to raise and seek approval for the authors’ own proposals for rural water channelling by focusing on established systems of water supply in urban areas, as in (3), below, which additionally presents a syntactic parallel structure. This type of arrangements “can serve to emphasize that the ideas are equal in importance and can add a sense of symmetry and rhythm which make a speech more memorable” (Ameedi & Mukhef, 2017, p. 185). In (3), the use of the paralelism ¿Llegaría...? provides verbal strength to the propositional content of the statements in an attempt to convince readers through the highlighting of specific relevant information concerning water supply and human intervention; the use of the rhetorical questions along with the repetition of llegaría emphasizes the illocutionary forces of the propositional contents of the statements:

3. ¿Llegaría á las huertas de recreo y desahogo de las casas de esta poblacion el riego que se les suministra con un dado ó paja de agua, que segun reglamento de estas distribuciones, es el diámetro de un Bamba, moneda del círculo de un cuarto ó poco mas, si no viniese por un acueducto de arcaduces cubiertos? ¿Llegaría el agua del abasto público, si no se hubiese emprendido con constancia y repetidas veces la canalización subterránea? (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 17).

The author’s sense of annoyance is evident in the use of exclamation marks in the instance in (4), since this is one of the uses of this symbol, as pointed out by Garner (2016, p. 158): “An exclamation expresses the extent to which a speaker is moved, aroused, impressed, or disgusted by something”. These marks therefore indicate a particular reading of the text, and this is sufficiently contextualized with relevant context that I also quote in (4). In this passage, the author shows his disbelief for prohibiting what he considers a clever way to collect natural water, otherwise lost into the sea:

4. Y he visto repeler este principio social y jurídico en tiempos no muy distantes de nosotros, y justamente en este punto de aprovechamiento de aguas que inútilmente corrian á perderse en el mar, y provenian del Heredamiento de Tafira que en la estación invernosa arrojaba sus aguas por la cañada del Lomo del Capon; y se prohibió que las pudiesen recoger D. José y D. Diego Suarez hermanos, inutilizando un estanque que para ello habian costosamente fabricado ¡A tal grado subia el egoísmo que jamas tiene derecho á sobreponerse al bien, ni á las leyes estrechas del justo órden social! (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 18).

In other words, in this particular case, the exclamation marks are used as an attention-getting device in the written form, and this took shape when the report was once read. The particular reading forced by this punctuation mark accentuates the idea the author wants to convey. He wants the audience to pay attention to his feeling of discomfort with those directives regulating the use of flowing water, as they seem not to prove coherent with the present water demand in the Island of Gran Canaria.

4.2 Linguistic cues for emphasizing meaning

Specific use of Spanish and syntactic order may be also an indication of emphasis in discourse. This emphasis is achieved through the linguistic signalling of, say, pretended authorial tentativeness, that is to say, epistemic stance. Epistemic modality appears to be a common feature of the argumentative genres: essays, reports, etc. The reverse positioning also holds. The marking of effective stance (Langacker, 2009), such as a type of modality, which involves the author’s expectations, desires and deontic position, may help the author to give prominence to his / her ideas. The authors’ intentions in the combination of these types of stance pursue both to report on the information owned and how this has been obtained and to influence on the development on the current state of affairs, as put forward in Langacker (2009, p. 153): “These aspects of linguistic structure reflect not only our constant effort to acquire knowledge about the world, but also our efforts to change it – besides just learning what happens, we try to influence what happens”. In this text, all this is mainly realized by means of tense, epistemic modality, and deontic modality and the imperative, inferential and reportative evidentials, and specific person marking. A deliberate word order has a strong impact on the intended prominence of ideas. This is also covered in this section.

4.2.1 Tense: hypothetical tense

Tense is obviously one clear indicator of authorial point of view, and Memoria offers very good examples in this respect. The use of the future appears in the text to designate events which the author questions himself some aspects that are needed to change the current state of affairs and solve the problem of water supply in areas other than the urban areas of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Telde. This is seen in the following instance, where the author uses the future tense to gain a clear theatrical effect in order to draw the audience’s attention towards his position:

5. ¡Cuantos colonos crearán estas dos empresas de asociacion, y serán el germen (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 30).

