Epistemic modality and hedging

Both speakers use hedges, although neither uses epistemic modal verb forms. The total number of hedges is similar for each girl: G9 uses 13 hedges compared to G10's 15 hedges. However, when the total amount of speech each girls produces is taken into account, G10 uses hedges proportionately more frequently than G9. Lines 48-51 below illustrate both speakers hedging:

48. G9: I mean it's good if somebody does that you know it's


49. G9: extra (.) it's good for them a.

G10: I know but (.) I mean this

50. G9:

G10: isn't really about a teacher's job is (.) it's what you

51. G9: = I suppose (.) so (2)

G10: would like in a good teacher =

G9's use of hedges also includes hedged agreement with G9 at line 51, a case where the hedge is not functioning co-operatively, but competitively, since it reduces the force of G9's agreement. In addition, G9 also makes four aggravated assertions, while G10 makes none:

1. G9: I think it's got to be

2. G9: that's what a teacher is for

5. G9: I think it's got to be number one

12. G9: that is what their job is

Overall, G9 is more competitive in the use of hedges, while G10 is more co-operative.

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