Animals, animacy and anthropocentrism

Sealey, Alison Jean (2018) Animals, animacy and anthropocentrism. International Journal of Language and Culture, 5 (2). 224–247. ISSN 2214-3157

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This paper explores various ways in which contemporary British English depicts degrees of animacy among nonhuman animals, and demonstrates the anthropocentric qualities of much discourse about animals. The first section reviews discussions of animacy in relevant research literature, highlighting how these often take for granted a categorical distinction between humans and other animals, before demonstrating how both corpus-assisted approaches to discourse analysis and developments in the analysis of animacy point to a more complex picture. The second section discusses the implications of recent work in social theory for understanding organisms, and their degrees of animacy, from the perspective of networks rather than hierarchies. The third section of the paper presents analyses of an electronically stored corpus of language about animals. Three analyses of naming terms, descriptors and verbal patterns associated with various non-human animals illustrate a range of ways in which their animacy is denoted and connoted. They also demonstrate the influence of discourse type and human purpose on depictions of animals and assumptions about their animacy.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
International Journal of Language and Culture
Additional Information:
This article has been accepted for publication in International Journal of Language and Culture, Volume 5, Issue 2, 2018, pages: 224–247, © 2018 John Benjamins, the publisher should be contacted for permission to re-use the material in any form.
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04 Apr 2018 15:30
Last Modified:
16 Jun 2024 23:54