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This paper looks at uses and pragmatic functions of five hypothetic clauses used parenthetically in Late Latin to soften the illocutionary force of potentially face-threatening acts such as orders and requests. Specifically, the data show that these politeness markers typically mitigate a very specific type of interactional move, i.e., meta-textual proposals with topic-management, turn-yielding, and discourseorganizational concerns. Moreover, the corpus-based study has revealed that they are found above all in Augustine’s philosophical dialogues. Evidence from earlier research has shown, on the other hand, that in Classical Latin si placet was used almost exclusively in Cicero’s philosophical dialogues: this suggests a process of imitation within a very specific discourse tradition, where these markers are perceived as a stylistic feature typical of urbane conversations among educated friends.

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