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Hedges in Academic Writing: A Quantitative Study

Reylee A. Ariega

Topic: Hedges

Title: Common Words Used in Hedging by the Grade 10 Students


This study focuses on one of the metadiscoursal devices, hedges, in statements

written in English by the Grade 10 students. Using the quantitative survey-based methodology,

the study aims to check the students insights about hedging and its uses and; to find out the

hedges that are commonly-used by the Grade 10 students in order to investigate the students

familiarity of the hedges. The discussion is supported through the questionnaire answered by

random Grade 10 students from three different schools. The results showed the most commonly

used word in hedges by the respondents from each categories and opened students insights

about the hedges.

1.0 Introduction

Hedges have been given distinctive definitions by various researchers (Crompton, 1997;

Hyland, 1996, 1998; Myers, 1989; Nash, 1990; Salager-Meyer, 1994) since Lakoff (1972)

brought the thought of supports into semantics by characterizing them as "words whose

occupation is to make things fuzzier or less fluffy" (p.195). Hyland (1998) held that in

scholastic-written work, supports "suggest then, that a statement depends on conceivable

thinking as opposed to certain learning, and permit readers the opportunity to debate it" (p.4). It
is attested to in the writing, which the academic composition is "practically complex" and is

overflowed with examples of supports (Wishnoff, 2000, p. 122). Scholars are attempting to

present a paper with conviction and at the same time, to consider the part of the reader in

affirming learning (Hyland, 1996). In this manner, hedges empower authors to suitably regulate

their cases and in addition to give space for the reader to participate. According to Hyland

(1996), Hedges solicit collusion by addressing the reader as an intelligent colleague capable of

participating in the discourse with an open mind. Good arguments are only 'good' from a

particular perspective and hedges work to create this perspective. Once this is achieved,

arguments can be based on other criteria. (p. 446)

Hedges are widely used in academic writings and students discourse to soften the

conviction of the speaker. In addition, it also used to show politeness and weaken the strength of

an assertion. Authors allow for this opening in their statements and conclusions for several

reasons: to report the limits of their findings, to protect themselves from the risk of error, and to

convey modesty. This study focuses on one of the metadiscoursal devices, hedges, in statements

written in English by the Grade 10 students. Using the quantitative survey-based methodology,

the study aims to check the students insights about hedging and its uses and; to find out the

hedges that are commonly-used by the Grade 10 students in order to investigate the students

familiarity of the hedges.

1.1 Related Studies

A numerous past researches has been done on hedges and supporters with distinctive

methodologies. An approach has been to explore the impact that capable versus frail dialect
styles have on a listener (Holtgraves and Lasky, 1999; Hosman, Huebner and Siltanen, 2002;

Hosman and Siltanen, 2006). This study shares the basic view that hedges once in a while add to

a positive result for the speaker, since they have a tendency to demonstrate an absence of

confidence. At long last, there have been studies done concerning supports and sponsors in

scholarly written work for both expert analysts, and additionally second dialect understudies of

English (Holmes, 1988; Hyland, 1994, 1996, 2000; Hyland and Milton, 1997).

An interesting are of research firmly identified with this study is the capability in which

second dialect learners of English comprehend and express supports and promoters in their

studies. As said above, it has been proposed that outside learners of English may experience

difficulty partaking in an exploration world ruled by English, since they think that its hard to

utilize hedges accurately (Hyland, 1996: 278). Past research inside this range has likewise

centered on the conceivable outcomes given to understudies of English by ESL course readings

to learn and comprehend the diverse instruments in which one can express uncertainty and

sureness in scholastic composition.

An investigation of four distinctive ESL reading material done by Holmes (1988)

suggests that the quality and amount, in which supports and sponsors are displayed to learners,

changes between various books (1988: 38). Now and again, an excess of center is by all accounts

put on modular verbs, bringing about a dismissal for option methods for communicating

uncertainty and conviction. She focuses on the significance of giving second dialect learners the

realness of syntactic and lexical gadgets really utilized by local speakers of English "chose from

those happening most habitually in pertinent talked and composed writings" (Holmes, 1988: 40).

Moreover, a later investigation of 22 course readings expected for second dialect understudies

touched base at a comparative conclusion, in particular, that educational materials for second
dialect learners of English apparently disregard to incorporate scholastic supporting in view of an

examination of bona fide use (Hyland, 1994: 253). On the off chance that these examination

comes about likewise apply to course readings planned for Swedish learners, it might

recommend that the scholarly expositions utilized as a part of the present study will contain

constrained utilization of the different fences and supporters available in the English dialect.

