Litotes in English research articles: disciplinary variation across life and social sciences
- Číslo 30 
PublisherUniverzita Karlova, Filozofická fakulta
SourceLinguistica Pragensia, 2020, 1, 51-70
academic discourse, disciplinary variation, litotes, research articles, understatement
, , , ,
This paper reports on an analysis of litotes in English research articles from two distant fields, life and social sciences. As a device for understatement, litotes denies the semantic opposite of what is meant to mitigate the literal content of the utterance. This feature makes litotes a useful means of academic communication which should remain cautious in tone and impartial. However, the results of the analysis reveal disciplinary variation in the frequency, structural types and syntactic functions of such constructions in the considered discipline-specific expert writing. The social sciences texts use twice as many litotes as the life sciences texts, and show a greater functional variation of litotes. There are also dissimilarities in the specific patterns by means of which the analysed structural types of litotes are realised.