Luận văn A Vietnamese-English cross-cultural study of the use of hedging before giving bad news

As Brown and Levinson (1987) illustrate, hedging can also be used to tone down the force of for example request, as in “Give me a hand, if you can”. In such cases, one might even say that the reservation included in the hedge may be seen as a way out for the addressee in case he or she in fact is not in a position to help, the hedge thus signaling the conditions under which the request may be disregarded by the addressee. As work by Stubbs (1986) and Markkanen and Schroder (1982) illustrate, hedging may be taken to involve lexical items, propositions and illocutionary forces. While distinguishing between hedges of these three types is illuminating in theoretical terms, it seems that the distinction between them is not always clear-cut.

 

G.Lakoff who drew attention to the theoretical importance of the phenomenon also reports R. Lakoff’s observation that certain verbs and syntactic construction convey hedged performative that is, they modify the force of speech act. They can also be studied as Hedges on illocutionary force. It is performative hedges in particular that are most important linguistic means of satisfying the S’s wants. Such hedges may be analyzed as adverbs on performative verbs that present the illocutionary force of the sentence.

 

 

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làm tốt đồ án và sống tốt ở Hà Nội nha anh. Rất có thể ngày anh bảo vệ đồ án tốt nghiệp em sẽ không ra cổ vũ anh được. Đừng giận em nha! (Báo Thế giới Phụ nữ số 27/ 2002) Em không thể nói, không thể diễn tả được mình đã đau đớn thế nào khi chúng mình chia tay nhau mặc dù chúng mình đã có nhiều kỷ niệm đẹp bên nhau. (v) These are also quality performed by auxiliary, emphasizing adverbs on explicit and deleted performatives English Vietnamese For sure I see it I can infer I widely conjecture Truthfully Honestly, Quite candidly, Quite frankly, Tôi chắc chắn đấy Thành thật mà nói Nói thật là Cũng phải nói ngay rằng E.g. The thief broke the lock, for sure I saw it I would say he won’t go out with Mary. _ Quantity hedges (i) Quantity hedges give notice that not as much or not as precise information as might be expected English Vietnamese I can’t tell you than that it is I should think Roughly More or less Approximately Give or take a few Or so All in all In nutshell To cut a long story short In short Basically So to speak Sort of Some sort of …. like To some extent In a way Somehow Up to a point Tôi cũng không biết chắc Tôi không còn biết nói gì hơn Khoảng chừng là Áng chừng là Xấp xỉ là Hình như là Tưởng như là, đâu như là Hàng chục là, hàng năm là Kiểu như là À, kiểu như nó cũng Ở một khía cạnh nào đó Về cơ bản là Biết đấy là đâu, biết đâu được chuyện đấy Một chút nữa, một tí nữa (ii) We also get expression with clear politeness functions like “I just say” - I just say getting there is not easy as it looks. - A: Have you ever been there? B: Well somewhere in the Middle East _ Relevance hedges (i) There are hedges English Vietnamese This may not be relevant/ appropriate/ timely but ……. This may sound like dumb question but…. Not to change the subject ……………….. Now is probably the time to say ………… I might mention at this point …………… Since I’ve been wondering ……………… Since it’s been on my mind …………….. Sorry, I’ve just thought ………………… By the way ……………………………... Oh I know ……………………………… Anyway ………………………………... While I remember ……………………... While I think of it ……………………... All right now Không biết có nên nói không Không dám cảm phiền ông Của đáng tội Chết một cái là Quả có thế ạ Nói bỏ ngoài ngoài tai Dù sao đi chăng nữa Tiện thể là Nhân tiện đây À nhân tiện Nói trộm bóng vía Nói anh bỏ quá cho (ii) The use of “now” interacts with the use of tense deixis, now making a claim for relevance (because it is a proximal deictic marker) and past tense hedging a bit on the relevance Now I was wondering if ……………. (iii) Also under this rubric fall hedges on whether the point or the purpose of the speech act is in fact relevance. For examples: - For assertions: I don’t know whether you’re interested but………………… If you ask me, ………………………… …………….., in case you want to know - For reply to the questions: Yes, since you ask Yes, if you care to know Vâng nếu anh thực sự muốn thế Vì anh đã hỏi nên Anh có biết không Nếu anh muốn biết, ý kiến của tôi là - For questions: …………..., do you know? - For commissives: I’m sorry, if you want to know my feelings. I’m furious, if you care to inquire my feelings on the matter. - For declarative : If you allowed me, …………………….. If we all agree …………………………. (iv) And there are clauses that modify the performative verb by giving reason why S made the utterance, making this an explicit claim to being relevant. E.g. Do you have any flour to spare because I’ve just run out? _ Manner hedges English Vietnamese If you see what I’m getting at If you see what I’m driving at To be succinct, Not to beat about the bush You see……………. What I meant was……….. More clearly, …………… To put it more simply, …. Now to be absolutely clear, I want I’m not sure if it makes sense …... I don’t know if this is clear at all Tôi xin đi thẳng vào vấn đề Ý tôi là…………………… Nói đơn giản là………….. Nói nôm na là …………... Để cho rõ ràng hơn …….. (ii) Not related are these expressions that query whether is following S’s discourse adequately English Vietnamese Yeah? Got it? OK? You with me? Is that