Scholarly article on topic 'The Impact of Discipline and being Native/Non-native on the Use of Hedging Devices'

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Abstract of research paper on History and archaeology, author of scientific article — Hassan Soodmand Afshar, Ahmad Asakereh, Masoud Rahimi

Abstract Drawing upon Salager-Meyer's (1994)taxonomy, the present study compared the frequency of use of hedging devices used in Discussion part of 140 research articles (70 RAs written by native English writers and 70 by their non-native Iranian counterparts)published since 2000 in the leading journals of the three disciplines of Geography, Chemistry, and Medicine. The results of Chi-square analyses indicated there were significant differences across various disciplines in terms of the frequency of use of hedging devices adopted in the Discussion part of RAs. Moreover, the findings revealed there were significant differences between non-native (Iranian) research writers and their native English counterparts regarding the frequency of use of hedging devices adopted in the Discussion part of RAs.

Academic research paper on topic "The Impact of Discipline and being Native/Non-native on the Use of Hedging Devices"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 136 (2014) 260 - 264

LINELT 2013

The Impact of Discipline and being Native/Non-native on the use of

Hedging Devices

Hassan Soodmand Afshara*, Ahmad Asakerehb, MasoudRahimic

aAssistant Professor in TEFL, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, IR Iran bMAin TEFL, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, IR Iran cMA in TEFL, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, IRIran

Abstract

Drawing upon Salager-Meyer's (1994)taxonomy, the present study compared the frequency of use of hedging devices used in Discussion part of 140 research articles (70 RAs written by native English writers and 70 by their non-native Iranian counterparts)published since 2000 in the leading journals of the three disciplines of Geography, Chemistry, and Medicine. The results of Chi-square analyses indicated there were significant differences across various disciplines in terms of the frequency of use of hedging devices adopted in the Discussion part of RAs. Moreover, the findings revealed there were significant differences between non-native (Iranian) research writers and their native English counterparts regarding the frequency of use of hedging devices adopted in the Discussion part of RAs.

© 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of LINELT 2013.

Keywords:

1. Introduction

By the use of hedging devices, one can linguistically indicate his/her degree of commitment to his/her claims (Nivales, 2011). Using hedging devices to present information and new ideas is one of the conventions in academic writing. Rounds (1982) maintains that by using hedging devices in academic discourse, academic writers are easily able to show their certainty and doubt towards their claims, they are also able to show the amount of confidence they put on their claims, and they can start a dialogue with their readers. Some novice research writers, by neglecting the use of hedging devices, show their confidence and detachment to their suggested ideas. Hedges could be used in

Corresponding Author. Hassan SoodmandAfshar Tel.: +988118292590 E-mail address: soodmand@basu.ac.ir, hassansoodmand@gmail.com

1877-0428 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of LINELT 2013. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.05.325

utterances to present the information ambiguously, uncertainly, or imprecisely. They are used to reduce the potential risk of a claim or prevent embarrassing situations in which one is found to be wrong (Varttala, 2001).

1.1. Previous research findings on hedging

Salager-Meyer (1994) found shields, approximators and compound hedges were the most frequently used hedging devices in the different rhetorical parts of Medicine research papers. Salager-Meyer also found that the most heavily hedged part was the Discussion part, and the least hedged part was the Method part. Shields and compound hedges were the most frequently used hedging devices in the Discussion part. Regarding the Introduction part, Salager-Meyer found that shields were the most frequent hedging types and approximators stood at the second place.It was also revealed that approximators were the most frequently used hedging devices in the Result part. Slagar-Meyer suggested that the issues involved in determining the expressions of tentativeness and flexibility in discourse included the general structure of the discourse, the purpose of the communication, the level of the claim, the writers' wishes to make, and the authors' pretension to universality and generalization. Nasiri (2012) revealed there was no statistically significant difference between native and non-native research writers in terms of use of hedging devices in the Discussion part of research articles.Falahati (2004) revealed that English research articles were more hedged than those of Iranians. He further found that the frequency of use of hedges in the Discussion part of research articles was higher than that used in the Introduction part. He concluded that the frequency of use of hedges is different across various languages and disciplines. Vassileva (2001) investigated the degree of expressing claims in Bulgarian English research articles in linguistics. He revealed that the three different parts of the articles, namely the Introduction, Discussion and Conclusion had different distribution of hedges and boosters. By analyzing the collected data, he concluded that the variations in three different parts of the articles were related to the different rhetorical and educational traditions. It was further aimed at facilitating understanding and tolerating the specific cultural features. He added that these different rhetorical functions could preserve cultural identity when using English for academic purposes.

