<i>Kind of</i> and <i>sort of</i>

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Interpretation of the pragmatic discourse markers (PDMs) kind-of/sort-of depends on recognition of two megafunctions which each performs: evidential or textual, and affective or interpersonal. The use of these items is bound up with the degree of consciousness of the speaker to the communication in question and towards his or her choice of expression. The accommodation of each other&#8217;s face is part of everyday socialisation, and these needs and their fulfillment come about through the use of PDMs such as kind-of/sort-of in everyday speech. The examples to be discussed will show that, as evidentials, they downtone infelicitous expression, engender vagueness and mitigate uncertainty. As affectives, they enable speakers to negotiate their addressee&#8217;s as well as their own face, positive as well as negative, enhancing and upholding face as well as minimising or counteracting threat to face. As the examples show, these items are bound up with lexical, syntactic, and prosodic features. Applied to each of the 15 discourse situations which make up the corpus, the SPICE-Ireland annotation scheme is without precedent in its guidance towards an empirical unraveling of pragmatic intent.


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