clear? See? Phải không? ……….mà ……….nhé ……….nghe …… Rõ chưa? Such maxim hedges as those we have been discussing are used with great frequency in ordinary talk. According to Brown/ Levinson, they have in many cases straightforward politeness applications. Quality hedges that weaken S’s commitment may redress advice or criticisms: “I think perhaps you should”. Quantity hedges may be used to redress complaints or requests: “Could you make this copy more or less final?” Relevance hedges are useful ways of redressing offers or suggestions: “This may be misplaced but would you consider…?” And manner hedges can be used to redress all kinds of FTAs: “You are not exactly thrifty, if you see what you meant”. In addition to the hedges on the maxims with their FTA uses there are some which, while they may be derived from Maxim hedges, function directly as notices of violations of F wants. For example: “Frankly, to be honest, I hate to have to say this but ……, I don’t want to hurt you but (which preface criticisms and bad news)”. 2.4.2. Hedging as a positive politeness strategy In much of previous work, hedging has been viewed as a negative politeness strategy, but it may also at times be seen to have a positive politeness dimension. Brown and Levinson (1978/ 1987) are of the opinion that one way to express positive politeness toward one’s addressee; to communicate “that one’s own wants … are in some respects similar to the addressee’s wants” (1987: 101) is to avoid disagreement. One avoidance strategy is rending one’s opinion safely vague, seeking agreement with the addressee when the latter has not made his or her position clear. Sometimes, S may choose to be vague about his own opinions, so as not to get seen to disagree. For this reason, one characteristic device in positive politeness is to hedge these extremes in order to make one’s own opinion safely vague. Some hedges can have positive politeness functions as well, notably: sort of, kind of, like, in a way. E.g. I really sort of hope that your presentation will be good It is beautiful, in a way. True maybe. 2.5. Linguistic realizations of hedging The earliest studies into hedging were limited to a fairly narrow selection of linguistic expressions. For instance, only about 70 different items were listed in Lakoff’s paper. More recently, numerous linguistic phenomena have been associated with hedging; there nevertheless is no absolute uniformity between studies as to which linguistic phenomena should be regarded as falling within the category. Literature relating to hedging seems to suggest that hedges are linguistic choices that include an inherent component of fuzziness, providing the opportunity to comment on group membership, truth value and illocutionary force. However, there is variation between studies as to the actual items treated as hedges. In some studies, as in the case with Prince et al’s paper, the phenomena treated as hedges are not described very thoroughly. In other studies, the focus is on a specific linguistic feature, not the broad range of alternatives available for hedging. Hedges are sometimes listed as a number of items used for rounding numerical data, including items like: about, approximately, close to and in that round. While certain studies face with a specific linguistic phenomenon, others have attempted to cover a wider range. Studying hedging in new writing is drawn attention to an array of devices. How vagueness in presenting a list of other items typically used as hedges is firstly discussed. Most of the items on the list are verbal or adverbial expressions that involve different degrees of probability or otherwise play down the responsibility of the sender as concerns propositional content. The main categories consist of auxiliaries (e.g. may, might, can, could), semi-auxiliaries (appear, seem), full verb (suggest), the passive voice, various adverbs and adverbial (probably, almost, relatively), some adjectives (probable), indefinite nouns and pronouns. Similar items are also mentioned by Makannen and Schoder (1985) that modal verbs and particles, the use of some pronouns and even the avoidance of others, agentless passive, other impersonal expressions, and certain vocabulary choices may be seen as central manifestations of hedging in English and German. Skelton points out that there are a very large number of ways in which one can hedge in English, including impersonal phrases, the system of modal expressions, verbs like seem, look and appear, introductory phrase like I think, the suffix –ish in connection with certain adjectives and so on. While there are clearly numerous ways in which hedging may be realized in English, it is obvious that there are certain evident types of linguistic expression the spring to mind in this respect. As noted earlier, in the seminal work by Lakoff (1973), hedging was first approached with reference to a relatively limited set of hedges, including lexical items and phrases such as: roughly, sort of, strictly speaking, etc. In the course of time, the concept of hedging has come to be understood more broadly as including a numbers of ways of expressing uncertainty, vagueness, hesitation, and the like, that is, to cover various linguistic manifestations of feelings and thoughts. Here comes the overview of categories of hedges, all the details will be expressed later. First of all, the author would like to mention one of hedging devices-it’s modal