A Corpus-based Analysis of EFL Learners' Use of Hedges in Cross-cultural Communication

  • Received : 2010.10.14
  • Published : 2010.12.30

Abstract

This study examines the use of hedges in cross-cultural communication between EFL learners in an e-learning environment. The study analyzes the use of hedges in a corpus of an interactive web with a bulletin board system through which college students of English at Japanese and Korean universities interacted with each other discussing the topics of local and global issues. It compares the use of hedges in the students' corpus to that of a native English speakers' corpus. The result shows that EFL learners tend to use relatively smaller number of hedges than the native speakers in terms of the frequencies of the total tokens. It further reveals that the learners' overuse of a single versatile high-frequency hedging item, I think, results in relative underuse of other hedging devices. This indicates that due to their small repertoire of hedges, EFL learners' overuse of a limited number of hedging items may cause their speech or writing to become less competent. Based on the result and interviews with the learners, the study also argues that hedging should be understood in its social contexts and should not be understood just as a lack of conviction or a mark of low proficiency. Suggestions were made for using computer corpora in understanding EFL learners' language difficulties and helping them develop communicative and pragmatic competence.

Acknowledgement

Supported by : Kongju National University