In addition, a few studies have concentrated on how understudies from various

nationalities examining English comprehend and utilize hedges help in their academic work. A

fairly late investigation of how 14 Cantonese understudies of English at the University of Hong

Kong reacted to supports and promoters in a scholarly content, demonstrated that sponsors had a

tendency to be more obvious to these understudies than fences (Hyland, 2000). Further, Hyland

recommends that second dialect understudies of English may not see attempts made by creators

of academic writings to weaken their dedication to the propositional data gave (2000: 192), along

these lines making them draw incorrect conclusions (2000: 184). Consequently, it may be

difficult to distinguish between the effects that the students first language may have on their

English writing versus their individual proficiency level if this is not investigated. Yet, there

seem to be noted differences between native and non-native speakers of English, although their

nationalities are not specified.

Further, an investigation of understudies' written work tests at similar college by Allison

demonstrated an unjustifiable use of linguistic devices expressing certainty (i.e. sponsors), since

the vital proof to do as such was missing (1995: 10). Furthermore, a relative examination with

writings composed by native (British) and non-native (Hong Kong) speakers of English

demonstrated that the "Hong Kong learners utilized linguistically more simpler constructions,

relied on a more constrained scope of devices, offered stronger responsibilities to explanations

and showed more prominent issues in passing on an exact level of assurance" (Hyland and

Milton, 1997: 201).

1.2 Research Questions

The primary concern of this study is to investigate the students familiarization of hedges

and to find out the commonly used hedges in writing statements. More specifially, the study aims

to find answers to the following questions:

1. What is hedging?

2. What are the examples of hedges and its uses?

3. What are the commonly used hedges in each category?

1.3 Theoretical Framework

According to Hyland (200!) interaction in academic writing involves positioning in

relation to both the issues discussed and to others who hold points of view on those issues

(p.141). In order to be effective, writers employ certain communicative strategies while stating

their claims and propositions. As Vasquez and Giner (2009) point out propositional meaning can

be formulated with different degrees of strength, ranging from very weak to very strong

statements through the use of different devices such as modality, first person pronouns, hedges

and booster (p. 220).

Hedges and boosters are among interpersonal devices that are used by writers to modify

their claims, to construe and attain persuasion (Hyland, 2000; Vazquez & Giner, 2009). Hedges
such as might, probably and seem provide information about the degree of doubt and certainty of

the statements made by the writer. These expressions of doubt and certainty is central to

academic writing where the writers are expected to distinguish opinion from fact, and evaluate

their assertions in order to compete demands of persuasion and objectivity (Hyland & Milton,

199$; Hyland, 2001; Vazquez & Giner, 2009). A large body of literature in the field has already

documented the role of hedges and boosters in academic writing as communicative strategies for

conveying reliability and manipulating the strength of commitment to the claim (see for example,

Crismore, Markkanen & Steffenson, 1993; Hyland, 200!; Salager-Meyer, 1994). Hedges are one

of the most studied features of this audience-oriented aspect of claim design. Myers (1989) has

suggested that academic writers employ hedges to soften interpersonal imposition. Hedges have

also been seen as a way of anticipating the possible negative consequences of overstatement and

the eventual overthrow of a claim (Hyland, 1996 & 1998; Salager-Meyer, 1994). According to

Hyland (1996) in academic circles hedges allow writers to present statements with appropriate

accuracy, caution and humility (p. 434). All these arguments imply that hedges are used in

statements which are based on plausible reasoning rather than certain knowledge, and allow

readers the freedom to dispute it. Previous research with first language (L1) speakers has

demonstrated that L1 learners have difficulties in constructing appropriate argument structures

and thus have difficulties in qualifying relationships between their grounds and claims (Connor

& Lauer, 1988). The ability to express doubt and certainty becomes an even more complex task

for the second language (L2) writers and learners (Hyland, 1996). Research demonstrates that the

writings of non-native speakers (NNSs) are often considered vague and insufficient in terms of

expression of meaning unless they follow the conventions of writing as expected by native
speakers (NSs) (Hinkel, 1997; Myers, 1989). The differences between L1 and L2 writers have

been reported in various studies conducted in different contexts.

2.0 Method

This study used quantitative approach through survey. The respondents are ten random

Grade 10 students. Enclosed in the questionnaire are the basic information that includes their

name, grade, and school theyre enrolled. The questionnaire also includes the sample sentences

in which the respondents will fill the appropriate hedge according to the category stated and in

the latter part of the questionnaire, it asks the students on what is their perception about hedges.

