1st Edition

Linguistic Mitigation in English and Spanish How Speakers Attenuate Expressions

By Nydia Flores Copyright 2020
    256 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    256 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume offers a comprehensive examination of mitigation in speech in English and Spanish, exploring how it is defined and theorized and the various linguistic features employed to soften or downgrade the impact of a particular message across a range of settings. Building on the body of work done on mitigation in English, the book begins by discussing how it has been conceptualized in the literature, drawing on politeness theory among other perspectives from pragmatics, and highlighting increasing research on these topics in native and bilingual Spanish speakers and learners of Spanish. The volume explores examples from a variety of discursive contexts, including institutions, courts, and classrooms, to unpack mitigation as it occurs in spontaneous speech through different lenses, looking both at the actual units of discourse but also taking a broader view by examining differences across dialects as well. The book also looks at the ways in which conclusions drawn from this research might be applied pedagogically in language learning classrooms. This volume will serve as a jumping-off point for broader discussion in the field of mitigation and will be of particular interest to graduate students and researchers in pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and discourse analysis, in addition to learners and pre-service teachers of Spanish.



    Chapter 1 Linguistic mitigation

    A brief on mitigation

    Mitigation in socio-pragmatics

    Mitigation and vagueness and indirectness



    Chapter 2 Empirical research on mitigation in English and Spanish

    Research on mitigation in English

    Earlier research on strategies and devices

    Several comparative studies of English and Spanish mitigation

    Silence and discourse markers

    Mitigation in literature

    Other interactions: parent-child, sign language

    Research on mitigation in Spanish

    Suggested universalized taxonomy



    Chapter 3 Several theoretical perspectives


    Speech Acts


    Socio-pragma-rhetorical cultural and affective

    Pragmatic variation



    Chapter 4 Detecting mitigation strategies and devices

    On detecting devices and strategies

    Discourses and mitigated expressions: Institutional and non-institutional talk

    Categories of mitigating devices, strategies



    Chapter 5 Putting it all together

    Mitigation strategies and devices

    Intensification vs. Mitigation



    Chapter 6 Methodological considerations

    The benefits of qualitative and quantitative approaches

    Identifying an appropriate corpus and data collection

    Elicitation methods: Oral narratives and conflict talk

    Metalinguistic awareness

    Coding data



    Chapter 7 Teaching language learners how to mitigate

    On teaching pragmatics

    Explicit instruction

    Sample presentation

    On teaching learners of Spanish and English how to mitigate

    Assessing the acquisition of mitigation: Instructional interventions

    Awareness building

    Variability in learner behavior



    Chapter 8 Bridging the gap between research and language instruction

    Recommendations to increase research and instruction in:

    Digital communication: A first step

    Naturally-occurring speech

    Institutional discursive settings

    A model to inform instruction and research

    Assessing acquisition in instructional settings

    Suggested initial instructional interventions



    Chapter 9 Concluding thoughts



    Nydia Flores-Ferrán is Associate Professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching in the Graduate School of Education and in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, USA.