Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2213-8706
  • E-ISSN: 2213-8714
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This study investigates the discourse-pragmatic functions of the epistemic markers “seem” and “probably” in natural conversations of Mandarin Chinese. By examining 107 cases of and 152 cases of in sequential contexts, it demonstrates that both and are hedge expressions showing the speaker’s attitude of lack of commitment to the truthfulness of their own utterance, which is often driven by an intersubjective motivation.

As epistemic markers, tends to mitigate informational certainty that is based on the speaker’s personal but vague experience, while is often used to mitigate the assertiveness of the speaker’s personal speculation deduced from background knowledge, general knowledge or commonly accepted logic.

Further, this study claims that both and often serve as politeness devices to mitigate various Face Threatening Acts (FTAs) such as disconfirmation, disagreement or negative assessment. In either case, and are not merely epistemic markers revealing the speaker’s subjective uncertainty, but also serve as politeness markers for the purpose of intersubjectivity, and their multiple discourse-pragmatic usages are rooted in their semantic meanings, respectively.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): epistemic; intersubjectivity; mitigator; politeness; uncertainty
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