عنوان مقاله [English]
نویسنده [English]چکیده [English]
This paper aims at documenting likely differences in the use of terms like think in electronic language. To be more specific, this paper is the result of a research, conducted to shed more light on the differences between native and non-natives’ use of hedging and its different realizations in the language of email groups. The language of email groups and, more generally, the email language have been of concern to a number of linguists and psychologists for the period since the genesis of virtual space (Nazaryan & Gridchin, 2006). Besides the common linguistic features between the two languages, certain linguistic features can be said to dominate the language of e-mail groups. For instance, I can refer you to the use of certain linguistic devices such as think, feel, know and expressions such as it seem to me to reveal personal opinion (Crystal, 2006). The use of such linguistic devices which are called hedging in applied linguistics, has been one of the frequently discussed topics in written corpus, mainly in dissertations and research articles (Lewin, 2005). However, questions such as how they are used in electronic language, in general, and in the language of e-mail groups, in particular, have been neglected in the literature to be addressed. To deal with this issue, this paper analyzes the use of different hedging devices like modal verbs, epistemic verbs, epistemic nouns, adverbial phrases, adjectival phrases, and indefinite articles/ numerals/general determiners in electronic messages in one of the TEFL email groups.
The corpus was built from 103 messages (totalled over 20541 words) posted on 5 of the most recent and challenging topics discussed in the group. Seventy two contributors were native speakers of English mostly from England, USA and Australia; the remaining 31 non-native speakers of English were from Korea, China, Japan and Indonesia. The data collected from the participants was subjected to both qualitative and quantitative analytical approaches. Given the highly contextual nature of hedging and the fact that a particular form can serve either a propositional or metadiscoursal function, items were coded manually rather than by computer. Quantitative approach served to identify frequency of occurrences and to produce comparable data.
The quantification of hedges showed a significant difference in the overall distribution of hedges throughout the native and non-native messages. More specifically, the density of hedges per total in native corpus was found to be 29 (i.e., one hedge in 29 words), as opposed to 61 in the non-native corpus.
Some of the findings indicate that the native writers are much more tentative in putting forward claims and in rejecting or confirming others' opinion, thus avoiding the so-called 'Face-Threatening Acts' (Brown and Levinson, 1987). In other words, the degree of detachment from one's claims and ideas appears to be considerably higher with the native writers than with the non-native ones.
The comparisons additionally indicate the differences in the frequency of certain types of hedging devices and their different realization. As to the modal verb, though it was found to be the most frequent sub-category in both sections of the corpus, differences were observed in its different realizations. Predominantly, native and non-native corpus employed modals such as can, will, may and may, can, will respectively. The modals could and might were absent in non-native messages with few occurrences in native corpus. Unlike modal verbs, the differences in the use of epistemic verbs, adjectival phrases, epistemic nouns and indefinite articles/ numerals/general determiners were rather striking. The frequency counts indicated the importance of epistemic verbs and indefinite articles/ numerals/general determiners to non-natives as they employed roughly twice as many of them as used in the native corpus. On the other hand, English participants favoured adjectival phrases and epistemic nouns. As to the percentage of the adverbial phrases, there was not a significant difference between the native and non-native corpus, though the native speakers used a wider range of them. The variations observed indicate that native and non-native participants have different orientations as to the distribution of different hedging devices throughout their postings. Different rhetorical and educational traditions or a view to preserving cultural identity when using English for international communication might explain such different orientation.
Compared with other genres, notwithstanding the observation that the same linguistic devices were found to be used in the language of e-mail groups as well as other written languages, as reported in the literature, it was found that email language uses hedging devices which have been recognized to be more of an informal type. This is a further proof on the observation that the language of email groups lacks the formality of other written corpus.