For three days (July 17, 18 and 19) Troikabr promoted one of the greatest ELT events I’ve ever been part of: TroikaXperience. This online event gathered prominent guest speakers in the field of ELT; offered 6-hour courses about 6 different trending topics to choose from; counted on the participation of the Troika community to deliver fantastic webinars, which allowed English teachers from all around the country to share their knowledge and teaching experiences and, on top of that, provided participants with opportunities to further network in the Troikafezinho slots. Experiencing all of this made me feel as if I was living in an alternative world where people do care about and support each other, where there is real solidarity, generosity and friendship, where we can find a real community.
Back to “real life” in the “real world”, looking back to all the highlights of such intense days, a myriad of thoughts flow through my mind and inspire personal reflections about the role we play in the world, the meaning of our profession - especially in times of disillusionment brought by the COVID-19 pandemic -, the importance of creating networks to strengthen our relationships and collaborate with peers, the powerful effect of belonging to and identifying ourselves with a community with such a remarkable identity.
The implications of the latter is what I’d like to focus on. What are the traits of this identity? What is it that Troikers (or Troikans, you can say which one you find best) identify with? In short, what is the essence of Troika? Vinnie Nobre and Paulo Dantas are, without any shadow of doubt, the ones who are most apt to answer these questions. However, I’d like to explore the concept of ethos, which might shed some light on this reflection as it offers a well-grounded theoretical support.
Accessing the Troika website, by clicking on xperience, the user could see the following ad:
The word ethos got me thinking: what is associated with “the troika ethos”? This reflection made me travel back to my graduate degree in which my dearest professor Cecilinha (Maria Cecília Pérez de Souza-e-Silva) taught Discourse Analysis at PUC-SP. I am now revisiting part of the content of this course.
Navigating through the concept of ethos
Within the francophone Discourse Analysis, the theory that guides this reflection, Dominique Maingueneau is considered one of the greatest scholars contributing with this field. More precisely, since the 1980s, the author has been developing studies aimed at understanding the ethos, which he regards as "(...) a voice -- a subject situated beyond the text." (2013, p. 104). This "voice" about which Maingueneau refers to is what is inferred from an enunciation, the personality of the enunciator. He explains that ethos relates to (...) a tone that gives authority to what is said. This tone allows the reader/listener to construct a representation of the enunciator's body (and not, of course, the body of the effective author). Reading/listening then gives rise to a subjective instance that plays the role of warrantor of what is said (2013, p. 107/108).
He adds that it is concerned with a set of physical and psychic determinations connected by collective representations to the image of the enunciator giving it a character and a corporality (2013, p. 108). In this sense, we can conclude that whenever an enunciation occurs, a subjective image of the enunciator (who writes/speaks) is conceived by the co-enunciator (who reads/listens), that is, an ethos. In other words, every enunciation inevitably creates an ethos. This ethos conceived by the co-enunciator is not, in fact, the empirical subject who produced the enunciation, but a constructed image, guided by the way the enunciation was produced, by the vocabulary used, by the tone of voice of the enunciator, by their posture before the co-enunciator. As Maingueneau summarizes: it is "(...) a way of saying that refers to a way of being" (2013, p. 108). This image of the enunciator then acquires a character, a personality, a body.
Maingueneau explains that this "character and [this] corporality of the warrantor come from a diffuse set of valued or devalued social representations, on which the enunciation is supported, which, in turn, can confirm or modify them" (2013, p. 108). The construction of this "body" depends on a collective imaginary that is already constructed, a basis of conceptions and social beliefs shared by the same community and that, precisely because they share this "ethical world", they construct subjective representations that acquire validity and a common shared meaning.
However, this very notion of "body" employed so far does not account for explaining everything that is related to the construction of this "image of the warrantor". Because of this, Maingueneau broadens the concept by talking about "incorporation", explaining that "we speak of incorporation to designate the action of the ethos on the co-enunciator" (2013, p. 109). The author explains:
(...) the concept of incorporation plays three roles:
• the enunciation gives a corporality to the warrantor, it gives them body;
• the recipient incorporates, assimilates through enunciation a set of schemes that correspond to a specific way of relating to the world;
• these first two incorporations allow the constitution of a body, the imaginary community of those who adhere to the same discourse. (MAINGUENEAU, 2016, p. 14).
These considerations provide us with three very important aspects to consider when we reflect upon ethos: (1) the construction of this image - of this body - is created based on the specific way in which the enunciation is uttered; (2) this specific way of enunciating, added to the ideas presented in the discourse, leads the co-enunciator to incorporate schemes that correspond to ways of identifying and relating to the world; and, at the junction of this process, (3) arises the community of those who adhere to the same beliefs and conceptions, which Maingueneau (2016, p. 14) designates as the "ethical world”.
Now, after navigating through the idea of ethos, we can keep sailing forward and start reflecting about what image has been constructed - and thus evoked - as Troika is uttered; which schemes are incorporated by us when we listen to Troika; and what beliefs and conceptions are these which arise and are adhered by the Troika community. These reflections may pave the way to the ultimate understanding of the Troika ethos. But this could probably be the theme of some next post.
By Cris Lage
Cristina Lage De Francesco has 20 years’ experience in ELT, having worked at language
institutes for 15 years. Currently, she teaches high school students at a bilingual and bicultural
regular school where she teaches both the national and the IB international curriculum. Cris
Lage holds an MA in Applied Linguistics from LAEL at PUC-SP and is a member of the
Research Group on Hermeneutic-Phenomenological Approach and Complexity from the same
university. She has international certificates in English language, culture and methodology
(TESOL, ICELT, BULATS and CPE) and has actively participated in conferences in the area of
ELT and Applied Linguistics for the past two years. Her main academic and professional
interests are: education for planetary/global citizenship, teacher education and epistemology of
MAINGUENEAU, D. O Ethos. In.: Análise de Textos de Comunicação. São Paulo: Cortez, 2013.
MAINGUENEAU, D. Retorno Crítico Sobre o Ethos. In: BARONAS, L. S., MESTI, P. C., CARREON, R. de O. (Orgs.). Análise do Discurso: Entorno da problemática do ethos, do político e de discursos constituintes. Campinas: Pontes, 2016.