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Language mitigation refers to strategies that people adopt to avoid face-threatening situations in conversation and thereby to linguistically repair the damage done to someone’s face by what one says or does. Previously, several studies investigating mitigation have been carried out from different perspectives, depending on the point of view adopted by each scholar. Some studies thus far have linked mitigation with politeness, whereas other studies have dealt with mitigation as an independent subject. Literature on mitigation abounds with reference to politeness strategies, euphemisms, hedges and other devices, yet there sounds to be no clear attempt to establish what substantiates mitigation. On this point, Caffi (2007, p.48) maintains that in politeness research, the notion of mitigation has so far mainly been used with reference to the set of strategies interlocutors employ to attenuate the impact of what Brown and Levinson (1987) call ‘face-threatening acts’ (FTAs). The present study is designed to develop a taxonomy of mitigation types, devices, functions and strategies adopted by English language users as interpersonal goals. It also provides additional evidence with respect to the use of mitigating devices to soften illocutionary force of speech acts which are unwelcome to addresses. As for mitigation devices, there are seven major devices: Indirect Speech Acts, Tag Questions, Parenthetical Verbs, Disclaimers, Impersonal Constructions, Hedges, and Euphemism, though this last type is not referred to as a main type in previous studies. The latter two types (Hedges and Euphemism) are the backbone of mitigation devices as they subsume a variety of forms and functions. Semantic procedures are the most effective ones as they result in less direct or understated meanings.
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