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A field test of equivocation theory: Apologies by Canadian churches to indigenous people
Unformatted Document Text:  13 the realm of real action in the world (i.e., individuals disciplined a child in a particular way) and transform it into an abstracted state (“[foreign] disciplinary practices”). Similarly, ... the cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious imperialism (Oblate 1991) does not tell us what the imperialism consisted of, that is, what anyone did. It is worth noting here that noun forms can have agents: our insensitivity. (Presbyterian 1994) or omit them: We are sorry and deeply regret the pain, suffering, and alienation... (Catholic 1991) Units of Analysis Like most discourse, these six apologies did not consist of a few simple sentences devoted to one topic, with one subject and a single verb form. They often used complex sentence structures, and they addressed issues other than the offenses themselves (e.g., motivations, justifications, effects, and resolutions for the future). For example, an excerpt from a longer apology: To those individuals who were physically, sexually and mentally abused as students of the Indian Residential Schools in which The United Church of Canada was involved, I offer you our most sincere apology. You did nothing wrong. You were and are the victims of evil acts that cannot under any circumstances be justified or excused. We pray that you will hear the sincerity of our words today and that you will witness the living out of this apology in our actions in the future. (United 1998) The unit of analysis used here was the grammatical clause (whether dependent

Authors: Bavelas, Janet.
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13
the realm of real action in the world (i.e., individuals disciplined a child in a particular
way) and transform it into an abstracted state (“[foreign] disciplinary practices”).
Similarly,
... the cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious imperialism (Oblate 1991)
does not tell us what the imperialism consisted of, that is, what anyone did. It is worth
noting here that noun forms can have agents:
our insensitivity. (Presbyterian 1994)
or omit them:
We are sorry and deeply regret the pain, suffering, and alienation...
(Catholic 1991)
Units of Analysis
Like most discourse, these six apologies did not consist of a few simple
sentences devoted to one topic, with one subject and a single verb form. They often
used complex sentence structures, and they addressed issues other than the offenses
themselves (e.g., motivations, justifications, effects, and resolutions for the future). For
example, an excerpt from a longer apology:
To those individuals who were physically, sexually and mentally abused as students
of the Indian Residential Schools in which The United Church of Canada was
involved, I offer you our most sincere apology. You did nothing wrong. You were and
are the victims of evil acts that cannot under any circumstances be justified or
excused. We pray that you will hear the sincerity of our words today and that you
will witness the living out of this apology in our actions in the future. (United 1998)
The unit of analysis used here was the grammatical clause (whether dependent


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