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verbal hedge


verbal hedge

Examples of hedging in Engish


A word or phrase that makes statements less forceful or assertive. Contrast with boosting and intensifier.

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • "I think that God in creating Man somewhat overestimated his ability."
    (Oscar Wilde)

  • "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."
    (Walt Disney)

  • "Lawyers I suppose were children once."
    (Charles Lamb)

  • "You sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve."
    (J. K. Rowling)

  • "Life, I fancy, would very often be insupportable, but for the luxury of self-compassion."
    (George Gissing)

  • "It seems to me that trying to live without friends is like milking a bear to get cream for your morning coffee. It is a whole lot of trouble, and then not worth much after you get it."
    (Zora Neale Hurston)

  • "I am a deeply religious nonbeliever. This is a somewhat new kind of religion."
    (Albert Einstein)

  • Hedge Words in the Media
    "Writers and reporters for various media are increasingly sensitive to possible legal repercussions regarding the things they report. As a result, many of them, seemingly to protect themselves and their organizations, tend to overuse hedge words--that is, words that allow the speaker or writer to hedge on the meaning of his or her statement. As such, readers and listeners are subjected to such statements as the following:
    The alleged burglary occurred last night.
    The diplomat died of an apparent heart attack.
    Such hedge words are unnecessary if the police report indeed shows that a burglary occurred and if the medical report lists a heart attack as the cause of the diplomat's death. In any case, the second sentence above would certainly make more sense if it were written another way. (Besides, what is an 'apparent heart attack'?)
    Apparently, the diplomat died of a heart attack.
    The diplomat died, apparently of a heart attack."
    (G. Loberger and K. Shoup, Webster's New World English Grammar Handbook. Wiley, 2009)

  • Hedge Words and Weasel Words
    "Hedges are not always the same as 'weasel words,' which temper the directness of a statement. (The two terms reflect a different point of view. 'Weasel words' is pejorative--we're trying to avoid responsibility for our claims. 'Hedges' qualify, soften, or make claims more polite.) The two examples that follow show how hedges can be used to let us 'weasel out' of responsibility for our statements.
    Perhaps Gould overstated his argument regarding an apparent weakness in Darwin's notes.
    The data appear to support the assumption of significant differences between the two groups of students.
    Hedges, however, also serve a ritual function. They may act like disfluencies in smoothing over a disagreement with a conversational partner.
    Maybe she just feels kinda blue.
    In this last example, it is a simple matter to understand the locutionary force of the utterance--that is, what the sentence says. However, the illocutionary force of the utterance--what is intended by the utterance--is not clear unless context is taken into account."
    (Evelyn Hatch, Discourse and Language Education. Cambridge University Press, 1992)
Also Known As: hedge. hedging
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