Epistemic modality and hedging

None of the pupils in this discussion exploits the ambiguity of epistemic modality to negotiate the areas where there is strong disagreement. B5 and G4 use a competitive form, a "yes it is / no it isn't" pattern of discussion.

73. B5: that is a hand there

74. B5: =that is a

G4: it's not a hand if you look at it closely=

75. B5: hand

77. G4: it's not a hand though

Although initially in the discussion B5 uses some epistemic modal forms, for the most part he makes completely unsoftened propositions, and unmitigated contradictions of other speakers. G4 uses some hedges in the later exchanges, but not to a great extent. Both G4 and B5 respond competitively to their present context with the use of unmitigated, and often aggravated, disagreement.

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