Stance and Subjectivity

Stance may be understood as the semiotic means by which we indicate our orientation to states of affairs, usually framed in terms of evaluation (e.g., moral obligation and epistemic possibility) or intentionality (e.g., desire and memory, fear and doubt). Using data from Q'eqchi'-Maya and English, stance is operationalized in terms of complement-taking predicates and the grammatical category of status. Using frameworks from Goffman and Jakobson, it is argued that these lexical and grammatical domains disambiguate principals from animators (here called the commitment event and the speech event, respectively). It is argued that stances may be crosslinguistically grouped and ordered as a function of the degree to which the commitment event subsumes, or coincides with, the narrated event. And it is argued that "subjectivity in language" is not the issue; rather, research should focus on the intersection of a crosslinguistic account of commitment events and community-specific understandings of a speaker's contribution to event construal.