The role of negative-modal synergies in Charles Darwin&#8217;s <i>The Origin of Species</i>

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This chapter explores the role of negative-modal synergies in the expression of authorial stance and intersubjective positioning in Charles Darwin&#8217;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&#8217;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&#8217;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&#8217; potential disagreement.


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