Along with the future tense, the author uses the past tense in his argumentation as a way to support his view concerning the necessity of controlling flowing water in Gran Canaria. This manifestation of authorial effective stance follows from his idea of changing the world as it stands, and this is gained through narrative passages framing his argumentation. One case in point is given below in (6). In this example, the author seeks to substantiate his idea of a legal state intervention of private lands (expropiación forzosa) on earlier evidence in history, that is the works done in 1819 (my emphasis in the text), thus the use of comenzaron, separaban, presentaba and comenzaba, should a channel of flowing water for agrarian purposes pass through to irrigate another slot of land (en beneficio de la Agricultura):

6. Aunque por medios indirectos ha recibido impulsos de las Leyes dictadas en la Administracion pública del Estado: en esa jurisdiccion esclarecida que tanto se afana hoy en cumplir su mision social. Se han abierto los rios, los pantanos y lagunas para fecundar los campos... Pero desde 1819... se comenzaron á conceder exenciones y favor á los nuevos riegos de caudales de aguas extraidas con Real concesion... – Ya en Real órden de 1833 se separaban de los riegos del rio Guadalhorce los obstáculos que presentaba la servidumbre de acueducto, y se comenzaba á dictar reglas de expropriación forzosa en beneficio de la Agricultura (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 19).

Finally, hypothetical scenarios following from a change in the current situation is recursively expressed with the present or the past subjunctive (see Batchelor & San José, 2010, pp. 279 and the following), as in the cases below:

7. Si hoy con estas huertas que sostienen como colonos mil familias en las Vegas de San José, Santa Catalina y valles próximos á Las Palmas, el precio de los granos marcha regularmente: si se duplicase el agua, necesariamente serian dos mil familias las que llenasen de vida y movimiento y vida vegetal esos yermos donde no se oye la voz humana, ni se vé la vida laboriosa (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 16).

8. Última de las empresas originarias que darian impulso al cultivo y estension de la propiedad, y que elevaria la riqueza territorial á un grado brillante, es la construcción de calicatas ó galerías subterraneas para alumbrar aguas, y formar heredamientos ó Sociedades de riegos (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 30).

4.2.2 Epistemic stance

Epistemic stance is achieved through epistemic modality and evidentials. As to epistemic modality, Nuyts (2001, p. 21) defines this “as (the linguistic expression of) and evaluation of the chances that a certain hypothetical state of affairs under consideration (or some aspect of it) will occur, is occurring, or has occurred in a possible world”. In Memoria, epistemic modality is realized by means of adverbs with a scope over the proposition. In (9) below, the adverb tal vez ‘probably’ is used to hedge the complete proposition, and so the author mitigates his own claim in order to avoid imposing his point of view too straightforwardly (Myers, 1989), even if his communicative intention is really to emphasize the contents of his text. In fact, the pause needed before the use of the device tal vez represents an attention-getting resource, as expectation may follow from a convenient reading aloud of this piece of discourse:

9. El que lleva el designio de descubrir el filon de plata ú oro, ó cualquiera otro metal, juega sus capitales al azar, tal vez se frustran sus deseos, y perdió su dinero y sus afanes (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 30).

As to evidentials, the text exhibits cases of inferential and reportative evidence strategies. These indicate the stance of the writer by specifying his source or mode of knowledge in order to highlight the importance and relevance of his claims. With them, the author pursues the legitimization of his assertations. Examples are the following:

10. Es evidente que cada heredamiento no ha podido tomar en una sola fuente su caudal: que un solo arroyo por caudaloso que se suponga, en la naturaleza del suelo de las Canarias, no se produce una, do, seis, doce ó veinte y cuatro azadas de agua, ó sean modulos proporcionados al riego de una fanegada (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 26).

11. Claro es, que la pérdida en el acueducto natural de tierra, y la evaporzación por el Sol y el aire atmosférico, son rémoras tan marcadas, y tanto gasto inútil del líquido, que recobradas estas con la canalización (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 17).

