Chapter One Introduction
1.1 Research Background
Hedges refer to “words whose job is to make things fuzzier or less fuzzy”(Lakoff 1972: 195). These words could modify or limit the content of proposition interms of the degree of truth value or the scope involved in the discourse, indicatingthat the speaker is not completely sure about the content of the proposition, andreflecting the speaker’s subjective understanding and evaluation. As an importantlinguistic means in daily communication, hedges could make the statement morestable, considerate and polite, so as to improve and maintain the interpersonalrelationship between the two sides of communication and make the communicationeffective. They can be divided into two types: approximators and shields.Approximators include adaptors and rounders. Shields include plausibility shields andattribution shields (He Ziran 1985).Book review is an important genre. Swales (1990: 58) argues that “a genrecomprises a class of communicative events, the members of which share some set ofcommunicative purposes. These purposes are recognized by the expert members ofthe parent discourse community, and thereby constitute the rational for the genre.”
Book review shares the characteristics of a genre, such as comprising a set ofcommunicative purposes and involving some relationships between people that areacting in the given context. Therefore, it can be regarded as a kind of genre whichowns salient technicality and specialization, the purpose of which is to introduce andevaluate the particular work or a series of works in certain field. King (1968: 343)argues that “a book review serves two major functions: descriptive and evaluative. Itfirst of all can indicate to the reading public some general idea of the contents and itcan offer a critique, an evaluation of merit. The two functions are rather distinct andyet they belong together.” It can be seen that a good book review not only serves as asummary of the book, but could provide some evaluation comprehensively andobjectively. Moreover, book reviewers not only need specialized academic knowledge,but appropriate linguistic means to evaluate the books.
1.2 Research Objectives and Research Questions
The objectives of this study include exploring the types and distribution ofhedges in English and Chinese academic literary book reviews, discussing theinterpersonal meanings realized by hedges as appraisal resources in different contexts,and exploring the similarities and differences of hedges as appraisal resources inEnglish and Chinese academic literary book reviews in light of Appraisal Theory. Inorder to achieve these research objectives, the research questions formulated for thisstudy are listed as follows:
1. What are the types and distribution of hedges as appraisal resources inEnglish and Chinese academic literary book reviews?
2. What are the interpersonal meanings realized by hedges as appraisal resourcesin English and Chinese academic literary book reviews?
3. What are the similarities and differences of hedges as appraisal resources inEnglish and Chinese academic literary book reviews?
Chapter Two Literature Review
2.1 Review of Hedges
It is not necessary to make everything clear and precise in spoken discourse orwritten discourse. Fuzziness is one of the distinct characteristics in human language.In order to realize some communicative purposes, fuzzy language could be employedin different contexts. At present, there are a great number of studies on hedges. Thissection respectively describes the definition and classification of hedges. Besides,some previous studies on hedges in academic discourse will be reviewed.
2.1.1 Definition of Hedges
With respect to the definition of hedges, dictionaries provide some references forus. Oxford Advanced Learner’s English-Chinese Dictionary (1995: 188) defineshedges as “to go aside from the straightway; to shuffle, dodge; to trim; to avoidcommitting oneself irrevocably; to leave open a way of retreat or escape”. ADictionary of Stylistics (2010: 197) provides a more detailed definition of hedge,which defines “Hedge” in terms of discourse analysis and semantics, etc. It defineshedges as “qualification and toning-down of utterances and statements in order toreduce the riskness of what one says.” They are used as “mitigation of what mayotherwise seem too forceful” and “politeness or respect to strangers and superiors”from the perspectives of politeness principle and Speech Act Theory. But in semantics,hedges could be regarded as modifiers in a narrower sense. Besides, many scholarshave conducted a lot of studies on hedges, but there is no general agreement on thedefinition of them at present. The concepts of hedges used by linguists are far fromuniformity. Therefore, some famous scholars’ opinions about the definition of hedgesare introduced in the following part.
2.2 Review of Academic Book Reviews
Academic book review is an important academic genre, which is a platform foracademic exchange. This section will present the introduction of academic bookreview, and describe the features of it. Besides, some previous studies on academicbook reviews will be introduced.