1.3. Research questions

The following research questions were formulated for the present study:

1. Is there any significant difference between the frequency of hedging devices used in the Discussion part of Medicine articles written by native English and non-native (Iranian) research writers?

2. Is there any significant difference between the frequency of hedging devices used in the Discussion part of Chemistry articles written by native English and non-native (Iranian) research writers?

3. Is there any significant difference between the frequency of hedging devices used in the Discussion part of Geography articles written by native English and non-native (Iranian) research writers?

4. Is there any significant difference among Chemistry, Geography and Medicine articles written by Native English research writers in terms of frequency of hedging devices used in their Discussion part?

5. Is there any significant difference among Chemistry, Geography and Medicine articles written by Iranian researchers writing in English in terms of frequency of hedging devices used in their Discussion part?

6. What types of hedging devices are used the most and the least frequently by both native English research writers and their non-native (Iranian) counterparts?

2. Method

2.1. Corpus

The corpus of the study was taken from the research articles written by both native English research writers and their Iranian counterparts writing in English. The RAs were in the three different fields of Medicine, Chemistry, and Geography. The study examined 420 Discussion part of the RAs. The reason for selecting the Discussion part of the articles was the importance of the part and its heavily hedged-based nature. 140 RAs for each aforementioned discipline, 70 written by native English research writers and 70 by Iranian researchers writing in English, were randomly selected from leading journals in the field published since 2000.

2.2. Procedure

The hedging devices were analyzed based on the Salager-Meyer's (1994) taxonomy. The taxonomy includes five main types which are as follow: 1. "Shields", it includes all modal verbs such as can, may, etc., semi auxiliaries such as to appear and to seem, etc. and adverbs of probability such as probably, perhaps, etc. 2. "Approximators", such as approximately, often, etc. 3. "Personal doubt and direct involvement", such as I think, as far as I know, etc. 4. "Emotionally charged intensifiers", such as extremely interesting, surprisingly motivating, etc. 5."Compound hedges" such as, it seems reasonable to suggest, it appears more likely, etc.

2.3. Data analysis

Since the purpose was to compare the frequency of hedging devices used in Discussion part of Chemistry, Geography and Medicine RAs by both native English and Iranian research writers, Chi-square analyses were run.

3. Results and Discussion

The results of Chi-square analyses for the research questions of the study are summarized in the following tables:

Table1. Chi-square for the frequencies of hedging devices in Discussion part of Medicine RAs written by native English research writers and their Iranian counterparts writing in English._

Field/Hedging type Compounds Total Shields Approximators Personal doubt Emotionally-charged intensifiers

Medicine RAs (Natives) 1142 481 28 49 116

Medicine RAs (Iranians) 492 396 28 9 66

Chi-square: 71.86 Degree of freedom: 4 Critical value: 9.49

As can be seen from Table1, there was a significant difference between the frequency of hedging devices used in the Discussion part of Medicine articles written by native English and non-native(Iranian) research writers.

Table 2. Chi-square for the frequencies of hedging devices in Discussion part of Chemistry RAs written by

native English research writers and their Iranian counterparts.

Field/Hedging type Compounds Total Shields Approximators Personal doubt Emotionally-charged intensifiers

Chemistry RAs (Natives) 167 1878 1030 644 5 32

Chemistry RAs (Iranians) 210 158 17 10

15 410

Chi-square: 67.81 Degree of freedom: 4 Critical value: 9.49

As Table 2 indicates, there was a significant difference between the frequency of hedging devices used in the Discussion part of Chemistryarticles written by native English and non-native (Iranian) research writers.

Table 3. Chi-square for the frequencies of hedging devices in Discussion part of Geography RAs Written by native English research writers and their Iranian counterparts writing in English._

Field/Hedging type Shields Approximators Personal doubt Emotionally-charged intensifiers

Compounds Total

Geography RAs (Natives) 538 174 27 28

38 805

Geography RAs (Iranians) 192 128 13 12

11 356

Chi-square: 31.88 Degree of freedom: 4 Critical value: 9.49

As Table 3 indicates, there was a significant difference between the frequency of hedging devices used in the Discussion part of Geographyarticles written by native English and non-native (Iranian) writers. The findings of the present study are in line with those of Atai and Sadr (2008); however, they stand in contrast to the findings of Nasiri (2012) and Bonyadi et al. (2012) which showed that there was no statistically significant difference between RAs written by native research writers and those written by their Iranian counterparts writing in English in terms of the frequency of hedging devices used in their Discussion part.

