Sofia Beketova – Epistemic Components in the Structure of Analytical Articles

Nr. 18    Juli 2011 TRANS: Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften

Section | Sektion: Semantik, Diskurs und interkulturelle Kommunikation aus interdisziplinärer Perspektive

Epistemic Components in the Structure of Analytical Articles

Sofia Beketova (Pyatigorsk State Linguistic University, Russia) [BIO]


 Konferenzdokumentation |  Conference publication


This article is devoted to the study of modal elements with the meaning of true knowledge and uncertainty and their positional variation in the analytical article. It’s important to specify that analytical articles cover actual social and political events, phenomena and facts; the author tries to analyze the essence of development and importance of them and give solution to the concrete problems. Due to this fact, the information represented in these articles reflects the interaction of reality and the model of actual reality appears in them. So the author of analytical articles offers not only a ready model of the reality as a result of cognition to the reader, but also reveals the process of cognition, accustoming the audience to the proposed model of reality.

Any notional linguistic structure is based on modality, which includes the questions of attitudinal organization of language elements in the reality. The modal elements based on logical assumptions are epistemic components which denote the level of cognition about the proposition.

The position of epistemic elements in the text plays an important role in forming attitudinal – propositional content and in expressing certainty, from absolute “certainty” to “doubt” about the proposition. The author’s communicative intention is achieved by positional variation of modal components, based on semantical and pragmatical functions of propositional relations.

We are going to deal with predicate elements of epistemic modality that specify the speech situation and logically connect the propositional parts of the text. The position of the epistemic components denotes the level of certainty or doubt with respect to the proposition. Therefore the initial position of predicate modal elements intensifies their semantic notion and modifies the whole proposition. Using epistemic predicate markers in analytical articles the author achieves a definite result by his attitudinal and direct impact on the reader and indicates the importance of the problem or the situation.

It is important to state that epistemic predicate elements in the initial position denoting the personal position of the author and attitudinal propositional content intensify the semantic and cognitional aspects of the proposition. The propositional content is based not only on logical evaluation but also on emotional and pragmatical aspects. A modal epistemic predicate forms a logically coherent proposition and impacts on the reader explicating the propositional content:

I know from bitter experience that simply assuming politicians will do the right thing does not work; the only solution is to change the law and put a stop to the practice entirely (Guardian, 5, 2010).

Prepositional modal component intensifies the level of certainty due to its position and evaluates the information implicating the emotive notion of the proposition for achieving the author’s intention to this problem.

Epistemic element in the initial position can have impersonal view, so the semantic and cognitional aspects of the proposition recede:

Being virtuous is wonderful thing, but feeling virtuous is a shortcut to vice. That seems to be the moral of a fascinating piece of research by two Canadian psychologists, which suggests that the greener people are, the more likely they are to lie and cheat (Guardian, 2010).

This modal predicate construction explicates the proposition and forms logically connected events denoting the situation in a possible way.

A marked modal predicate specifies the importance of the problem or information which is central part of the propositional content in the particular context. Semantical and pragmatical aspects of this marker have a high level of their exposition and intensify the logical correlation between this modal element and the proposition. The marked epistemic predicate functions as a secondary confirmation, doubt or uncertainty to the proposition and implicates the evaluated information intensifying the pragmatical aspect of the proposition:

Even so, trade barriers limit a small percentage of commerce. A more powerful driver is the strength of domestic demand and currency fluctuations. To be sure, the rise in the euro’s value propelled China’s exports to European Union countries past its exports to the United States for the first time in February (New York Times, 15, 2007).

The modal element to be sure is logically connected to the previous part of the text and pragmatically explicates the semantical essence of the proposition forming the true statement.

An epistemic predicate can be used in the interposition and usually marked by comas for making the intensive logical correlation within the proposition. The author isolates the modal marker for the evaluation of the marked part of the proposition, which he considers to be the most important not only for him but also for the society.

Lord Ashcroft, as we now know, is one if the several members of the House of Lords who are what is called “non-doms” (Guardian, 5, 2010).

The epistemic structure we now know explicates and intensifies the informative part of the proposition that leads to the receding of the semantical and pragmatical aspects of this modal element. The adverb now correlates with the predicate of certainty, increasing the logical evaluation of the proposition, as this adverb has the meaning of result and resultant consequence, which is not fully explicated in the text.

The author’s intention can be achieved through certainty or supposition of the epistemic element, which is not marked by comas in the interposition. Such positional structure forms propositional attitudinal content due to the consequent events, one of which can be proved or disputed subject to semantical and cognitional aspects of this epistemic marker:

However, in recognition of the costs involved, the government has provided one-off funding to support the consultation and early set-up stages. This will include appointing an independent interim chair, and I’m sure I will be involved in the recruitment (Guardian, 14, 2010).

In this example the modal element I’m sure logically intensifies the next statement and expresses hope and expectation of the proposition for achieving pragmatical effect.

The position of the epistemic marker varies according to the intention of the author and this modal element can function in the postposition. Such positional characteristic denotes the essence of the proposition by means of deducible opinion which is based on logical assumptions of the author with the meaning of certainty or doubt.

He should like anyone – be free to choose where he wants to be domiciled for tax purposes. It would be both impractical and deeply illiberal to treat people with worldwide business interests the same way we do someone earning all their money in the UK, I suppose (Guardian, 5, 2010). 

The marked postpositional predicate semantically has a weak exposition, but implacably intensifies the pragmatical aspect, evaluating the whole proposition.

A non marked postpositional epistemic predicate explicates the resultant part of the proposition, which is specified by weak exposition of certainty or doubt:

Beside the clanking rigors of commerce and technology, our concerns about biodiversity sometimes appear almost effete. The major cause of extinction in most countries is habitat loss I think (Guardian, 2010, 18).

The epistemic predicate of supposition correlates with the resultant part of the proposition, filling it with the sense and logically stipulating the pragmatical aspect of the statement.

To sum it up, we indicate that positional structure of epistemic elements specifies the propositional attitudinal content of the analytical articles.



  • Averina A. V.: Epistemic modality as a language phenomenon. Moscow, 2010.
  • Palmer F. R.: Mood and modality. Cambridge, 1986.
  • Richards M.: Propositional Attitudes. Cambridge, 1990.
  • Zelenchicov A. V.: Proposition and modality. Moscow, 2009.


 Inhalt | Table of Contents Nr. 18

For quotation purposes:
Sofia Beketova: Epistemic Components in the Structure of Analytical Articles –
In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 18/2011.

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