Language plays an important role to establish a good rapport among group members in any societies all around the globe. It serves as a medium of info exchange in human interactions. People can achieve their means of communication and avoid misunderstanding if they understand each other. The definition of language varies across different discipline because the object of analysis is necessarily different in each discipline. In Researching Language and Gender: a Critical review by Vasanta (2001) & Mills (1995), the two terms ‘language’ and ‘gender’ are said to be problematic when they occurs in isolation, and especially so when they are brought into conjunction.
People may use language for various purposes. However, they mainly use the language to fulfil their needs of social interests. In other words, they may manipulate language to express their thoughts or knowledge, intentions as well as their emotional state with other people. While, gender is implicated not only in race relations, in social stratifications, in legal codes and practices, and in academia, but that it also affects religion, family and workplace, aesthetic and moral values, social cognitive development, conception of self and so on (Mc Connel-Ginet,1988). Gender has also been the focus of a widespread struggle to change the material conditions and ideological frameworks of women’s (and men’s) live.
Statement of the Problem
There are still limited literatures about hedges usage in casual communication among Malaysian speakers. Hedges may intentionally or unintentionally be employed in both spoken and written language since they are crucially important in communication. Hedges help speakers and writers communicate more precisely the degree of accuracy and truth in assessments. It seems that when people are involved in conversations, they not only convey information, but they want to verify that how informative, true, relevant and perspicuous information is.
Hedging is the expression of tentativeness and possibility in language use and it is crucial to academic writing where statements are rarely made without subjective assessments of truth (Hayland, 1995). Besides that, hedging offers an appropriate attitude for offering a claim to the community (Myers, 1989).
A study that provides a detailed description of this phenomenon will certainly contribute much to our understanding of interactive talk. Besides, the knowledge gained from such research could help to create more awareness among interactants. Thus, this study is an attempt to investigate the differences in the use of hedges in casual communication among UPM students.
The objectives of this study are:
To determine the types of hedges produced
To determine the frequency of hedges used
The research question of this study are:
What are the types of hedges produced?
How frequently are hedges produced?
What are the differences between the use of hedges in male and female casual communication?
Significance of the Study
This study attempt at analyzing the frequency and types of hedges in English. Hedges usage is an area that is worth studying because it is an important discourse activity. Its significance lies not only in the fact that it can have a considerable influence on the way in which a particular talk develops but also in the fact that it is omnipresent in our everyday conversation. This study, however will consider the gender differences among UPM students. Hopefully, we will get a better understanding on how we can develop our communication skill from the finding of this study.
Definition of terms
The operational definitions of terms which will be used in this study are:
avoid giving a direct answer to a question or a promising to support a particular idea.
A modifying word such as “like,” “you know,” or “sort of” that is used to lessen the impact of what is said.
Synonym: Accidental, incidental, fortuitous, occasional, chance, random and adventitious
Happening by chance
Communication-the activity or process of expressing ideas and feelings or of giving people information
This chapter discusses related topic and important concept of the study such as the impact of the of gender differences in the use of hedges in casual communication. There has been a little consensus on what the term hedge denotes (Crompton, 1997). Due to the nature of hedging which represents a form of mitigation between write and community, Hyland (1998) drawing upon the work of pragmatics, genre analysis, the sociology of the scientific knowledge, post modernism and social constructions states that hedging can be attributed as a category with a large number of attributes: for example, weakening the precision of the statement; signalling uncertainty; claiming precision and etc. Hyland’s approach may be described as a sociopragmatic treatment of hedging devices where it is recognised that hedges may be used in various ways, by members of different discourse communities. Thus, hedging constitutes a polypragmatic strategy.
In Hyland’s (1998) words hedging devices not only have different semantic interpretations, but also they convey a range of meanings for particular context. Hyland 91998:77) states that “particular linguistic forms cannot automatically be associated with specific interpretation; but one and the same form may be seen to involve various functions. The main categories of hedges distinguishes in the content of RAs by Hyland are provided as below:
These linguistic devices “mitigate the relationship between prepositional content and represent of reality; they hedge the correspondence between what the writes say about the world and what the world is thought to be like” (Hyland, 1996:439, see also 1998:162).
1.1 Attribute Hedges
A hedge of this kind can indicate that “results vary from an assumed ideal of how nature behaves and allows a better match with familiar descriptive terms” (Hyland, 1998:164). Adverbs or adverbial devices which express precision in terms of degree or frequency are among this hedge type.
1.2 Reliability Hedges
Reliability hedges such as modal auxiliaries, full of verbs, modal adverbs, adjectives and nouns express a conviction about propositional truth as warranted by deduction from available facts, relying on inference, deduction, or repeated experience. They refer to present states and are usually in the active voice without writer agentivity” (Hyland, 1998:167).
These hedges deal mostly with the relationship between author and audience, they “confirm the attention writers give to the interactional effects of their statements’ and solicit collusion by addressing the reader as an intelligent colleague capable of participating in the discourse with an open mind” (Hyland, 1996; 446). Personal attribution, hyphothetical conditions and questions are included in this category. The significance hedges become more evident as far as academic writing is concerned. Familiarity with this strategy may be a help for non-native writers to overcome the exhaustive norms of being accepted as the members of academic community since publishing a written academic.
Swallowe (2003) reviewed the literature on differences between men and women in the use of media for interpersonal communication. Lakoff (1975) proposed the theories on the existence of women’s language in her book ‘Language and Women’s Place’ have served as a basis for much research on the subject. Besides that, Vassileva’s (2001) research on degree of commitment and detachment in English, Bulgarian and Bulgarian English RAs in linguistics showed considerable differences in the overall distribution of hedges and boosters throughout introduction, discussion and conclusion of RA. Meanwhile, Vartalla’s (2001), investigation of hedges in scientific tests in three different disciplines and RAs based on Hyland’s model (1998) showed differences in incidence between the topic areas treated and between two types of discourse, RAs and popular scientific articles.
This quantitative study is interested in observing the use of hedges in casual communication. Features of hedges and its possible functions will be explored and described through observations. In analyzing the distribution of hedges in the data, a quantitative technique in the form of simple frequency count will be employed.
The previous researches make use of the collection from the total of 108 Research Articles (RAs) with two distinct research designs were selected from the articles written by two groups (English Native Speakers and Persian Native Speakers).
The instrument to be used in this study is based on hedging strategies following Hyland’s polypragmatic model (1998). In this study, the degree to which commitment is employed in English/Persian academic discourse in applied linguistics RAs with two distinct research designs namely, Experimental (EXP) and Descriptive (DES) is examined.
Data Collection Procedures
To collect the relevant data, a total of 108 Research Articles (RAs) with two distinct research designs were selected from the articles written by two groups (English Native Speakers and Persian Native Speakers). Hedging strategies following Hyland’s polypragmatic model (1998) will be used.
To analyze the data in this study, the researchers made use of frequency and Chi-square statistical procedures. Frequency counts were use to show the frequency of ‘intensifiers’, ‘hedges’, and ‘tag questions’ as found in the English and Persian utterances produced by males and females.
Also, the researches took advantage of the percentage figures to show the distribution of each linguistic item within and between groups. Finally, Chi-Square was used to find out whether or not the differences were meaningful and significant.