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“I think” in political speech

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Simon-Vandenbergen (2000: 61) concluded her study of I think in political discourse by noting the importance of further study of its prosodic realisation. Consequently, I investigate the prosodic realisations of I think in political debates. At the same time, I examine the lexico-grammatical form of the construction, and its surrounding co-text. My exploration confirmed that I think is frequent in political speech, and revealed that it projected four types of meanings. Three of the meanings occurred irrespective of the intonational choices, though prosody influenced the likelihood of the occurrence of a particular meaning. There was a greater likelihood of the speaker expressing a tentative statement if think was prominent/tonic. Intonational prominence on I explicitly warranted the source of the evaluation. When the construction did not contain an intonational prominence it tended to signal commitment to a proposition, or if followed by a filled pause or rhythmic disjunction a hesitation marker.

Affiliations: 1: Cardiff University, UK OGradyGN@cardiff.ac.uk

10.1163/18773109-00901006
/content/journals/10.1163/18773109-00901006
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/content/journals/10.1163/18773109-00901006
2017-01-01
2017-11-22

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