Utilization of Hedging Devices by American and Iranian Researchers in the Field of Civil Engineering

Sina Nasiri


The main purpose of the academic writing is to inform the other researchers from different cultures in a particular field. Because of the existed differences emanated from cultural backgrounds among the researchers who use English as their second or foreign language, the contrastive rhetoric plays crucial role in guiding the non-native writers. One of the important issues in academic writing which is considered difficult matter for non-natives who want to write for the academic purposes is hedging devices. Hedges are used to present findings cautiously along with leaving room for readers to have their own interpretations. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to find out the frequencies of different types of hedging devices in the field of Civil Engineering. To this end, 20 research articles (RAs), 10 by American writers and 10 by Iranian writers, from the leading journals were selected and their Discussion sections were selected and read to find out the existed hedging devices. All the articles have been published during 2009-2010. The time was considered because it was supposed that the time may influence the style of the writings of the authors in this field. Then, the obtained hedges were classified based on Salager-Meyer’s (1994) taxonomy. The results revealed that, American writers showed their preferences to type 1, 4, and 5 while Iranians outnumbered in using type 2 and 3. Therefore, in general, the number of hedging devices by American writers was more than Iranian writers. In order to find out that the difference between the groups is significant or not chi-square procedure was used and it was found that despite some variations among the types of hedges, no statistically significant difference observed between the American and Iranian writers in terms of utilizing hedging devices in the Discussion sections of their research articles. This finding can be interpreted in a way that what is important in utilizing hedging devices as the linguistic phenomenon is the discipline influence not the nationality or cultural backgrounds of the authors. Thus, the non-native authors, i.e. Iranians, could use hedges like their native counterparts, and this shows that the hedging devices are teachable and can be used by non-natives like natives.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v4i2.1494

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