Functions of Hedging: The Case of Academic Persian Prose in One of Iranian Universities
As a feature of academic writing, hedging deals with toning down of scientific claims. There is a clear pedagogical justification for clarification of the concept, especially since it is usually a source of failure in the writing of many foreign/ second language writers of the English language. This problem prompted us to explore it in-depth and see what the underlying assumptions of our academic authors are regarding the issue of hedging. Several studies have aimed at defining and identifying it based upon formal and functional categories (Myers, 1989; Salager Meyers, 1994; Crompton, 1997; Hyland, 1994, 1997, 2005; Lewin 2005, etc.). In the present study, we have tried to investigate the notion in Persian academic prose in two departments of an Iranian university. In order to bring theory into practice, through the text analysis of 32 RAs and some interviews with the writers of the texts under analysis, the question of the function of hedging is studied. It seems that the authors in this study use hedging mainly in its threat-minimizing and politeness functions, which are the social aspects of the issue. Epistemic modality as a cognitive motivation for hedging appears to be less of a concern to the authors under the study.
Key words: Hedging; Epistemic modality; Tone down; Knowledge claim
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