Hedging in spoken conversations by Norwegian learners of English
Hedging is an important aspect of pragmatic competence, but it is also a complex phenomenon that is difficult to master. This has resulted in underuse of hedging strategies by language learners, and many learners limit their hedging repertoire to a few strategies. This study compares the use of 10 hedging expressions commonly used in informal spoken English, a bit, I mean, I think, just, kind of/kinda, like, might, probably, thing(s), and you know, in data from LINDSEI-no, a corpus of Norwegian advanced learners, and LOCNEC, a comparable corpus of native English speakers. Norwegian learners typically show a high level of grammatical competence, but research on their pragmatic competence is limited. This study adds to the empirical research on Norwegian advanced learners by comparing the use of these expressions in native and learner language. The results indicate that as a group, Norwegian learners underuse hedging strategies, but when each expression and individual variation are considered, the picture is more nuanced. In fact, several of the Norwegian learners’ hedging practices partially overlap with several of the native speakers’ practices concerning hedging frequency and types of hedging strategies used.
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