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Summary Details


Query:   (Un)certainty
Author:  Henny Klein
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Discourse Analysis
Semantics

Summary:   SUMMARY: (UN)CERTAINTY

THE QUESTION:
WE WORK AT A PROJECT OF INFORMATION RETRIEVAL IN THE MEDICAL FIELD.
RIGHT NOW, WE (TRY TO) DEVELOP METHODS TO INDICATE HOW CERTAIN THE
WRITERS OF SCIENTIFIC TEXTS ARE ABOUT PHENOMENA THEY DISCUSS, SUCH AS
THE FYSIOLOGICAL OR CLINICAL EFFECT OF A MEDICINE. IN A FIRST
SCREENING OF TEXTS WE HAVE FOUND ALL SORTS OF LEXICAL CLUES THAT MAY
BE USED TO ASSESS THIS CERTAINTY, LIKE ADVERBS OF DEGREE, MODAL VERBS
(MAY, MUST), CERTAIN OTHER GROUPS OF VERBS (DOUBT, SUGGEST, CONCLUDE),
AND MODIFICATION OPERATORS (ALTHOUGH, ESPECIALLY). OF COURSE WE ARE
NOT THE FIRST INTERESTED IN HOW PEOPLE EXPRESS THE CERTAINTY OF THEIR
STATEMENTS, AND HOW SUCH EXPRESSIONS CAN BE SCALED, SO WE WANT TO
SEARCH THE LITERATURE. THE FIELDS OF LINGUISTICS THAT MAY BE OF
INTEREST TO US SEEM MANYFOLD (LEXICAL SEMANTICS, DISCOURSE ANALYSIS,
INFORMATION RETRIEVAL?), SO WE FEEL IT IS DIFFICULT TO START AND EASY
TO MISS IMPORTANT INFORMATION. I SHOULD APPRECIATE IT VERY MUCH IF YOU
COULD HELP US WITH SUGGESTIONS OF BOOKS AND PAPERS THAT DEAL WITH THE
LINGUISTIC MEANS TO CONVEY (UN)CERTAINTY ABOUT FACTS AND IDEAS.

THE ANSWERS:
LINGUIST WAS A GREAT HELP, I GOT MANY REFERENCES AND READING THOSE
FOUND OTHERS AGAIN, SO I DEFINITELY FEEL GROUND UNDER MY FEET (BUT OF
COURSE MORE SUGGESTIONS ARE WELCOME). I AM VERY GRATEFUL TO THE
RESPONDENTS:
PROF. R.M. CHANDLER-BURNS
JAMES A. DANOWSKI
SARAH DAVIES
DAVID HOUGHTON
HENK PANDER MAAT
MICHAEL PERKINS
LINDA STUMP RASHIDI
GISELA REDEKER
/ SUSAN SCOTT
ANDREAS SCHRAMM
FIONA TWEEDIE
PAUL X
EXPRESSIONS OF (UN)CERTAINTY ARE ON THE ONE HAND DISCUSSED AS
EPISTEMIC MODALITY, AND ON THE OTHER HAND LINKED TO PRAGMATIC
FUNCTIONS SUCH AS HEDGING AND FACE-SAVING. THE REFERENCES INCLUDE
STUDIES ON MODALITY IN GENERAL AS WELL AS STUDIES ABOUT SCIENTIFIC
(AND EVEN ESPECIALLY MEDICAL) DISCOURSE. SOME REFERENCES I GOT MORE
THAN ONCE, SO I MADE ONE LIST OF THEM, INCLUDING BOOKS/PAPERS I FOUND
MYSELF. COMMENTS AS GIVEN ARE ADDED, SOMETIMES I PROVIDE A SHORT
SUMMARY. THE REFERENCES ARE ALFABETICALLY, WITH EXCEPTION OF SOME
RELATED BY COMMENTS. JIM DANOWSKI SEND ME A LONG LIST OF REFERENCES TO
`LANGUAGE INTENSITY', SINCE THIS SEEMS A SEPARATE - THOUGH CERTAINLY
RELATED - SUBJECT THESE ARE ATTACHED AT THE END OF THE LIST BELOW.

REFERENCES:

ADAMS-SMITH, D.E. (1984). MEDICAL DISCOURSE: ASPECTS OF AUTHOR'S
COMMENT. THE ESP JOURNAL 3 (1984) 25-36. THE OCCURRENCE OF
SUBJECTIVE STATEMENTS IN MEDICAL TEXTS: DIFFERENCES BETWEEN
CATEGORIES OF ARTICLES (CLINICAL CASE NOTES, RESEARCH PAPERS AND
EDITORIALS), DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SECTIONS (METHODS/RESULTS/REPORTS
VERSUS DISCUSSION/COMMENT)

BIBER, D., & FINEGAN, E. (1988). ADVERBIAL STANCE TYPES IN ENGLISH.
DISCOURSE PROCESSES, 11,1-34.
(STANCE: THE LEXICAL AND GRAMMATICAL EXPRESSION OF ATTITUDES,
FEELINGS, JUDGMENTS OR COMMITMENTS CONCERNING THE PROPOSITIONAL
CONTENT OF A MESSAGE HK)
ONE THING THE 1988 ARTICLE NOTES IS THAT PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY WHEN PUT
ON THE SPOT, TEND TO USE CERTAINTY ADVERBS

LL Issue: 9.329
Date Posted: 05-Mar-1998
Original Query: Read original query