Project aims

The Es.VaG.Atenuación project aims to be the continuity of the previous project  Es.Var.Atenuación, which has been culminated in 2016, laid the foundation for the methodological and theoretical description of attenuation, both within dialects and cross-dialectally in Spanish. However, the project itself has opened new theoretical lines that highlight the urgent need for a wider variationist perspective that considers not only diatopic but also (and especially) cross-generic variation, and contemplates the impact of discourse genres in  the formal setting and the pragmatic functions of attenuation.

Thus, based on the results of the previous project, and considering the awaiting theoretical needs identified in the work generated within it, the project Es.VaG.Atenuacion starts from the general hypothesis that the use and expression of pragmatic attenuation varies from one genre to another. Hence, the formal expression of attenuation and their functions in each genre might become defining features of the genre. We claim that attenuation, being a strategic mechanism of interpersonal negotiation and rhetorical-argumentative persuasion (Briz 2007, Caffi 2007), has a major impact in human communication, and therefore constitutes a basic tool for achieving the interactional goals and for efficiently transmitting human messages.

Together with the previous hypothesis, Es.VaG.Atenuación continues with the hypothesis stated in the previous project, that there are differences in the functions, mechanisms and frequencies of attenuation depending on the different geolectal varieties of Spanish; however, the hypothesis of the new project results in a wider and newer perspective on diatopic variety: it is wider, for it aims to expand the search for attenuation patterns to new areas of Spanish. These new diatopic varieties, as well as the ones incorporated previously, will undergo a multidirectional intercomparison: one dialect of Spanish in different genres, or a single genre in several dialects. To this end, corpus of other genres/diaphasic varieties (oral and written) will be added to the conversational corpus mentioned.

According to these hypotheses, the project aims:

  1. To solve the theoretical and methodological issues still pending in the study of pragmatic attenuation, especially a) the obstacles that prevent its recognition in context and b) the boundaries with interconnected phenomena like evidentiality, which will be traced through the analysis of evidential forms in Spanish;
  2. To establish behavioural patterns of attenuation in a representative set of written and oral genres; these genres will be characterized according to their attenuating behaviour.
  3. To trace the diatopic map of attenuation in Spanish by applying aim (2) to different dialects of Spanish (in Spain and Latin America).