Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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Hedging means mitigating words so as to lessen the impact of an utterance. It may cause uncertainty in language but is regarded as an important feature in English academic writing. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the style of academic writing in English with particular reference to the significant role of hedging and the linguistic features that mark it. The data was taken from academic articles in the humanities written by native speakers of English, Filipino speakers of English, and Thai speakers of English. It is hypothesized that speakers of English as a foreign language use fewer and different hedging devices than native speakers of English. The result of the analysis shows that the prominent linguistic markers of hedging are the auxiliaries may, might, could, the verbs suggest, appear, seem, and the adverbs perhaps and often. They are divided into three groups according to their stylistic attributes of hedging; namely, probability, indetermination, and approximation. The use of hedging found in the data confirms what Hyman (1994) says; i.e., that hedging allows writers to express their uncertainty about the truth of their statements. It is also found that English native speakers use hedges most frequently. The Filipino speakers of English are the second, and the Thai speakers of English use hedges the least frequency. This implies that hedging is likely to be related to the level of competence in English including knowledge of stylistic variation, and that it needs to be formally taught to those who speak English as a second or foreign language.

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