“Do I know what I don’t know?” The Communication of Non-Knowledge and Uncertain Knowledge in Science

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Published Nov 15, 2010
Nina Janich Lisa Rhein Anne Simmerling


Types of knowledge, the linguistic forms they take, and issues concerning the transfer of knowledge constitute major topics in contemporary LSP research. A new trend in non-linguistic
research is to focus on types of non-knowledge and their scientific and social relevance. Up to now, however, linguistic questions such as the following have been neglected: How do we cope with non-knowledge and uncertain knowledge in texts? What are the linguistic forms that enable us to distinguish between certain knowledge, uncertain knowledge and non-knowledge? The aim of this paper is to situate open linguistic issues within the field of research on ignorance and uncertainty and to outline a possible linguistic framework for this topic. The paper therefore discusses the communication of uncertain knowledge and non-knowledge in scientific texts from the following perspectives:
What are the open linguistic issues in this field? These may include, for example: Which linguistic forms are used to discuss and evaluate non-knowledge and in what ways are they
contingent upon specific genres, contexts and cultures? What are the conversational and social consequences for scientific texts and academic discourse? What are the researchers’
own commitments and in what ways do they anticipate possible future knowledge? Which methods and linguistic categories can help us to close this gap in LSP research? These may
include, for example, approaches adopted within stylistics and textual linguistics, discourse analysis, and cognitive linguistics.

How to Cite

Janich, Nina, Lisa Rhein, and Anne Simmerling. 2010. “‘Do I Know What I don’t know?’ The Communication of Non-Knowledge and Uncertain Knowledge in Science”. Fachsprache 32 (3-4):86-99. https://doi.org/10.24989/fs.v32i3-4.1392.
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