A Taxonomy of Mitigation Devices in English Language

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Aso I. Ali
Salah M. Salih


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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Ali, A. I. and Salih, S. M. (2020) “A Taxonomy of Mitigation Devices in English Language”, Koya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(1), pp. 31-40. doi: 10.14500/kujhss.v3n1y2020.pp31-40.
Author Biographies

Aso I. Ali, Directorate of Quality Assurance, Presidency of Koya University, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Aso I. Ali. he has a B.A. degree in English Translation, Koya University, Kurdistan Region (2012), M.A. student in Linguistics, Koya University, Kurdistan Region (2020). he has resumed working as an employee at TQA Directorate, Koya University.

Salah M. Salih, Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Koya University, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Salah M. Salih is an assistant professor of Linguistics & English Language at the Department of English Language & Translation at Koya University. He gained his BA in English Language & Literature from Al-Anbar University in 1995; MA and Ph.D. in Linguistics and English Language from Baghdad University in 2000 and 2003 respectively. He started his academic teaching in 1995 when he worked as the Lab Assistant at Al-Anbar University. In 1996, he joined the Department of English, College of Arts, Baghdad University to pursue his MA and Ph.D. study and teach there as well, he worked as a lecturer in the Department of English Language in both the College of Arts and the College of Languages, Baghdad University during the academic years 1997-2003. In 2003-2005, he worked as an Asst. Prof. and the Head of the Department of English Language at the College of Education, Seyoun, Hadhramout University for Science and Technology, Republic of Yemen. 


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