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Lodz Papers in Pragmatics

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Stance and intersubjective positioning across scientific discourse genres: Negative and modal epistemic discourse strategies

Laura Hidalgo-Downing
  • Department of English, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Calle Tomás y Valiente 1, Campus de Cantoblanco, Madrid 28049, Spain
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Published Online: 2017-09-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lpp-2017-0004

Abstract

The present article explores stance and stancetaking in two genres of scientific discourse, by analysing the discourse-pragmatic functions of epistemic modals and negation. The semantics and pragmatics of modals in specialised discourses has been the focus of attention in recent years (Hyland 1998, 2008; Tarantino 2011; Peackock 2014, 2015; Gotti 2014); however, the function of negation remains understudied so far. The present article proposes an approach to stance and modality which encompasses both modal and negative meanings as functions in discourse (Halliday 1994; Givón 1993; Halliday and Matthiesen 2004; Martin and White 2005). A quantitative method based on keyword analysis is applied as a point of departure for the identification of modal and negative stance markers; this is followed by a qualitative analysis of the discourse-pragmatic functions. The analysis shows that, although epistemic modals and negation are used more frequently in the semi-formal corpus, the use of epistemic modals and of negation may be interpreted as shaping conventionalised discourse-specific patterns of stancetaking in the biomedical sciences. Results also show that although negation is less frequent in the formal corpus, the range and variety of functions is greater and more complex than in the semi-formal corpus, thus suggesting the important role played by negation in biomedical discourse, in particular, in the communication of new ideas and new findings.

Keywords: modality; negation; intersubjective positioning; scientific discourse; stance and stancetaking

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About the article

Published Online: 2017-09-02

Published in Print: 2017-08-28


Citation Information: Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, Volume 13, Issue 1, Pages 65–85, ISSN (Online) 1898-4436, ISSN (Print) 1895-6106, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lpp-2017-0004.

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