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Facework in a Faceless Environment: A Contrastive Analysis of Hedges in Readers' Comments on Political and Personal Issues in E-newspapers
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The present study investigates the use of hedging devices in the readers’ comment section of the newspaper The Guardian Online. Two comment sections were chosen for the contrastive study: ‘Politics’ in the subsection ‘Comment is free’ and the series ‘Problem solved’ in the subsection ‘Life and style’. The corpus-based analysis of the frequency of hedges has revealed that the incidence of hedging devices in comments on personal issues is higher (by 19.2%) than on political articles. Three of the most frequently occurring hedging devices, namely, might, SEEM and I (don’t) think underwent further contextual analysis: the utterances containing these items were classified according to their illocutionary force, applying Bach’s (2003) classification of illocutionary acts. The most commonly hedged speech act types, characteristic of each section, were revealed.  Subsequently, an attempt was made to account for these findings from the perspective of ‘face’ and ‘facework’ as represented by Brown and Levinson (1987), Lim and Bowers (1991), MacGeorge, Lichtman and Pressey (2002), Ting-Toomey and Kurogi (1998). Since hedging is considered to be an effective strategy in minimizing ‘threats’ to the face of the addressee, it has  been possible to conclude that in discussions of personal issues participants are more concerned to ‘save’ the addressee’s face than in the case of political matters where the comment writers’ ‘self-face seems to be in the forefront.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 44 p.
Keyword [en]
Hedging, face, facework, computer-mediated communication, readers’ comments, e-newspapers, speech acts, illocutionary force
National Category
Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-103407OAI: diva2:717329
Educational program
Available from: 2014-09-29 Created: 2014-05-14 Last updated: 2014-09-29Bibliographically approved

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