Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

Beyond mood and modality: epistemic modality markers as hedges in research articles. A cross-disciplinary study

Ignacio Vázquez Orta, Diana Giner

Abstract

In this paper a cross-disciplinary study of the use of epistemic markers as hedging rhetorical strategies in research articles in English is carried out. Based on computer readable data, and combining quantitative and qualitative methods, the article argues that the use of modal expressions can be better explained as reflecting the strategies of hedging used by writers for dealing with the social conditions involved in the event of publishing an article, which is addressed to different discourse communities. Three different disciplines (Marketing, Biology and Mechanical Engineering) belonging to the soft knowledge vs. hard knowledge discipline continuum are investigated here. Our analysis of hedging in these three different disciplines has revealed, not only that there are differences in the occurrence of hedges in the RAs selected, but also that these differences depend on the nature of the data used for the research in each discipline. Each discipline tries to fulfil social needs in different areas. The sociological features of each discipline may be shaping the discourse in their RAs differently. This is reflected in the varied presence of hedging devices in Marketing, Biology and Mechanical Engineering research articles.

Keywords

Análisis del discurso; Discurso académico; Textos científicos; Marcadores del discurso; Estrategias discursivas; Atenuación; Lenguaje científico



DOI: https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2008.21.10

Copyright (c) 2008 Ignacio Vázquez Orta, Diana Giner

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