ISLE 5 Conference Workshops

3. Investigating stance constructions

Gunther Kaltenböck (University of Vienna, Austria), María José López-Couso & Belén Méndez-Naya (University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain)


Tuesday 17 July

14:30-14:40  Introduction: Setting the scene: Investigating stance constructions
14:40-15:00 John W. Du Bois - Additives with Attitude: The me-too construction and the Minimal Stance Differential
15:00-15:20 Evelien Keizer - Stance adverbs in Functional Discourse Grammar
15:20-15:40 Elizabeth Closs Traugott - Parenthetically it may be observed that… Are there discourse structuring stance markers as well as discourse structuring discourse markers?
15:40-15:55 Discussion
15:55-16:15 Coffee Break
16:15-16:35 Scott F. Kiesling - Investment in stancetaking: just sayin’ and I mean
16:35-16:55 An Van linden - The diachrony of stance constructions with ‘no’ chance and ‘no’ wonder
16:55-17:15 Diana Lewis - Speaker attitude and -ly adverbs over the Modern English period
17:15-17:30 Discussion
17:30 Commentary and discussion

All timings are approximate.


While the representational or referential function has traditionally been recognised as the main function of language, “language and communication are much more than the exchange of formal propositional material for purposes of conveying information” (Scheibman 2002: 9). In fact, as noted by Du Bois (2007: 139), “[o]ne of the most important things we do with words is take a stance”. Though a rather elusive notion, stance is commonly understood to refer to the way in which speakers express points of view, attitudes, feelings, and evaluations (e.g. Du Bois 2007; Finegan 1995; Lyons 1982; Ochs and Schieffelin 1989, among many others), positioning themselves in relation to some proposition (i.e. subjectivity) and to other speech participants (i.e. intersubjectivity).

Cross-linguistically, stance may be conveyed through different means, ranging from grammatical and lexical devices to paralinguistic (loudness, pitch, duration) and non-linguistic ones (gestures, facial expression). Semantically, too, stance may cover a range of different categories, such as epistemic (e.g. probably, it is possible that), attitudinal (surprisingly, it is important that), and style of speaking (e.g. honestly, to be brief) (e.g. Biber et al. 1999: 972).

Stancetaking has been studied from various angles, among others text and discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, conversation analysis, interactional linguistics, sociocultural linguistics, and under various other guises, including evaluation (e.g. Conrad and Biber 2000; Hunston and Sinclair 2000; Hunston and Thompson 2000; Linde 1997), assessment (e.g. Goodwin and Goodwin 1992; Pomerantz 1984), appraisal (Martin 2000), and point of view (e.g. Berman 2005; Kärkkäinen 2003; Scheibman 2002).

While embracing a wide view of stance semantically and pragmatically, the focus of the workshop is restricted to the grammatical expression of stance, thus leaving aside, for instance, lexical marking of stance through the choice of affective or evaluative words (e.g. I’m happy; I love that film). Our definition of grammatical stance devices follows Biber et al.’s (1999: 969) in including “two distinct linguistic components, one presenting the stance and the other presenting a proposition that is framed by that stance”. To increase cohesion, particular emphasis will be given to two types of grammatical stance devices, viz. stance adverbials and stance complement clauses (Biber et al. 1999: 969), as illustrated by the examples in (1) and (2) respectively, in which the stance component can be structurally separated from the proposition, as in (1a-c), or integrated in clause structure, as in (1d).

  1. a. Fortunately, they were able to regain control of the cockpit (COCA:spoken)
    b. In actual fact, there was no mistake made (BNC:meeting)
    c. As you know, I supported your nomination (COCA:spoken)
    d. The term glog is possibly a combination of graphics and log (COCA:academic)
  2. a. I hope everything works out (COCA:spoken)
    b. It happens that I have voted for three Republicans in my life (COCA:spoken)
    c. It’s funny that he used the same words (COCA:fiction)

The purpose of the workshop is thus to bring together descriptions of specific stance constructions from a range of different perspectives: formal and functional, synchronic and diachronic, as well as more theoretical takes on stance. The aim is to enhance our understanding of how stance is conventionally expressed in grammar, its function in discourse, how stance constructions emerge, and how they can be accounted for in a grammatical model (cf., e.g., 'thetical grammar'; Kaltenböck et al. 2011). While trying to keep a broad perspective, we particularly invite contributions within a cognitive-functional framework and qualitative as well as quantitative analyses of naturally occurring language data.

