A Brief Analysis of the Pragmatic Functions of Hedges in Classroom Discourses毕业论文

 2021-04-02 11:04

摘 要

模糊限制语的使用在某些特殊情况下可以保住一个人的面子,使得交流顺利进行。本文从模糊限制语的理论支持与分类入手, 分析了英语课堂中教师与学生对模糊限制语的使用场合及其语用功能。首先,当老师和学生对某些信息暂时性遗忘时,运用模糊限制语可以填补信息空白并提供更加适合的信息以便交流。第二,当老师在总结和评价学生的课堂表现和课后作业时,委婉地运用模糊限制语可以保持学生的面子,不至于破坏学生的学习兴趣和热情。最后,老师和学生在课堂上交流时运用模糊限制语可以提高语言运用的灵活性和得体性。因此,使用模糊限制语有助于信息的转换,也有助于提高老师和学生在课堂交流上的效率。

关键词: 模糊限制语;英语课堂教学;语用功能;恰当使用


  1. Introduction 1
  2. Related theories and classification of hedges 1
    1. Related theories 1
      1. The face theory 2
      2. The Cooperative Principle 2
      3. The Politeness Principle 3
    2. Classification of hedges 3
      1. Approximators 3
      2. Shields 4
  3. Pragmatic functions of hedges in classroom discourse 5
    1. Fill in information gaps and make classroom teaching smoothly continue 5
      1. Fill the gaps caused by a lack of lexicon 5
      2. Fill the gaps caused by cultural diversity and lack of background knowledge 7
    2. Provide more appropriate information and improve study efficiency 8
      1. Diminish truth value of discourse and increase the degree of commitment 8
      2. Impart more valuable knowledge to the students within limited time 9
    3. Evaluate euphemistically to arouse students‟ learning enthusiasm 10
      1. Conclude and evaluate the students‟ performance in classrooms 10
      2. Conclude and evaluate the students‟ homework 11
    4. Improve flexibility and propriety of the language in class 12
      1. Improve the teachers‟ flexibility in using hedges 12
      2. Improve the students‟ flexibility in using hedges 13
  4. Conclusion 14

Works Cited 16

Bibliography 17

A Brief Analysis of the Pragmatic Functions of Hedges in Classroom Discourse


First proposed by the linguist G· Lakoff, hedge refers to “words whose job is to make things fuzzier or less fuzzy”(1972). And as one important part of vague language, its major function is to restrict a discourse‟ truth degree or coverage by employing words that are not definitely quantified or specifically defined so as to make one‟s verbal expression in a particular linguistic context become more tactful, rigorous and without obvious flaws, thus contributing to the successful communication of ideas or feelings. These words can amend or restrict discourses, reflecting the speaker‟s uncertainty about the details, or his subjective cognition and evaluation.

Hence hedges are common in daily communication and are regarded as an indispensable part of the speaker‟s verbal skills and communication strategies. Since the English classroom teaching is also a type of communicative activities and the teachers and students do establish certain social relations by playing different roles in the classroom, the skillful application of hedges there is equally important, especially when some words in classroom teaching cannot be expressed clearly or are not necessary to be expressed clearly.

Starting from relevant theories and classifications of hedges, this paper will analyze the conditions for the use of hedges and their pragmatic functions in the English classroom. Thus, it aims to reveal the role that hedges play in promoting idea exchanges between the teachers and students, and to improve the efficiency of classroom teaching. At the same time, it focuses on encouraging the teachers to properly use hedges in classroom for better teaching effects, and on instructing the students to correctly utilize hedges in class for more effective communications with both their teachers and classmates.

Related theories and classification of hedges

    1. Related theories
      1. The face theory

Brown and Levinson define face as “the public self-image that every member wants to claim for himself or herself” (1978). Face includes the positive face and the negative face. The “positive face” means people hope to maintain self-image and individuality in the communication and to receive affirmation and commendation on their speeches, thoughts and behaviors from others. On the contrary, the “negative face” means people expect that their freedom in the communication will not be disturbed and interrupted. The aim of saving face is to maintain a good social relationship with others, and to smooth the conversation in a friendly atmosphere. If one wants to save face, he or she needs to use polite languages to the greatest extent, since expressing oneself in a polite manner has an adjustment function. According to the theory of FTAs (Face Threatening Acts) proposed by Brown and Levinson, the use of polite languages can be regarded as a rational behavior, because it caters to people‟s psychological desire for face. That is, polite language is essentially a strategic behavior, whose purpose is to save the face of both parties by means of all kinds of linguistic skills. When the speech of the speaker may threaten the receiver‟s face, the speaker should use fuzzy language as far as possible to leave the receiver some leeway so as to save his or her face. In this way, the proper use of hedges will be able to fulfill the objective of saving face in a conversation.

      1. The Cooperative Principle

Grice held the opinion that the two parties in verbal communication both expect to achieve a successful communication through cooperation (1975). For this purpose, they had to comply with some specific conversational principles. Thus Grice put forward the Cooperative Principle. According to it, the participants in a conversation normally need to communicate in a maximally, efficient, rational, and cooperative way. They should speak sincerely, relevantly and clearly, while providing sufficient information. However, in reality, the speakers sometimes fail to abide by the principle. So, when any of the four maxims is violated, “conversation implicature” occurs. That is, the real intent of the speaker has surpassed the literal meaning of his or her speech and needs careful deduction because the speaker usually expresses his or her real purpose in an indirect and roundabout way. In this aspect, hedges can well serve the

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