Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Lodz Papers in Pragmatics

Founded by Cap, Piotr

Editor-in-Chief: Chilton, Paul / Kopytowska, Monika

2 Issues per year

CiteScore 2017: 0.35

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.249
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.074

See all formats and pricing
More options …

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
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-09-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lpp-2017-0004


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


  • Biber, Douglas, Stig Johansson, Geoffrey Leech, Susan Conrad & Edward Finegan. 1999. The Longman grammar of spoken and written English. London: Longman.Google Scholar

  • Du Bois, Jean W. 2007. The stance triangle. In Robert Englebreston (ed.), Stancetaking in discourse, 139–182. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Downing, Angela & Phillip Locke. 2006. A university course in English grammar (2nd edn.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Englebretson, Robert (ed.). 2007. Stancetaking in discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Givón, Talmy. 1993. English grammar: a function-based introduction, I & II. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Gotti, Maurizio. 2014. Reformulation and recontextualization in popularization discourse. Ibérica 27. 15–34.Google Scholar

  • Halliday, M.A.K. 1994. An introduction to functional grammar (2nd edn.). London: Arnold.Google Scholar

  • Halliday, M.A.K. & C.M.I.M Matthiesen. 2004. An introduction to functional grammar (3rd edn.). London: Arnold.Google Scholar

  • Hidalgo Downing, Laura. 2014. The role of negative-modal synergies in Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. In Geoff Thompson & Laura Alba-Juez (eds.), Evaluation in discourse, 259–279. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Hidalgo-Downing, Laura. 2017. Evidential and epistemic stance strategies in scientific communication: A corpus study of semi-formal and expert publications. In Juana Marín-Arrese, Gerda Haβler & Marta Carretero (eds.), Evidentiality revisited. cognitive grammar, functional and discourse-pragmatic perspectives, 391–432. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Hidalgo-Downing, Laura & Begoña Núñez-Perucha. 2013. Modality and personal pronouns as indexical markers of stance: Intersubjective positioning and construction of public identity in media interviews. In Juana Marín-Arrese, Marta Carretero, Jorge Arús & Johan van der Auwera (eds.), English modality: core, periphery and evidentiality, 379–410. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Horvitz, Herbert Robert. 2003. Nobel lecture. Worms, life and death. Biosci Rep Dev 23. 239–303.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hyland, Ken. 1998. Hedging in scientific research articles. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Hyland, Ken. 2008. Genre and academic writing in the disciplines. Language Teaching 41. 543–562.Google Scholar

  • Hunston, Susan & Geoff Thompson (eds.). 2000. Evaluation in text: authorial stance and the construction of discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Jordan, Michael. 1998. The power of negation in English: Text, context and relevance. Journal of Pragmatics 29. 705–752.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Leinfeller, Elisabeth. 1994. The broader perspective of negation. Journal of Literary Semantics 13(2). 77–98.Google Scholar

  • Marín-Arrese, Juana. 2004. Evidential and epistemic qualifications in the discourse of fact and opinion: A comparable corpus study. In Juana Marín-Arrese (ed.), Perspectives on evidentiality and modality, 153–184. Madrid: Publicaciones de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid.Google Scholar

  • Marín-Arrese, Juana. 2015. Epistemicity and stance: a cross-linguistic study of epistemic stance strategies in journalistic discourse in English and Spanish. Discourse Studies 17(2). 210–225.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Marín-Arrese, Juana & Begoña Núñez-Perucha. 2006. Evaluation and engagement in journalistic commentary and news reportage. Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses 19. 225–248.Google Scholar

  • Marín-Arrese, Juana, Marta Carretero, Jorge Arús Hita & Johan van der Auwera (eds.). 2013. English modality: Core, periphery and evidentiality. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

  • Marín-Arrese, Juana, Gerda Haβler & Marta Carretero (eds.). 2017. Evidentiality revisited. cognitive grammar, functional and discourse-pragmatic perspectives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Martin, James & Peter White. 2005. The Language of evaluation. Appraisal in English. New York: Palgrave.Google Scholar

  • Mushin, Ilana. 2012. “Watching for witness” Evidential strategies and epistemic authority in Garrwa conversation. Pragmatics and Society 3(2). 270–293.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Pagano, Adriana. 1994. Negatives in written text. In Malcolm Coulthard (ed.), Advances in written text analysis, 250–265. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Palmer, Frank. 2001. Mood and modality (2nd edn.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Peacock, Matthew. 2014. Modals in the construction of research articles: a crossdisciplinary perspective. Ibérica 27. 143–164.Google Scholar

  • Peacock, Matthew. 2015. Stance adverbials in research writing. Ibérica 29. 35–62.Google Scholar

  • Rayson, Paul. 2008. Wmatrix: A web-based corpus processing environment, Lancaster Computing Department. Lancaster University. (http://ucrel.lancs.ac.uk/wmatrix). Accessed on 19th April 2015.

  • Tarantino, Maria. 2011. Inter-subjectivity, cognition, nature and multimedia representations: modal categories in professional discourse. LSP & Professional Communication 2(1). 16–43.Google Scholar

  • Thompson, Geoff & Laura Alba-Juez (eds.). 2014. Evaluation in context. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

  • Werth, Paul. 1998. Text worlds. representing conceptual space in discourse. London: Longman.Google Scholar

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.

Export Citation

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in