12. Naturalmente, parece que se estravia de su primer intento el que redacta esta Memoria entrando su hoz en el campo del derecho, y alejándose un tanto de los principios económicos que dirigen el progreso de la agricultura en el fomento y estension de los riegos (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 18).

13. Las Leyes Recopiladas, es bien sabido, autorizan á cualquiera para denunciar las casas ruinosas, sitios yermos, y casa baja, para penar con urbanidad y decoro al propietario en su negligencia y abandono, invitándole á fabricar dentro de seis meses, y de lo contrario obligándole á vender á censo ó á dinero decontado (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 19).

The first three of these examples are cases of inferential evidence, and all three devices have a scope over the propositions. Inferentiality in (12) is expressed both by the adverbial naturalmente and parece que (Alonso-Almeida, 2015). The former is equivalent to the English evidential particle obviously indicating perception in the realm of clarity. The string es bien sabido ‘it is well known’ in (13) indicates reportative evidence. The author declares that his is shared knowledge, and this emphasis on declaring his source of knowledge has apparently an impact on the information framed by the evidentials. In this context, the pragmatic interpretation of these evidentials relies on the intersubjective nature of the statement to similarly indicate that the responsibility for the claim is also collective.

Along with the use of the subjunctive and the hypothetical future described earlier in this article, the use of epistemic stance features appears to emerge from the author’s intention to draw attention towards his text. That is also a function that is seemingly fulfilled by the deployment of certain effective stance features, as explained in what follows, namely deontic modality, and the imperative.

4.2.3 Effective stance: deontic modality and the use of the imperative

Deontic modality has an array of meanings, all of them dealing with aspects concerning some kind of obligation, or even the absence of such obligation. Charlow & Chrisman (2016, p. 1) sees deontic modality, as follows:

Philosophers, linguists, and logicians have traditionally conceived of deontic modality as having to do with what is morally or legally obligatory and permissible, where these are treated as species of necessity and possibility. For example, what’s morally obligatory is treated as what’s necessary to conform to the rules of morality, or what’s legally permissible is treated as what’s possible to do without breaking the (relevant) law.

Deontic modality appears in (14). In this instance, two deontic modals cooccur to clearly indicate and reinforce the strength of his point of view. In fact, the notion of water distribution through adequately raised channelling is one the author’s best asset in the entire argumentation:

14. Y nuestros contornos hasta Guanarteme con raras excepciones, permanecen incultos, cuando desde el barranco por el Dragonal viene una acequia de poca capacidad que conduce aguas de aquel heredamiento: y esa misma acequia indica el camino por donde puede y debe abrirse por asociación, una mas ancha junto á aquella misma, é individualmente separada, que con sus compuertas graduadas, darian fácil (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 29).

A mild type of obligation is seen in (11) with the use of the imperative mood as reflected in partamos. The use of the imperative in this context has clear didactic nuances, as the author is guiding the reader through a description following a logical path. In short, the imperative mood presents an instructive goal, while it also conveys emotion in the way in which readers are addressed.

15. Partamos del principio natural en el descenso ó declive mas ó menos inclinado de la superficie del barranco: siempre ese mismo descenso facilita y favorece la canalización de todos los arroyos (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 27).

4.2.4 Attitudinal devices

Attitudinal devices indicate the manner the author understands the information he offers. In doing so, he performs an emphasizing stance to the contents of the proposition. Attitudinal devices are adverbs in all the instances in the text. The following example in (16) contains the adverb fácilmente ‘easily’, which is given in topic position to strengthen its value and also to reinforce the idea of authorial involvement:

16. Facilmente se estudian todos los barrancos para formar en las gargantas de los cerros colaterales los azudes y represas útiles á la conduccion y aprovechamiento de las agrias de invierno (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 29).

