Modality and hedging - Roma Tre University

Modality and hedging - Roma Tre University

Modality and hedging Verbal modality 1.concerns with the speakers assumptions or assessment of possibilities (what the speaker/writer thinks possible or states as possible) 2. Indicates the degree of confidence (or lack of confidence) the speaker has in their statement. 3. Shows the status of the speakers understanding or knowledge 4. Weak epistemic modality (may) suggests a

lower level of commitment to the truth value of a statement 5. Strong epistemic modality (must) suggests a higher level of commitment hedging Expression of speculative statements as opposed to factual language Way to express absence of certainty Strategic desire not to be too categorical Hedging establishes the acceptability of the contribution by the scientific community.

Acceptability largely depends on the respect of shared formal rules (rhetorical devices in use within the research community = grammar of politeness) How to detect hedging: surface textual features cognitive verbs such as think, believe, suppose, reckon plausibility shields, in particular appear, seem. They give further emphasis to the epistemic verbs (verbs relating to knowledge) constituting the traditional hedges, such

as suggest, imply, speculate, indicate; cues, such as perhaps, maybe, although; modal adjectives such as likely, possible, consistent with, downtoners (barely, nearly, slightly) adverbial forms of the type quite, almost, usually, probably, etc. lexical verbs conveying the idea of modality: indicate, suggest, propose, advise approximators (or rounders in Prince 1982) of quantity, degree, frequency, and time, such

as approximately, roughly, somewhat, quite, often, occasionally; emotionally charged intensifiers: extremely, particularly, unexpectedly, surprisingly The passive existential subjects (there+verb+nominal group)

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