Interlanguage View on Hedging
This paper examines from the viewpoint of interlanguage pragmatics, that is, it focuses on the use of hedges by foreign language speakers. The paper concentrates on conversations by advanced Finnish speakers of English, comparing their performance both with conversation by native (British) speakers of English and the Finns' own conversations in Finnish. That is, there are comparisons between interlanguage, target language, and native language data.
The purpose is to describe the extent to which the learners' use of hedges differs from native speaker performance, and to assess whether these differences might have some unfortunate interpersonal consequences. The question of pragmatic transfer will also be dealt with in discussing the effect of learners' L1 on their use of hedges in English.
The findings indicate that even though the non-native speakers are fluent as far as grammar and vocabulary are concerned, their use of hedges remains non-nativelike. They use hedges clearly less than the native speakers, and there are also qualitative differences in the way the two groups use hedges. As a result the non-native speakers seem, on the whole, more detached, more matter-of-fact, and less involved with each other and the topic at hand than the native speakers of either English or Finnish. As this has obvious implications for language teaching, the question of teaching pragmatic aspects of language will also be briefly discussed.