Hedging as an Index of Gender Realization in Research Articles in Applied Linguistics

Document Type : Research Paper


University of Tabriz


Despite the importance of hedging in academic productions, its use in different disciplines and genres has been given little attention (Hyland, 1998; Crystal, 1995). More precisely, the role of different genders as contributors to this social phenomenon (i.e., research articles) has been taken as neutral, as if gender is inconsequential in identity construction. The studies done in English suggest that females’ language is proportionately more hedged. So hedging has been claimed to be a strategy that is used mostly by female writers than male writers. To examine the role of gender in text construction, we investigated the linguistic realizations of the identities reflected in male and female authors’ preferences for hedging words in the research articles in applied linguistics. To this end, 130 single-authored research articles written in the field of applied linguistics were examined. The results revealed significant differences between two sets of articles in using hedges. Statistical analysis revealed that female authors’ articles were significantly (i.e., p-value of 0.000) more hedged as compared with those of males. Furthermore, it is suggested that the hedging words that are used in these articles could be used as an index through which gender of the author is identified.


Alonso, R., Alonso, M., & Mariñas, L. (2012). Hedging: An Exploratory study of pragmatic transfer in nonnative English reader’s rhetorical preferences. Ibérica, 23, 47-64.
Ansarin, A., & Seyyed Bat-ha-ie, M. (2009, June). Constructing and revealing gender in research articles. Paper presented at the Second Conference of the Swedish Association for Language and Cognition (SALC-2009), Stockholm, Sweden.
Argomon, S., Koppel, M., Fine, J., & Shimoni, A. R. (2003). Gender, genre, and writing style in formal written text. Text, 23, 321-345.
Barcroft, J. (2003). Effects of questions about word meaning during l2 Spanish lexical learning. The Modern Language Journal, 87, 546-561.
Bhatia, K. V. (1993). Analysing genre: Language use in professional setting. London & New York: Longman.
Bucholtz, M. ((1999). Why be normal? Language and identity practices in a community of nerd girls. Language in Society, 28(2), 203-223.
Cameron, D. (1990). Feminism and linguistic theory. London: Macmillan.
Cameron, D. (2007). The myth of mars and Venus: Do men and women really speak different languages? . Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cameron, D., & Coates, J. (1989). Some problems in the sociolinguistics explanations of sex differences. In J. Coates & D. Cameron (Eds.), Women in their speech communities (pp. 13-26). London: Longman.
Coates, J. (1983). The semantics of the modal auxiliaries (Croom Helm Linguistics Series), London, Henley, and Boston: Routledge Kegan & Paul.
Crismore, A., Makkannen, R., & Steffensen, M. (1993). Metadiscourse in persuasive writing: A study of texts Written by American and Finnish University students. Written Communication, 10, 39-71.
Crystal, D. (1995). In search of English: A traveler’s guide. ELT Journal, 49(2), 107-121.
Eckert, P., & McConnell-Ginet, S. (2003). Language and gender. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
Fasold, R., & Conner-Linteon, J. (2006). An introduction to language. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Fishman, P. (1983). Interaction: The work women do. In B. Thorne et al. (Eds.), Language, gender and society (pp. 89–101). Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House. (First published 1978 in Social Problems, 25: 397-406.)
Ghazanfari, F., & Abassi, B. (2012). Functions of hedging: The case of academic Persian prose in one of Iranian universities. Studies in Literature and Language, 4(1), 143-153.
Griffiths, C. (2003). Patterns of language learning strategy use. System, 31, 367-383.
Haas, M. (1944). Men’s and women’s speech in Koasati. Language, 20, 142-149.
Herring, S. C., & Paolillo, J. C. (2006).Gender and genre variation in weblogs. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 10, 439-459.
Holmes, J. (1984). Modifying illocutionary force. Journal of Pragmatics, 8, 345-365.
Holmes, J. (1988). Doubt and certainty in ESL textbooks. Applied Linguistics, 9, 20-44.
Holmes, J. (1990). Hedges and boosters in women’s and men’s speech. Language and Communication, 10, 185-205.
Holmes, J. (1992). An introduction to sociolinguistics. London & New York: Longman.
Holmes, J. (1995). Women, men and politeness. London: Longman.
Holmes, J., & Meyerhoff, M. (2003). Different voices, different views: An introduction to current research in language and gender. In J. Holmes & M. Meyerhoff (Eds.), The handbook of language and gender (pp. 1-18). Oxford: Blackwell.
