Hedging praise in English and Japanese book reviews


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24 Citations (Scopus)


Hedging generally refers to linguistic expressions such as 'I think', 'maybe' and 'possible', which qualify statements as opinion rather than fact and reduce their force. Previous studies have shown the importance of hedging in academic writing and have highlighted cross-linguistic and disciplinary differences. Drawing on previous studies, the paper investigates praise in book reviews, an under-investigated area of research. It specifically explores how praise is hedged differently in English and Japanese and the relevance of syntactic devices in the analysis of hedging. The study has shown that praise was hedged more frequently in Japanese book reviews and that, although syntactic devices per se did not appear to significantly qualify as hedging, a combination of lexical terms and syntactic devices appeared to manifest different interpersonal strategies in each language. The study suggests that the higher frequency of hedging in praise and impersonal syntactic structures found in Japanese book reviews may be related to Japanese norms of politeness and writers' wishes to remain non-committal as evaluators. On the other hand, in English writing, the lower frequency of hedging in praise and the tendency to use personal syntactic structures may be related to positive politeness and writers' willingness to take responsibilities as evaluators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-148
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

User-Defined Keywords

  • Hedging
  • Japanese
  • Language of evaluation
  • Politeness
  • Praise


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