ERIC Number: ED395530
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992
Reference Count: N/A
Modality as a Strategy in Interaction: Epistemic Modality in the Language of Native and Non-Native Speakers of English.
Pragmatics and Language Learning, v3 p197-216 1992
The study focused on problems that Finnish learners of English (NNS) encounter with epistemic modality in conversational interaction with native speakers of English (NS). Epistemic modality refers to modal expressions that convey the speaker's commitment to the truth of the propositions he is expressing (e.g., "surely he understands..."). Data were drawn from 48 simulated task-oriented conversations between an NNS and an NS. It was hypothesized that epistemic modality has a bearing on the rhetorical force of the utterance, therefore having a strategic function in discourse. It was found difficult to apply a modified speech-act approach to data analysis, so the unit of analysis was extended to a sequence of discourse in which a face-threatening issue arose and was discussed, and at least a preliminary agreement was reached. Occurrence and co-occurrence of epistemic items were examined in these sequences. Three types of strategic functions for epistemic modality were discerned: on-the-record and conventionalized, as a politeness strategy; off- or on-the-record, as a face-saving strategy; and off-the-record, as a persuasion and manipulation strategy. It was found that NNSs use fewer epistemic expressions and favor different types than do NSs. Pedagogical implications are discussed. (MSE)
Descriptors: Comparative Analysis, Discourse Analysis, English (Second Language), Finnish, Foreign Countries, Interaction, Interpersonal Communication, Language Patterns, Language Research, Linguistic Theory, Native Speakers, Persuasive Discourse, Pragmatics, Second Language Learning, Uncommonly Taught Languages
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Modality (Grammar); Politeness
Note: For complete volume, see FL 023 890.