This survey was conducted randomly in October 16, 2016 in San Roque de Navotas Parish. Here

are the categories of hedges (Hylands Model of Hedging, 1998) that are seen in the

questionnaire and will serve as one of our basis in the next parts:


Modal adverbs almost, fairly, largely, mainly, typically

Modal adjectives broadly, likely, possible, usually

Certain modal verbs appear, claim, could, seem, should

2.1 Data Analysis

In the conducted survey, here is the table showing the information obtained from the


1 John Kenneth Senagan 10 SRNHS

2 Diane Grate 10 SRNHS

3 Janelle Alambra 10 SRNHS

4 Mary Rose Bartina 10 TNHS

5 Angelica Bardaje 10 TNHS

6 Lance Ian dela Cruz 10 TNHS

7 Trisha Arulfo 10 SRNHS

8 Jiro Prince Laiz 10 NNHS

9 Jonie Robles 10 NNHS

10 Luis Pastor 10 TNHS

#1 answer #2 answer #3 answer

NO. Perception about Hedges
(Adverbs) (Adjectives) (Verbs)
1 mainly usually could Words used to attain persuasion.

2 typically usually could Words used to modify claims.

3 mainly usually should Words that show politeness.

Words used to make the
4 mainly usually could
sentence less forceful.
Words to make the statement
5 mainly usually could
less offensive.
6 almost likely could --
Words that are used to limit
7 mainly usually could
Words that are used to make the
8 mainly usually seem
sentence less offensive.
9 mainly broadly seem --
Used to soften what we say or
10 mainly usually could
Legend: Red text serves as the mostly used word.
Based on the diagram presented, 8 out of 10 respondents used the word mainly in the

category of modal adverbs. In the category of modal adjectives, 8 out of 10 respondents used the

word usually. And in the category of modal verbs, 6 out of 10 respondents used could.

Fortunately, 8 out of 10 respondents shared their ideas about the meaning of hedges.

3.0 Results and Findings

The results of the survey shows the ideas of the respondents when it talks about the

hedges. The first category, modal adverbs, 8 out of 10 respondents had the word mainly as the

most used. In the second, which is the modal adjectives, 8 out of 10 respondents had the word

usually as the most used word. In third category, modal verbs, 6 out of 10 respondents had the

word could as the most used word. In terms of having their perception about the definition of

hedging, 8 out of 10 shared their ideas about the meaning of hedging, which are the following:

Repondent#1: Words used to attain Respondent#4: Words used to make the

persuasion. sentence less forceful.
Respondent#2: Words used to modify claims. Respondent#5: Words to make the statement
less offensive.
Respondent#3: Words that show politeness. Respondent#7: Words that are used to limit
Respondent#8: Words that are used to make Respondent#10: Used to soften what we say
the sentence less offensive. or write.

In addition, it is clearly seen that most of the respondents had the most used hedges are

enrolled in San Roque National High School, having 9 red marks in the table. Tangos National

High School got the same number of red marks with the respondents from San Roque National
High School, which is 9 red marks. Followed by Navotas National High School respondents,

gained 3 red marks.

4.0 Conclusion

Using the quantitative survey-based methodology, the study aims to check the students

insights about hedging and its uses and; to find out the hedges that are commonly-used by the

Grade 10 students in order to investigate the students familiarity of the hedges. The main

findings of this study can be summarized as follows:

Hedges serves as different functions according to what the statement pertains;

Most of the respondents from the survey conducted has an idea of hedges;

The most used hedges are namely: mainly, usually, could.

Drawing on the findings obtained from this research, we can conclude that different

hedges exists in accordance with their categories and their uses. Before using hedges,

understanding of its categories and how it functions must be internalized first. And before using

hedges, its appropriateness and function must be checked. Based on the findings, most of the

students already had an insight about the hedges, but still, it must be taught to the school/s who

got the unsatisfactory score. Having this as a topic in school can help the improvement of a

student in his communication abilities.

4.1 Pedagogical Implications

The pedagogical implications of this study is that, in order to improve ones language

competence and communicative abilities, familiarization of the hedges must take place. The

learners must have knowledge about hedges for them to be competent in speaking the English


4.2 References

Hyland, K. (1996). Writing Without Conviction? Hedging in Science Research Articles, Applied
Linguistics, 17(4), 433-457
Hyland, K. (2000). Hedges, Boosters and Lexical Invisibility: Noticing Modifiers in Academic
Texts, Vol. 9 Issue 4, p.179-197
Nada, G. (2012). Modality in Ewe: A Functional Exploration of Epistemic Adverbs
Yuksel, H. (2015). Expressing claim: Hedges in English language learners writing. p. 263269
Serholt, S. (2012). Hedges and Boosters in Academic Writing.

4.3. Appendices