As Falahati's (2004) and Jalilifar's (2011) findings revealed Discussion part of Persian RAs was less hedged than that of English articles which is supported by Burrough-Boenisch's (2005) claim that cultural background, attitude and competence in English might affect the deployment of hedging devices; Iranian researchers writing in English might thus have transferred their Persian style of writing to English context.

Table 4. Chi-square for the frequencies of the type of hedging devices in Discussion part of Geography, Chemistry, and Medicine RAs written by native English research writers._

Field/Hedging type Shields Approximators Personal doubt Emotionally-charged intensifiers

Compounds Total

Geography 538 174 27 13

38 790

Chemistry 1030 644 5 32

167 1878

Medicine 1142 481 28 49

116 1816

Chi- square: 117.9 degree of freedom: 8 critical value:15.51

As Table 4 shows, there was a statistically significant difference among Chemistry, Geography and Medicine articles written by Native English writers in terms of frequencies of hedging devices used in their Discussion part. Table 5. Chi-square for the frequencies of the type of hedging devices in Discussion part of Geography, Chemistry, and Medicine RAs written by Iranian researchers writing in English._

Field/Hedging type Compounds Total Shields Approximators Personal doubt Emotionally-charged intensifiers

Geography 192 128 10 12 10

Chemistry 210 158 17 10 15

Medicine 492 396 28 9 66

Chi- square: 24.11 degree of freedom: 8 critical value:15.51

As Table 5 indicates, there was a statistically significant difference among Chemistry, Geography and Medicine articles written by Iranian research writers writing in English in terms of frequencies of hedging devices used in their Discussion part.

Tables 4 and 5 indicate, variation in the frequency of hedging devices in Discussion part of Geography, Chemistry, and Medicine RAs written by both native English research writers and their Iranian counterparts writing in English. In other words, the frequencies of hedging devices are utilized differently across various disciplines. These findings are in line with those of Falahati (2004) and Sinkuneine (2011) which indicated there were significant differences across disciplines in terms of frequencies of hedging devices.

It appears that use of hedging devices in Medicine writing is of paramount importance to the research writers in the field. This might be due to the fact that in Medicine RAs, appropriate accuracy and cautious language play an essential role. As the findings in Tables 4 and 5 indicate, "shields" and "personal doubt" in Discussion part of MedicineRAs are more frequently used than "shields" and "personal doubt" utilized in Discussion part of Chemistry and Geography RAs written by both native English and their non-native Iranian counterparts writing in English. This might be related to the fact that Medicine research writers have to exercise extreme caution in revealing and

discussing the results of their research findings since they might have direct impact on human health and life. Discussion part of Geography RAs written by both native English and Iranian research writers writing in English were less hedged than those of Chemistry and Medicine RAs. This could be due to the fact that exercising extreme caution is less important in Geography RAs than those of Medicine and Chemistry. Probably because Chemistry and Medicine research writers are involved with more serious issues such as human life, chemical drugs, pills, etc in which lack of caution in scientific RAs writing might have irreparable harm on human life.

Regarding research question six, "Shields" were found to be the most frequently used hedging device in the three disciplines, a finding which is in line with those of Adam-Smith (1984) who claimed the most frequently used hedging device in RAs was shields. The second and third most frequently used hedging devices in three disciplines written by native English research writers and their Iranian counterparts were "approximators" and "compound hedges", respectively. The findings are in line with those of Salager-Mayer (1994). It seems that native English and Iranian research writers writing in English are in agreement on the utilization of the most frequent hedging devices in Discussion part of their RAs. However, the least frequently used hedges by native English research writers and their Iranian counterparts were "personal doubt and direct involvement" and "emotionally-charged intensifiers", respectively.

As a teaching implication, first, non-native ESP/EAP research writers, teachers and students' awareness of the importance of hedging devices must be raised. Second, academic writing style which is based on prudent and respectful language rather than overconfident language use should be capitalized and highlighted in order to help non-native English research writers echo their voice in scientific communities.

References

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Burrough-Boenisch, J. (2005). NS and NNS scientists' amendments of Dutch scientific English and their impact on

hedging. English for Specific Purposes, 24(1), 25-39. Bonyadi, A., Gholami, J., & Nasiri, S. (2012). A contrastive study of hedging in Environmental Sciences research

articles. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 3(6), 1186-1193. Falahati, R. (2004). A contrastive study of hedging in English and Farsi academic discourse. Unpublished MA

thesis. Tehran: University of Tehran, Department of Linguistics. Jalilifar, A. R. (2011). World of attitudes in research article discussion parts: A cross-linguistic perspective. Journal

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