3. Emphatics in academic discourse: Integrating corpus and discourse tools in the study of cross-disciplinary variation
The role played by mitigation in academic discourse has been widely debated in the literature, but little attention has been paid to emphatics, expressions used to intensify the degree of certainty of an utterance and to increase its illocutionary force. Focusing on the use of adverbs in journal articles and on their evaluative orientations/parameters, the chapter looks at how their frequencies, meanings and uses vary across two “soft” disciplines: history and economics. The study combines a corpus and a discourse perspective, and shows that emphatics signal “engagement” as well as “stance”, by positioning research in the context of disciplinary debate, highlighting the significance of the data or the conclusions produced, negotiating convergent or conflicting positions with the reader.