María Ángeles Orts Llopis


María Ángeles Orts Llopis

University of Murcia, Spain
She has been teaching and translating Professional English since the onset of her career, especially in the areas of law, economy and business. In these areas, she has taught and coordinated numerous postgraduate courses at several international and national institutions and universities, also publishing extensively in international journals and monographs. She has lectured on Forensic Linguistics and on economic, business and maritime language at institutions such as ENAE (Murcia Business School), UPC (Polytechnic University of Catalonia) and Pompeu Fabra University, staying as a Visiting Scholar at the Brooklyn Law School in New York, the IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology) in Chicago and the Department of Business and Communication at the University of Aarhus (Denmark). Her present research revolves around the economic and legal lexicon of the Global Systemic Crisis, the translation of corruption crimes and gender violence, the expression of power and legitimation in legal texts and the translation and interpretation of legal genres in the Common Law and Continental traditions.



Emotions in specialised genres: power, manipulation and persuasion from the perspective of affect spectrum theory (AST)

This paper aims to look at studies on professional genres from a constructivist and novel perspective, such as that of the sociological and anthropological neuroscientific advances on emotions of the last forty years. Thus, our aim will be to reflect on the constructive role of emotions in the creation and development of specialised texts (with occasional emphasis on the legal field), and, therefore, of the professional communities from which these texts emerge. Our work is grounded in the socio-evolutionary theory of emotions, the so-called ‘affect spectrum theory’ or AST, developed extensively in the work of TenHouten (1999 and 2014). This theory stands in dissonance with other Cartesian and rational-choice theories that oppose reason to emotion and assert that society only progresses to the extent that the former can control, suppress and triumph over emotions. In Humanities and Social Science studies, interest in language and emotion is part of what has come to be called the emotional turn, the emotional turn, akin to the linguistic turn that began in the 1970s. In fact, if the linguistic turn represents our recognition that language helps to build reality, the emotional turn implies that emotions play an equally fundamental role in human experience. In Linguistics, and without wishing to be exhaustive, the field of emotions and language has been addressed by Cognitive Linguistics (Schwarz-Friesel, 2015; Foolen, 2012 and 2016), Semiotics (Lüdtke, 2012), Pragmatics and the Sydney School’s Appraisal Theory (Benítez-Castro and Hidalgo-Tenorio, 2021; Alba-Juez, 2018; Alba-Juez and Mackenzie, 2019), for example.  This study, which is linguistic in nature, sets out to explore the theory of specialised genres in a somewhat different, but complementary, way to these works. Specifically, it is our underlying tenet that specialised and professional communication – that is, the communicative activity that professional communities articulate as “discursive communities” (Swales, 2011) through their genres as social activities – is articulated around emotions, and power, manipulation and persuasion as peculiar expressions of emotion. Emotions are intrinsically social, and their main adaptive function is interpersonal communication (Miller et al, 2004), which can only occur through language.  The transmission of meanings, ideological frameworks and constructs of social and professional institutions is based on the use of language as the main means of communication intrinsically related to human cognitive processes (Salmi-Tolonen 2011: 1). Thus, specialised communities have a powerful tool in their textual mechanisms or genres – as communicative instruments on an internal or organic level and on an external or social level – for their internal orchestration and for their communal integration (Orts and Breeze, 2017); in other words, professional genres administer the knowledge intrinsic to a given discipline and reflect the ideologies, power structures and social patterns of that discipline (Gunnarsson et al. 1997: 3). But here again it is important to stress that disciplinary communities interact with each other, with other institutions and with the world at large through emotions. These play a central role in organising the individual’s experience of reality, sense of self and competitive and cooperative orientations towards others, and thus in the creation of human cultural enterprises (TenHouten, 2014; Damasio, 2018). How this materially applies to professional genres is the focus of this paper.


Alba-Juez, L. 2018. Emotion and appraisal processes in language: How are they related? In Gómez González, M.A. and Mackenzie, J.L. (eds) The Construction of Discourse as Verbal Interaction, pp. 227-250. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Alba-Juez, L. and Mackenzie, L. Emotion in Discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Benítez Castro, M.A. e Hidalgo -Tenorio, E. Rethinking Martin & White’s AFFECT taxonomy: A psychologically-inspired approach to the linguistic expression of emotion. in Alba-Juez, L. and Mackenzie, L.(eds)  Emotion in Discourse, pp. 307-338. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Damasio, A. 2018. The Strange Order of Things : Life, Feeling, and the Making of Cultures. New York: Pantheon Books.

Foolen, A. 2012. The Relevance of Emotion for Language and Linguistics.”InA. Foolen, Ul. M. Lüdtke, T. P. Racine and J. Zlatev (eds) Moving Ourselves, Moving Others. Motion and Emotion in Intersubjectivity, Consciousness and Language, pp. 349‒368. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Foolen, A. 2016. Expressives. In N. Riemer (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Semantics, pp. 473‒490. London and New York: Routledge.

Gunnarsson, B.-L., Linell, P. and Nordberg, B. (eds) 1997. The Construction of Professional Discourse. New York: Longman

Lüdtke, Ulrike M. 2015. Introduction: From Logos to Dialogue. In Ulrike M. Lüdtke Emotion in Language (ed), pp. vii–xi. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Miller, D.A., Smith, E.R. and Mackie, M.M. 2004. Effects of intergroup contact and political predispositions on prejudice, Role of Intergroup emotions. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 7, 221-237.

Orts, M.A. and Breeze, R. (2017). Introduction. in Orts, M.A. Gotti, M. and Breeze, R. Power, Persuasion and Manipulation in Specialised Genres, pp. 9-26. Berna: Peter Lang.

Salmi-Tolonen, T. 2011. Introduction. In Salmi-Tolonen, T., Tukiainen, I., Foley, R. (eds) Law and Language in Partnership and Conflict. A Special Issue of The Lapland Law Review, 3-11.

Schwarz-Friesel, M. 2015. Language and Emotion. The Cognitive Linguistic Perspective.In U. M. Lüdtke Emotion in Language (ed), pp. vii–xi. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Swales, J. 2011. Genre Analysis in Academic and research Settings. Cambridge: CUP.

TenHouten, W. 2014. Emotion and Reason: Mind, Brain, and the Social Domains of Work and Love. London: RoutledgeTenHouten, W. 1999. The Four Elementary Forms of Sociality, their Biological Bases, and their Implications for Affect and Cognition. In Lee Freese (ed) Advances in Human Ecology, volume 8, pp 253-284. Stamford: JAI Press Inc