Styles of stance in English: Lexical and grammatical marking of evidentiality and affect

Douglas Biber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

615 Scopus citations


The present paper identifies and describes various speech styles of English as marked by stance. By stance we mean the lexical and grammatical expression of attitudes, feelings, judgments, or commitment concerning the propositional content of a message. In an earlier paper (Biber and Finegan, 1988), we limited our investigation to the adverbial marking of stance; here we extend the analysis to include adjectival, verbal, and modal markers of stance. All occurrences of a large set of stance markers are identified in 500 texts, drawn principally from the LOB and London-Lund corpora (of written and spoken British English). The stance markers are divided into 12 categories based on semantic and grammatical criteria, and the frequency of occurrence for each category in each text is computed. The twelve categories are (1) affect markers (adverbs, verbs, and adjectives); (2) certainty adverbs; (3) certainty verbs; (4) certainty adjectives; (5) doubt adverbs; (6) doubt verbs; (7) doubt adjectives; (8) hedges; (9) emphatics; (10) possibility modals; (11) necessity modals; and (12) predictive modals. Using a statistical technique called cluster analysis, texts that are maximally similar in their exploitation of stance markers are sorted into clusters. We interpret each cluster as a stance style by consideration of the predominant stance features in the cluster, the situational characteristics of the texts constituting the cluster, and a functional analysis of individual texts. Overall, six stance styles are identified, among which are ‘Emphatic Expression of Affect’, ‘Expository Expression of Doubt’ and ‘Faceless’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-124
Number of pages32
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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