Holmes, J., & Meyerhoff, M. (2005). The handbook of language and gender. Blackwell Publishing.
Hyland, K. (1994). Hedging in academic writing and EAP textbooks. English for Specific Purposes, 13, 239-256.
Hyland, K. (1996a). Talking to academy: Forms of hedging in science research articles. Written Communication, 13, 251-281.
Hyland, K. (1996b). Writing without conviction? Hedging in science research articles. Applied Linguistics, 17, 433-454.
Hyland, K. (1998). Boosting, hedging and the negotiation of academic knowledge. Text, 18, 349-382.
Hyland, K. (2005). Stance and engagement: A model of interaction in academic discourse. Discourse Studies, 7(2), 173-192.
Labov, W. (1991). the intersection of sex and social class in the course of linguistic change. Language Variation and Change, 2, 205-251.
Lakoff, G. (1975). Language and women’s place. New York: Harper Colophon Books.
Litosseliti, L. (2006). Gender and language. London: Hodder Arnold.
Littlemore, J. (2001). An empirical study of relationship between cognitive and the use of communicative strategy. Applied Linguistics, 22, 241-265.
McElhinny, B. (2003). Language, gender and economies in global transitions: Provocative and provoking questions about how gender is articulated. In B. McElhinny (Ed.), Words, worlds, and material girls: Language, gender, globalization (pp.1-40). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Milroy, L. (1980). Language and social networks, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Mulac, A., & Lundell, L. (1994). Effect of gender-linked language differences in adults’ written discourse:Multivariate test of languageeffects. Language and Communication, 14, 299-309.
Myers, G. (1989). The pragmatics of politeness in scientific articles. Applied Linguistics, 10(1), 1-35.
Nelson, C. (2002). Why queer theory is useful in teaching: A perspective from English as a second language teaching. In K. Robinson, J. Irwin, & T. Ferfolja (Eds), From here to diversity: The social impact of lesbian and gay issues in education in Australia and New Zealand (pp. 43–53). Binghampton, NY: Haworth Press.
Palmer, F. (1979). Modality and the English modals. London: Longman.
Paltridge, B. (2006). Discourse analysis. London: Continuum.
Quirk, R., Greenbaum, S., Leech, G., & Svartvik, J. (1985). A comprehensive grammar of the English language. London & New York: Longman.
Robson, M., & Stockwell, P. (2005).  Language in theory: A resource book for students: abcd. London & New York: Rutledge.
Ross, S. (1998). Self-assessment in second language testing: A metaanalysis and analysis of experiential factors. Language Testing Journal, 15, 1-20.
Salager-Meyer, F. (1994). Hedges and textual communicative function in medical English written discourse. English for Specific Purposes, 13, 149-170.
Skelton, J. (1997). The representation of truth in academic medical writing. Applied Linguistics, 18(2), 121-140.
Stockwell, P. (2005). Texture and identification. European Journal of English Studies, 9(2), 143-153.
Sunderland, J. (2000). New understanding of gender and language classroom research: Texts, teacher talk and student talk. Language Testing Research, 4, 149-173.
Sunderland, J. (2006). Language and gender. London: Rutledge.
Talbot, M. (2003). Gender Stereotypes: Reproduction and Challenge. In J. Holmes & M. Meyerhoff (Eds.), The handbook of language and gender (pp. 468-487). Oxford: Blackwell.
Tannen, D. (1990). You just don’t understand: Women and men in conversation. New York: Ballantine.
Trudgill, P. (1974). The social differentiation of English in Norwich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Vande-Kopple, W. J., & Crismore, A. (1990). Reader’s reactions to hedges in a science textbook. Linguistics and Education, 2, 303-322.
Varttala, T. (2001). Hedging in scientifically oriented discourses: Exploring variation according to discipline and intended audience (Electronic Doctoral Dissertation. Acta Electronica Universitatis Tamperensis 138). Retrieved from http://acta.uta.fi/pdf/951-44-5195-3.pdf.
Vassileva, I. (2001). Commitment and detachment in English and Bulgarian academic writing. English for Specific Purposes, 20, 83-102.
Vold, T. E. (2006). Epistemic modality markers in research articles: A cross-linguistic and cross-disciplinary study. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 16(1), 61-87.
Wray, A. Trott, K., Bloomer, A., Reay, S., & Butler, C. (1998). Projects in linguistics: A practical guide to researching language. London: Arnold.
Zimmerman, D., & West, C. (1983). Small Insults: A Study of Interruptions in Cross-sex Conversations between Unacquainted Persons. In B. Thorne, C. Kramarae, & N. Henley (Eds.), Language, gender and society (pp.­102-117). Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.