Metaphors and stance markers in register variation (MeStaR)


Date: 16-Jun-2022 to 17-Jun-2022
Location: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Due the pandemic situation, the workshop will take place as a hybrid event:
on-site and online via Zoom


Call deadline: 14-Mar-2022
Notification of acceptance: 30-Mar-2022


Markus Egg, Beate Lütke, Valia Kordoni, Milena Kühnast
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany

Invited Speakers:

Gudrun Reijnierse, Radboud University

Paola Uccelli, Harvard University


Call for papers


Interlocutors and their social relations constitute a central part of register, which is reflected e.g. in the ‘tenor’ feature in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) (Halliday & Hasan, 1985) or in Biber’s (2006b) dimension ‘involved vs. informational production’. Metadiscourse elements address this feature or dimension, allowing speakers or writers to interact with their audience in order to manage their mutual relation and to guide the audience in processing the discourse. These elements are constitutive for register and must be used appropriately in a specific constellation of interlocutors; at the same time, they allow the classification of discourse in terms of a specific register.

The workshop intends to deepen our understanding of such elements, focussing on two phenomena that are crucial for tenor, viz., metaphors and stance markers.

For metaphors, their relation to tenor was discussed in Goatly (1994, 2011), who correlates functions of metaphors with SFL features, e.g., if the interlocutors are of equal status and close, metaphors tend to be attitudinal and emotive. Also, Steen et al. (2010) attribute differences of metaphors to their respective registers (for news, conversation, fiction, and academic discourse). For instance, the informational registers use metaphor to express content to a much larger extent than conversation. There is also work on metaphor in specific registers, e.g., newspapers (Krennmayr, 2011), academic discourse (Beger, 2015; Herrmann, 2015), or fiction (Dorst, 2015).

Stance markers subsume different types of linguistic means, ranging from specific lexical items such as first and second person pronouns or epistemic adverbs and particles over inflectional and derivational morphology (e.g. diminutives) to syntactic constructions such as imperatives and questions (Biber, 2006a; Hyland, 2005). Research on the distribution of stance markers across registers provides evidence not only for their salience in conversational discourses as a means of indicating speaker’s involvement and fostering addressee’s engagement (Goulart et al., 2020; Qin & Uccelli, 2019). Speakers and writers also use these markers to create interactional identities according to the communicative purposes in contexts with varying degrees of formality (Barbieri, 2015). In written informational discourses, these markers allow writers to convey a credible picture of themselves as members of professional and scientific communities and to develop and manage the social and epistemic common ground with their audiences (Hyland, 2010).

We are interested in the way these two phenomena serve to create and modulate register dimensions, for instance, degrees of conceptual orality and literacy and social relations between the interlocutors. For both types of phenomena, their influence on register is closely tied to their semantic contribution, hence, we expect their comparison to yield further insights into metalinguistic strategies of register administration.

Questions include, but are not restricted to the following:

  • How do metaphors and/or stance markers contribute to establishing and signalling specific registers (including academic language and languages for specific purposes)?
  • How are metaphors and/or stance markers as register markers acquired and how do they change over time?
  • What is the relation between metaphors and stance markers in the field of register?
  • Do metaphors and/or stance markers play a different role in register across languages?

We especially welcome empirical studies, experimental as well as corpus-based ones.


Format of the Abstracts: Authors should submit anonymous abstracts of max. 500 words excluding figures and references to References should be formatted according to the APA 7th guidelines. Abstracts will be peer reviewed. Talks will be given 30-minute slots excluding discussion.



Barbieri, F. (2015). Involvement in university classroom discourse: Register variation and interactivity. Applied Linguistics, 36(2), 151-173.

Beger, A. (2015). Metaphors in psychology genres: Counseling vs. academic lectures. In J. B. Herrmann & T. B. Sardinha (Eds.), Metaphor in specialist discourse (pp. 53-76). John Benjamins.

Biber, D. (2006a). Stance in spoken and written university registers. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 5(2), 97-116.

Biber, D. (2006b). University language: A corpus-based study of spoken and written registers. John Benjamins.

Dorst, A. G. (2015). More or different metaphors in fiction? A quantitative cross-register comparison. Language and Literature, 24(1), 3-22.

Goatly, A. (1994). Register and the redemption of relevance theory: The case of metaphor. Pragmatics, 4(2), 139-181.

Goatly, A. (2011). The language of metaphors (2. ed.). Routledge.

Goulart, L., Gray, B., Staples, S., Black, A., Shelton, A., Biber, D., Egbert, J., & Wizner, S. (2020). Linguistic perspectives on register. Annual Review of Linguistics, 6(1), 435-455.

Halliday, M. A. K., & Hasan, R. (1985). Language, context, and text: Aspects of language in a social-semiotic perspective. Deakin University Press.

Herrmann, J. B. (2015). High on metaphor, low on simile? An examination of metaphor type in sub-registers of academic prose. In J. B. Herrmann & T. B. Sardinha (Eds.), Metaphor in specialist discourse (pp. 163-190). John Benjamins.

Hyland, K. (2005). Metadiscourse: Exploring interaction in writing. Continuum.

Hyland, K. (2010). Mapping Interactions in Academic Writing. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 9(2), 125-143.

Krennmayr, T. (2011). Metaphor in newspapers. (PhD thesis). Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Qin, W., & Uccelli, P. (2019, 2019/01/01/). Metadiscourse: Variation across communicative contexts. Journal of Pragmatics, 139, 22-39.

Steen, G. J., Dorst, A. G., Herrmann, J. B., Kaal, A., Krennmayr, T., & Pasma, T. (2010). A method for linguistic metaphor identification: From MIP to MIPVU. John Benjamins.


Funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – SFB 1412, 416591334 (