An Adaptation-based Approach to Hedges in the Courtroom Cross-Examination: A Case Study of the Jodi Arias Trial

Yunqian Li


Hedges as a considerable fascinated language phenomena and pragmatic strategy, objectively and widely existed in every aspect of human life. Most researches on hedges focus on their communicative function in daily conversation and ESP discourse, but few of them pay attention to the study of hedges used in institutionalized settings. Therefore, this paper aims to study hedges in courtroom discourse in the light of Verschueren’s theory of adaptation, exploring how the different kinds of hedges adapts to the specified linguistic contexts. The analysis shows that the use of hedges in courtroom discourse adapt the physical world, the social world and the mental world by conveying uncertain and objective information, which can effectively create beneficial evidence for the defendant and at the same time deny the damaging accusation of the prosecutor. This paper not only enriches the research results of hedges from the perspective of adaptation theory but also proves again that adaptation theory applies to the study of the use of hedges.


Hedges; Adaptation; Physical world; Social world; Mental world

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