The Concept of Hedging: Origins, approaches and definitions (abstract)
This paper deals with the origin of the concept of hedges viewed as semantic modifiers, both in the narrower sense arising from the work of George Lakoff, and its further development in the last two decades. Recently, more attention has been given to aspects pertaining to discourseanalysis and speech-act theory.
Notions of hedging have been discussed under various headings referring to different perspectives (politeness; indirectness; vagueness, etc). A number of cross-cultural studies, as well as approaches concerned with LSP-research, have focused on hedges. The paper treats the difficulties involved in lexical description and outlines current problems in defining and classifying hedges and related elements adequately and the wealth of aspects which the term is seen to encompass.
It is argued that strategies employed in the hedgingprocess should be distinguished from the use of hedging-devices as modifiers, a distinction often neglected in literature.