The role of negative-modal synergies in Charles Darwin’s <i>The Origin of Species</i>
This chapter explores the role of negative-modal synergies in the expression of authorial stance and intersubjective positioning in Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. As markers of stance, both negation and modality contribute to the expression of evaluation in discourse, though little attention has been paid to the co-occurrence of both types of markers. Drawing on corpus-based methods, I first identify the recurrent discourse pattern which gives rise to a semantic prosody of negative-modal meaning throughout The Origin of Species as compared to Voyage of the Beagle. Second, I discuss how this discourse pattern reflects Darwin’s positioning in the presentation of his Theory of Natural Selection. An analysis of the resources which express intersubjective positioning reveals the tension between conflicting goals in Darwin’s presentation of his new theory, namely, the expression of certainty regarding his insights and discoveries and the need to be cautious in communicating them. Thus, the various patterns of (co)-occurrence of negation, modality and personal pronouns construe specific authorial positions against the backdrop of competing scientific theories and in anticipation of readers’ potential disagreement.