Cultural standing in expression of opinion

Claudia Strauss, Pitzer College

Previously linked to as:,258


This article explores an underappreciated pragmatic constraint on the expression of opinions: When expressing an opinion on a topic that has been previously discussed, a speaker should correctly indicate the cultural standing of that view in the relevant opinion community. This Bakhtinian approach to discourse analysis is contrasted with conversation analysis, politeness theory (Brown & Levinson, 1987), and analysis of epistemic modality. Finally, indicators of four points on the cultural standing continuum (highly controversial, debatable, common opinion, and taken for granted) are illustrated with examples from American English usage.