Epistemic modality and hedging

The discussion contains periodic but not plentiful hedges, and very few epistemic modal forms. The hedges fall at fairly regular intervals throughout the discussion, rather than clustering around potentially contentious areas. Speakers in the group use hedges to different extents: B9 and G12 use proportionally far more hedges than G11 and B8. G12 uses on average one hedge in every 14 words she utters (7 hedges in 95 words), while B9 uses one hedge in every 17 word he utters (11 hedges in 194 words). B8 does not use hedges or epistemic modality, though he does indicate tentativeness to an extent with false starts and repetitions, for example, at lines 12-13.

12. B8: (1) do (.) do you think so (.) because

13. B8: (.) he doesn't (.) Bamforth (.) he doesn't stop Bamforth

14. B8: from doing it (.) Bamforth still (1) keeps (1) going on

G11 uses only 1 hedge in every 55 words she utters (7 hedges in her entire contribution of 383 words); she sometimes uses sort of and I think to hedge her statements, but more frequently does not hedge them, as at lines 35-36, where she disagrees with G12:

34. G12: (.) you know (.) there was Bamforth sort of the brightest

35. G11: =he eventually put

G12: one and he didn't really stop him much=

36. G11: Bamforth in his place though (.) he gave him a larger

37. B8: =mmm

B9: =that's right

G11: lecture =

Speakers do not commonly use hedges and epistemic modal forms to negotiate topics, therefore, and with regards to these features, the discussion is non-co-operative. G11 and B8 are particularly non-co- operative in this respect.

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