Chapter 3. Pragmatic variation in therapeutic discourse

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Labov and Fanshel’s (1977) seminal study on therapeutic discourse posits that the therapeutic interview contains general rules and patterns of face-to-face interaction that lend themselves to the examination of mitigation. This study investigates mitigation phenomena (e.g. bushes, shields) and indirectness in Spanish in an institutional setting to determine whether these are pragmatically motivated. The corpus was generated during motivational interviews in which Dominican clients and a Cuban therapist discussed depression and medication. Studies have attested to pragmatic variation with regard to ways in which mitigation and indirectness are expressed (e.g. Delbene 2004; Félix-Brasdefer 2010; Hernández-Flores 1999; Placencia 1996). Given these studies, this chapter reveals how indirectness is bolstered and corroborates the influence of several micro-social factors that mediate variation.


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