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An Analysis of Gender Differences in the Use of Hedge

Author: TangDan
Tutor: SongLiYa
School: Northeast Forestry University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: gender difference hedge politeness principle pragmatic functions
CLC: H313
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2013
Downloads: 1
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Hedge, is a linguistic phenomenon as well as a product of certain social culture. Hedge is a proper language pattern which people create in social communication in order to make the communication more effective. It can bring about special effects that precise language doesn’t take effect in verbal communication. In a certain sense, vague language expresses more accurately and more actively than precise language does. The proper application of hedges can achieve the ideal and effective communication. Otherwise, the smooth of communication would be affected to some extent. With more scholars’ attention and interests to the importance of hedge, hedge has become one of the most important analyzing and exploring object. Many researches of hedge have been carried out from semantic, pragmatic, psychological and philosophical perspectives by domestic and foreign scholars. In the early1920s, western scholars had found some different language forms between men and women’s speeches. However, their studies during that period of time are only based on the loose discussion, personal observation or experiences, but not systemized. Since1960s, linguists have in-depth researches on language and gender issues, discovering the differences in the language structure, language sexism, discourse style between two genders and also analyze the causes. With the deepening of research, scholars try to analyze hedge and gender differences from various aspects. However, the study of gender differences in the use of hedge has not yet received much attention. Most studies in this field have only focused on written language, but not daily conversations.This paper takes six main characters’ daily conversations of the American sitcom Friends as the corpus, and makes an analysis of hedges based on the former researches on hedge, which include its classifications and functions, sociolinguistic theories of gender differences in language, the politeness principle and face-saving theory. The quantitative and qualitative research methods have been used to make a pragmatic analysis of the gender differences in the use of hedge in verbal communication.Through statistical analysis, the following findings are obtained:1) Males and females all use a large number of hedges in verbal communication, and they all use more approximators than shields;2) On the whole, the statistic differences do not exist in the use of hedge between males and females, but there are nuance in using certain type of hedge between them;3) There is individual difference in the use of hedge. This thesis analyzes and summarizes the multiple functions of hedge by using the politeness principle and face-saving theory. At the end of the paper, the author also discusses the causes of the differences from the multiple functions of hedge and its social cultural factors. The author hopes that this paper can not only make people realize the importance of hedge in verbal communication, but also help people get a better understanding of the functions of hedge, the gender differences in the use of hedge and also its causes. Being used properly, hedge can make the language more decent, polite and reduce the misunderstanding. A good command of hedge will reduce the pragmatic failures, improve people’s communicative competence, and thus to help people have a harmonious social relationship between men and women in verbal communication.

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CLC: > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Semantics,vocabulary,semantic
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