Argumentation 14 (4):425-445 (2000)

Examining discourse markers in two transcribed discussions of controversial issues in an undergraduate 'critical thinking' class, we note frequent uses of 'I'm just saying' and related metadiscursive expressions . Our central claim is that these 'saying' expressions are pragmatic devices by which speakers claim 'all along' to have held a consistent argumentative standpoint, one that continues through the discussion unless changed for good reasons. Through close analysis of a series of discourse examples, we show how these discourse markers are used to display continuity, deflect counterarguments, and acknowledge the force of counterarguments while preserving continuity. In a concluding section we reflect critically on the use of these continuity markers with regard to four pragmatic functions that they potentially serve: to specify and clarify argumentative standpoints, to acknowledge a presumption of standpoint continuity, to acknowledge a normative expectation that discussion participants should have standpoints, and to avoid overt disagreement while saving face.
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DOI 10.1023/A:1007880826834
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