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Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication

Ed. by Piller, Ingrid

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Volume 32, Issue 1


Denuncio pero lo lamento …’: Attitudinal hedges and the pragmatics of the explicitly performative verb in Spanish

Miranda Stewart
Published Online: 2013-01-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2013-0002


There has been considerable research both intra- and inter-linguistically on hedging in a variety of languages (e.g. Myers 1989; Markannen & Schröder 1997; Hyland 2005), primarily concentrating on its use in academic writing and identifying cultural differences in the propensity to hedge between different communities of practice. Furthermore, much research carried out heretofore into verbal hedges has concentrated on cognitive hedges that qualify true/false statements such as ‘I think’, creo, je pense, etc. and has neglected the use of explicit performative verbs such as denuncio (‘I denounce’). Indeed, politeness theorists Brown & Levinson (1987: 190) suggest that the use of this type of verb is not frequent arguing that forms like ‘“I tell you that it is so” … are conversationally unusual in contrast to the more expectable “It is so𠇜’. They explain this tendency by arguing that a speaker will want to reduce threat to face by avoiding the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘you’ and suggest that motivations of politeness will override considerations of clarity. It may be that this tendency is culture specific rather than being a universal practice. This article explores the exploitation of explicitly performative hedges on speech acts in Spanish and their role in ostensibly putting on record metalinguistically the illocutionary force of the speech act. It will be argued that the apparent clarity that these hedges provide may mask a deeper ambivalence and provide a strategic tool for speakers in their negotiation of face.

Keywords: cross-cultural; performativity; Spanish; speech acts; hedges; face

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Published Online: 2013-01-25

Published in Print: 2013-01-24

Citation Information: Multilingua, Volume 32, Issue 1, Pages 33–50, ISSN (Online) 1613-3684, ISSN (Print) 0167-8507, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/multi-2013-0002.

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