More specific issues to be addressed include the following:

  • The use of stance constructions in text and discourse; e.g. turn-taking, cohesion
  • Theoretical modelling of stance constructions in a grammar
  • The positioning of stance expressions with regard to the host construction; e.g. left/right-periphery, interpolation
  • Diachronic processes involved in the emergence and development of stance constructions; e.g. grammaticalization, subjectification, adverbialization, dependency shift, cooptation, etc.
  • Extra-clausal expressions of stance (e.g. parentheticals, supplements, disjuncts) vs. intra-clausal expressions of stance (e.g. adverbials)
  • Issues of syntactic categorisation such as the distinction between main clauses and syntactically independent (parenthetical) pragmatic markers, e.g. I think (cf. Thompson 2002)
  • The relative degree of discourse prominence (primary vs. secondary) in main clause + complement clause structures (Boye and Harder 2007)
  • The attribution of stance (explicit vs. implicit, speaker/writer vs. some third party) (Biber et al. 1999: 976-978)


Berman, R.A. 2005. Introduction: Developing discourse stance in different text types and languages. Journal of Pragmatics 37: 105-124.

Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S. and Finegan, E. 1999. Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Harlow: Longman.

Boye, K. and Harder, P. 2007. Complement-taking predicates: usage and linguistic structure. Studies in Language 31 (3): 569-606.

Conrad, S. and Biber, D. 2000. Adverbial marking of stance in speech and writing. In S. Hunston and G. Thompson (eds.). Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 56-73.

Du Bois, J.W. 2007. The stance triangle. In R. Englebretson (ed.). Stancetaking in Discourse. Subjectivity, Evaluation, Interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 139- 182.

Finegan, E. 1995. Subjectivity and subjectification: An introduction. In D. Stein and S. Wright (eds.). Subjectivity and Subjectification: Linguistic Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1-15.

Goodwin, C. and Goodwin, M.H. 1992. Assessments and the construction of context. In A. Duranti and C. Goodwin (eds.). Rethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 147-189.

Hunston, S. and Sinclair, J.M. 2000. A local grammar of evaluation. In S. Hunston and G. Thompson (eds.). Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 74-101.

Hunston, S. and Thompson, G. 2000. Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kaltenböck, G., Heine, B. and Kuteva, T. 2011. On thetical grammar. Studies in Language 35 (4): 848-893.

Kärkkäinen, E. 2003. Epistemic Stance in English Conversation: A Description of its Interactional Functions, with a Focus on I think. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Linde, C. 1997. Evaluation as linguistic structure and social practice. In B.-L. Gunnarsson, P. Linell and B. Nordberg (eds.). The Construction of Professional Discourse. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 151-172.

Lyons, J. 1982. Deixis and subjectivity: Loquor, ergo sum?. In R.J. Jarvella and W. Klein (eds.). Speech, Place, and Action: Studies in Deixis and Related Topics. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 101-124.

Martin, J.R. 2000. Beyond exchange: APPRAISAL systems in English. In S. Hunston and G. Thompson (eds.) Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 142-175.

Ochs, E. and Schieffelin, B. 1989. Language has a heart: The pragmatics of affect. Text 9 (1): 7-25.

Pomerantz, A. 1984. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features found in preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. In J.M. Atkinson and J. Heritage (eds.). Structures of Social Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 57-101.

Scheibman, J. 2002. Point of View and Grammar. Structural Patterns of Subjectivity in American English Conversation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Thompson, S. A. 2002. ‘Object complements’ and conversation. Towards a realistic account. Studies in Language 26 (1): 125-164.

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This page last modified 22 May, 2018 by Survey Web Administrator.