Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Hedge (linguistics)

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In pragmatics (a sub-field of linguistics), a hedge is a mitigating word, sound or construction used to lessen the impact of an utterance due to constraints on the interaction between the speaker and addressee, such as politeness, softening the blow, avoiding the appearance of bragging and others. Typically, they are adjectives or adverbs, but can also consist of clauses such as one use of tag questions. It could be regarded as a form of euphemism.

Examples:

  1. There might just be a few insignificant problems we need to address. (adjective)
  2. The party was somewhat spoiled by the return of the parents. (adverb)
  3. I'm not an expert but you might want to try restarting your computer. (clause)
  4. That's false, isn't it. (tag question clause)

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 indicate more precisely how the cooperative principle (expectations of quantity, quality, manner, and relevance) is observed in assessments. For example,

  1. All I know is smoking is harmful to your health.
  2. They told me that they are married.
  3. I am not sure if all of these are clear to you, but this is what I know.
  4. By the way, you like this car?

References

Hedge (linguistics) Wikipedia


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