2.2.1 The Introduction of Academic Book Reviews
According to Hyland (2000: 42), “book review has been an art of the academiclandscape for almost 2000 years and evolved as a modern genre in themid-seventeenth century”. “Book review is an very important part in academicjournals. The main parts of western academic journals are articles and reviews. Bookreview might be more important for readers. Because it can reflect all the aspects thatthe journal covers” (Rong Xinjiang 2014: 25). Xu Bairong, a famous scholar, arguesin Contemporary Publication Studies Series that book review is based on ‘evaluation’rather than ‘description’, or even ‘evaluation’ without ‘description’. Its functionsmainly include making comments on the content of the book, weighing its pros andcons. Its essence is rational value judgment, including positive value and negativevalue judgment. From the perspective of content, Xu Bairong (2005) divides bookreview into four types: political book review, ethical book review, artistic book reviewand academic book review. “Academic book reviews are reviews that measure the value of a book primarily from an academic professional perspective” (Xu Bairong2005: 80). It could be regarded as an academic paper. A book reviewer is usually ascholar, who is required to study and be competent in the academic fields involved inthe book reviewed. Otherwise, his or her analysis and judgment are hard to be correctand acceptable (Xu Bairong 2005). And the thesis focus on academic book reviews,specifically speaking, academic literary book reviews.
Chapter Three Theoretical Framework..................................23
3.1 Appraisal Theory......................................... 23
Chapter Four Research Methodology....................................... 30
4.1 Data Collection........................................30
4.2 UAM Corpus Tool........................................32
4.3 Research Procedures.....................................35
Chapter Five Results and Discussion..........................................36
5.1 The Types and Distribution of Hedges as Appraisal Resources in EALBRsand CALBRs...................................... 36
5.1.1 The Types and Distribution of Hedges as Appraisal Resources inEALBRs..................................... 36
5.1.2 The Types and Distribution of Hedges as Appraisal Resources inCALBRs..............................39
Chapter Five Results and Discussion
5.1 The Types and Distribution of Hedges as Appraisal Resources inEALBRs and CALBRs
As discussed in Chapter Three, hedges are widely used in academic bookreviews, which can be regarded as Engagement resources and Graduation resources.Based on the data collected and calculated by means of UAM Corpus Tool, the typesand distribution of hedges as appraisal resources in EALBRs and CALBRs will bepresented in this section respectively.
5.1.1 The Types and Distribution of Hedges as Appraisal Resources in EALBRs
Firstly, the types and distribution of hedges are identified and calculated carefully,according to Prince et al.’s classification. All subtypes of hedges are involved inEnglish academic academic literary book reviews. The distribution of hedges inEALBRs is listed in the following table.
Chapter Six Conclusion
6.1 Major findings
Through the quantitative and qualitative analyses of hedges as appraisalresources in 20 EALBRs and 20 CALBRs, the types and distribution of hedges asEngagement resources and Graduation resources in terms of each subcategory arelisted in a few tables, the interpersonal meanings realized by hedges as Engagementresources and Graduation resources in English and Chinese academic literary bookreviews are analyzed in detail. What’s more, the similarities and differences of hedgesas appraisal resources in EALBRs and CALBRs are explored.
Firstly, there are abundant hedges used in both EALBRs and CALBRs, which areinvolved with each subtype of hedges. In addition, hedges as appraisal resourcesdistribute differently in EALBRs and CALBRs. In EALBRs, there are 547 hedges,including 364 approximators, accounting for 66.54% and 183 shields, accounting for33.46%. Hedges with the frequencies ranking from high to low are rounders,plausibility shields, adaptors and attribution shields. With regard to Engagementresources, hedges as Dialogic Contraction resources take up 33.08% with thefrequency of 88, and hedges as Dialogic Expansion resources take up 66.92% with thefrequency of 178. With regard to Graduation resources, hedges as Focus resourcestake up 23.49% with the frequency of 66, and hedges as Force resources take up76.51% with the frequency of 215. In CALBRs, there are 576 hedges, including 457approximators, accounting for 79.34% and 119 shields, accounting for 20.66%. Thefrequencies ranking from high to low are rounders, adaptors, plausibility shields andattribution shields. With regard to Engagement resources, hedges as DialogicContraction resources take up 46.56% with the frequency of 88, and hedges asDialogic Expansion resources take up 53.44% with the frequency of 101. With regardto Graduation resources, hedges as Focus resources take up 13.95% with thefrequency of 54, and hedges as Force resources take up 86.05% with the frequency of333.