Cognitive poetics: goals, gains and gaps pages:319-369
In their paper "Judging distances: Mental spaces, distance, and viewpoint in literary discourse", Dancygier and Vandelanotte propose to distinguish “discourse distance” as distinct from other cases of distance such as temporal, social, metalinguistic and epistemic distance. In distanced discourse, one and the same utterance subordinated to one deictic centre may represent two discourse stances, one of which is not grounded in the speaker’s belief world. An example of this is the conditional "If (as you say) she was hired, she doesn’t need our help any more", in which the if-clause does not represent the speaker’s knowledge, but is essentially a premise temporarily borrowed from another’s discourse for the purposes of conditional reasoning. Indeed, Dancygier and Vandelanotte argue that discourse distance borrows or evokes (rather than properly embeds) a thought from another discourse space in the argumentative build-up of the speaker’s own space. This phenomenon is discussed across a wide range of constructions in grammar and discourse, including past indicative conditionals, metalinguistic negation, a specifically ‘distanced’ mode of indirect speech and thought, all the way through to distanced discourse in the poetry of Larkin, Szymborska and Reed. In the concluding discussion of Reed’s war poem “Judging distances” the different kinds of distance all come together, thus unravelling the poem’s message that however hard we may try to fool ourselves in different forms of linguistic distancing, ultimately we can never distance ourselves from our emotions.