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Qualifying standpoints: Stance adverbs as a presentational device for managing the burden of proof

The aim of this study is to specify the strategic function of stance adverbs when qualifying a standpoint in an argumentative discussion.

Assimakis Tseronis
28 October 2009
Full text in Leiden University Repository

Stance adverbs are words like ‘clearly’, ‘obviously’, ‘perhaps’, ‘technically’, ‘frankly’, and ‘fortunately’. They have been extensively studied in the fields of semantics and syntax as well as pragmatics and discourse analysis. However, they have not specifically been studied with an interest in their effect on the progress of an argumentative discussion when they are used to qualify the standpoint.

In this study a specific argumentative perspective is adopted, according to which the strategic function of stance adverbs is described with reference to the burden of proof that an arguer incurs when advancing a standpoint. In this view, an arguer chooses a particular way to qualify the standpoint in an attempt to successfully meet his obligation to defend the standpoint at the end of the argumentative discussion.

The proposed theoretical account provides a basis for assessing whether the use of a stance adverb to qualify a standpoint observes the standards that should be followed for a reasonable resolution of a difference of opinion. 

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