4.2.5 Person marking and the passive voice

Person marking may have an emphatic target, as the author may want to clearly show his involvement in the construction of knowledge. The use of yo in (17) is certainly intentional and affected, as there is no need to give this pronoun explicitly in Spanish, unless some kind of effect is pursued. In (18) and (19), person is indicated by means of the verbal clitics -o in pierdo and in añadí to refer to the first person singular, hence the author. Intersubjectivity is not intended, however, in (20) with the use of nuestro ‘our’. In fact, it seems that nuestro in this case signifies a polite way to refer to the author alone in the first person plural. This considered within the argumentative framework of the report, one that purposively designed to be read, may contribute to draw the attention of the audience.

17. Lleno yo de aquel entusiasmo que inspira el impulso de una mejora (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 16).

18. ¿Con qué no pierdo las esperanzas? (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 16).

19. les añadí por toda convicción (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 16).

20. –Y á tanto llega respeto, que nuestro afan se esmera en auxiliar esas mismas prerogativas, proponiendo las mejoras que den un lucro pronto y excedente al caudal de las aguas que hoy se riegan (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 20).

Person is, however, not always explicitly marked, and that is the case of the impersonal construction with se + verb instead of the traditional passive ser ‘to be’ + past participle, as in se conoce and es conocido both meaning literally it is known. Besides avoidance of person marking, the passive is also deployed for arranging information in the text in sequences introduced by the passive voice, as in (21), in which se appears both as a free morpheme and attached:

21. Así como no puede atentarse al dominio particular de las aguas reducidas á propiedad inmueble, sin profanar un sagrado: las que de estas mismas se desmembran, se abandonan y se desprecian sin aprovechar á nadie, siempre serán objeto del primer ocupante, siempre serán objeto del primer ocupante, siempre serán un título que autoriza la denuncia piadosa y noble de un bien que pueda ser útil á otro sin perjudicar al dueño (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, pp. 18-19).

4.2.6 Specific word order

Spanish allows for a flexible word order, even if it is not a highly inflected language. This flexibility in the order of constituents is very appropriate in the argumentative genres, as they may promote and support particular performative and communicative effects. One clear case is the use of the past participle structure (participle followed by a noun) in sentence-initial position with an obvious emphasizing significance, as in (22):

22. Establecidos los remedios de conservar y aumentar el caudal dado de las aguas de las Sociedades de riego; y las ventajas que resultan á las mismas en duplicar, ó al menos aumentar en una tercia ó cuarta parte sus aguas, preciso es que conviertamos nuestra atención, y concluyamos el plan de esta mejora colosal en la riqueza individual y pública, con señalar los medios para llevar á cabo la empresa de cierta y de feliz éxito (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 27).

The participle establecidos introduces a complete phrase with several complements. The placing of this structure in topic position reveals an intention to highlight meaning through specific reading cadence. The participle structure reports on some background information that allows the use of the deontic expression es preciso que in the matrix clause, also indicating the author’s effective stance, which is also an attention-getting device.

Other samples which reflect deliberate word order are given in (23) and (24). Both include the attribute in thematic position and the subject appears later in the sentence after the verb. An interesting contribution of the adjective in this position is the elocutionary effect the overall structure forces. Narrative interest is gained by placing the adjective first in the sentence in both examples, namely última and pocos. Thus, the readers need to proceed forward to learn what these proforms stand for:

23. Última de las empresas originarias que darian impulso al cultivo y estension de la propiedad, y que elvaria la riqueza territorial á un grado brillante, es [main verb] la construcción de calicatas ó galerías subterráneas para alumbrar aguas, y formar heredamientos ó Sociedades de riegos (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 30).

24. Pocosson[main verb] los brazos que hasta ahora se ocupan y mueven pero cuando el éxito feliz impulse mayores esfuerzos, será un nuevo campo abierto á la industria agrícola y fabril (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 30).

4.3. Lexicon

In the arena of vocabulary, I have identified words in the text that carry an additional emphasizing function, and within these I also include foreign words. I discuss each one in the following sections.

