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Sort of and kind of in political discourse: Hedge, head of NP or contextualization cue?

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Chapter Summary

This contribution argues for an integrated approach to the analysis of sort of / kind of, assigning them the status of contextualization cues. It combines quantitative with qualitative, context-sensitive methodologies accounting for distribution, function and co-occurrence. The spoken data comprise ten political speeches (35,844 words) and 22 political interviews (150,044 words), displaying the constructions [DET ADJ sort of / kind of NP], [DET sort of NP], [QUANTIFIER sort of / kind of NP], [sort of / kind of VP]. The local linguistic context of sort of / kind of contains discourse markers, other hedges, interpersonal markers, question tags and relative clauses. Sort of / kind of also co-occur with expressions of epistemic modality realized through modal verbs and modal adverbs, and with cognitive verbs and verbs of communication used as parentheticals. Their most frequent and thus unmarked variant is the more-fuzzy function which co-occurs with other devices expressing indeterminacy. Their marked variant is the less-fuzzy function, which is fronted or co-occurs with relative clauses.



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