1st Edition

Linguistic Mitigation in English and Spanish
How Speakers Attenuate Expressions

ISBN 9781138584655
Published February 13, 2020 by Routledge
256 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

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.

Table of Contents



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



View More



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.