A Cross-Cultural Study of the Use of Hedging Markers and Dogmatism in Postgraduate Writing of Native and Non-native Speakers of English

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
This study investigates the frequency of hedged propositions in academic writing, which are produced by both native (NSs) and non-native speakers (NNSs). To this end, two corpora, which represent native and non-native writings respectively, are compiled and investigated using contrastive interlanguage analysis (CIA). This computer-aided investigation, which involves comparing quantitative and qualitative data, is adopted to identify what the most frequent hedging markers, used by native and non-native writers, are, and whether there is any significant difference between the frequencies of these markers in both writings. It also intends to investigate the distributional pattern of these hedges across the paper sections. This research is an attempt to fill a gap in literature, as there is a paucity of studies written on corpus analysis in the Middle East, so this study seems to be one of the few sizeable corpora of tertiary English writing from the Middle East. The findings suggest that non-native speakers underuse hedges and the quality of these hedges is usually not so high as those of the native speakers. The study findings also indicate that the lexical density of non-native speakers’ writing is slightly less in comparison to that of the native speakers. Moreover, while there is an overuse of modal auxiliaries with root meanings in the non-native’s corpus, the number of intensifiers, especially probability adverbs, is less than that of the native speakers. Finally, there is an overuse of all-round boosters in the non-native speakers’ corpus. All these deficiencies lead to either excessively emphatic or overly tentative writing. The researcher concluded that many of these language problems are teaching-induced or due to L1 transfer. The study ends with recommendations for future research.
hedging markers, dogmatism, postgraduate writing, native speakers, non-native speakers