4.3.1 Words for emphasis

The text is marred with words with an emphatic target that contributes to the configuration of the pathos. With these, the author seeks to achieve the overall persuasive function of his argumentative text. Some of these words are derrame, desperdicio, desperdiciadas, abandonadas, costosamente, egoísmo, justo, violento, yermos, muertas, abandono, negligencia, obstruidas, forzosa, triste, lamentable, cáncer, monopolio, and exclusivismo. The majority of them refer to the poor state of water supply in Gran Canaria and what authorities have not done to remedy the situation. The example in (25) contains instances of these words in context. The word egoismo ‘egoism’, estrechas ‘narrow’ are given as opposed to the word justo ‘fair’ in the same sentence.

25. ¡A tal grado subia el egoismo que jamas tiene derecho á sobreponerse al bien, ni á las leyes estrechas del justo órden social! (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 18).

4.3.2 Code-switching: foreign words

Code-switching “refers to the use of several languages or dialects in the same conversation or sentence by bilingual people. It affects practically everyone who is in contact with more than one language or dialect” (Gardner-Chloros, 2009, p. 4). In the case of Memoria, the author might have been in contact with Latin due to his profession and training as a lawyer, and this may explain the use of this language at different points in the argumentation. This familiarity with Latin indicates the emotional force the author seeks to provide to his text, and he therefore uses them in order to highlight the information he prefers to persuade his audience. Examples are the following and, as can be seen there, Latin is macaronic and far from correct. It seems that the command of the author in this language was not very high. Still, the effect he wants to achieve with these Latin additions can be perceived.

26. Facile est inveatis áddvere (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 30) [probably (26) Facile est inventis advere ‘It is easy to find an opponent’].

27. –Ni se creyera, sino estuviese escrito y egecutoriado, que hasta después que iban distraídas y desperdiciadas al mar las sobrantes, se pusiese coto á la justa libertad de ocupar y aprovechar las cosas deselictas (Bartolomé Martínez, 1862, p. 18) [probably derelicta ‘left’].

5. Conclusions

In this paper, I have shown the use of language with emphatic overtones in a technical text written in nineteenth-century Spanish for claiming legal regulation over the control of flowing waters in Gran Canaria. The text shows a number of strategies aiming at showing the stance of the writer towards his text. Stance is thus realized by means of intonation, morphology, syntax and vocabulary devices. In this respect, the author’s voice of frustration with the current status of irrigation channels in the island of Gran Canaria is unequivocally signalled by using rhetorical questions, exclamations, tense, modal devices, evidential devices, the use of the imperative, the use of first person singular and plural pronouns, attitudinal expressions, and specific word order.

In addition, the author selects certain lexical items that reinforce the complete idea behind his report, that is to show his disagreement with the contemporary rural irrigation system and the need to support and encourage new measures. Among the lexical aspects, the interference of Latin at some points in the text brings about some emphatic effect to the text. In short, the writer uses strategically the devices here mentioned in the elaboration of his Memoria in order to show his authority in the topic developed. The devices described in this paper represent a way to communicate technical information, which tries to find equilibrium between modesty, hence the use of epistemic stance features, and authority, therefore, the use of effective stance features and attitudinal aspects. The effect of the emphatic tone in which the writer wants to spread his ideas over language should not be always interpreted in terms of the urgency of the author to gain the desired results. Emphasis should be understood differently depending whether a mitigating or a strengthening function is pursued at any point of Martínez’s discourse, as has been exemplified in this paper.


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1 I would like to express my gratitude to the companies Astican, Litografía González and Agua de Firgas for the research grant awarded via the Fundación Universitaria de Las Palmas.
2 The use of language takes the form of concrete and unique statements (oral and written) belonging to participants in one or another sphere of human practice. These statements reflect the specific conditions and the object of each of the spheres not only by their (thematic) content and their verbal style, that is, by the selection of the lexical, phraseological and grammatical resources of the language, but above all by their composition or structure. The three moments mentioned –the thematic content, the style and the composition– are indissolubly linked in the totality of the sentence and are determined, in a similar way, by the specificity of a given sphere of communication (My translation).
3 “the persuasive power of a speech depends on how it presents an argument (logos), conceived with the audience in mind, so as to influence them (pathos), considering the way in which the speaker manages to highlight the relevant features of his character (ethos)” (My translation).

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