auxiliaries, consisting of eight different modal auxiliaries, namely can, could, may, might, must, should, will, would. It may/ might/ can/ could well be true that he beat her. Full verbs are indeed used as hedges such as: believe, appear, assume, suggest, propose, imply, tend, imagine, reckon, seem. I don’t believe he knew me. In addition, we have adjectives used as hedges (potential, possible, likely, common, normal, usual, slight, and substantial); nouns as: likelihood, possibility, prospect, tendency, prediction, guess, hope, inclination” and adverbs: “usually, slightly, almost, generally, likely, apparently, potentially, somewhat, greatly, frequently, nearly, approximately”. I almost resigned. It can’t be denied that clause element also plays as hedges: If my memory doesn’t fail me As far as I know/ as you know I may be mistaken but I think I’m not sure if it’s right but I guess/ think …… Since I’ve been wondering ….. From linguistic realizations of hedging above, many researchers have basis to clarify hedges. Classification Prince/ Fader/ Bosk Within propositional content From the viewpoint of discourse analysis Prince et al start from Lakoff’s definition of hedges as devices that make things fuzzy, but add that there are at least two kinds of fuzziness. One is fuzziness within the proposition content, the other fuzziness “in the relationship between the prepositional content and the speaker that is speaker’s commitment to the truth of the proposition conveyed” (Prince/ Fader/ Bosk, 1982: 85). Hedges were mainly discovered in the discourse that was related to the physicians’ uncertainty in the medical-technical domain. approximators In the relationship between the propositional content and the speaker shields Fuzziness Accordingly, there are two types of hedges; one is called approximator affecting the truth-conditions of propositions. His feet were sort of blue. Approximator And shield, reflects the degree of the speaker’s commitment to the truth-value of the whole proposition, not affecting the truth-conditions. I think his feet were blue. Shield Hubler A similar distinction is distinguished by Hubler (1983) between what he calls understatements and hedges although both are devices used for expressing “indetermination”. For example, the following sentence is indeterminate. It’s a bit cold in here. However, according to Hubler, there are two kinds of indetermination: phrastic and neustic. understatements Phrastic indetermination concerns the propositional content of a sentence Neustic indetermination is connected with the claim to validity of the proposition a speaker makes Indetermination hedges Thus, this sentence contains an understatement It is a bit cold in here Understatement While the following consists of a hedge It is cold in Alaska, I suppose Hedge Hubler’s division thus greatly resembles what are called approximators and shields by Prince/ Fader/ Bosk. Hubler himself admits that both understatements and hedges perform the same function of expressing indetermination, of making sentences more acceptable to H and thus increasing their chances of ratification. 2.6. Hedging before giving bad news 2.6.1. Giving bad news as a speech act Types of illocutionary acts are distinguished by types of illocutionary intents (intended illocutionary effects). For example, to inform someone of something is not only to express a belief in it but also to express one’s intention that H believes it. According to the theory of speech acts of Austin, Richard, Yule…, like any other speech activities, giving bad news is produced as a speech act, namely, an act of announcing, disclosing, informing, reporting, advising performed via an utterance by participants in interaction. Giving bad news is an illocutionary act. Like most illocutionary acts, it is “in some sense the inherent function of the speech acts, which might be established, by simply looking at the act itself in relation to existing beliefs” (Hudson, 1990: 111). Much taxonomy of illocutionary acts has been proposed but we will not discuss or compare all of them. Austin’s original scheme (1962, lecture XII) included a rich variety of illocutionary act type but as Searl (1975) has argued that there are no clear principles by which Austin collected them into his five classes. All subsequent taxonomies are attempted improvements on Austin’s. Its category should satisfy the criteria for scheme’s blades of classification must be tied to some systematic account of illocutionary acts. Let us look at the following suggestions of some famous authors on the speech act classification in order to find out the position of the speech act of giving bad news in language use in context According to Austin, they are divided into four types: explosives, exercitives, behaveties and commisives. Similarly, Searl suggests five types, namely: _ Representatives: tell people how and what things are. A representative can be tested either true or false as the speaker asserts, says, reports, informs, suggests, doubts, denies and so on. _ Directives: get the H to do something by using suggestions, requests, commands, etc. _ Commissives: commit the S to do something such as promises, threats, etc. _ Declaratives: bring about changes in the world _ Expressives: express feelings and attitudes about a certain state of affairs, for instance, to apologize, regret, thank, etc. Bach and Harnish (1979: 41) also suggest the following four subdivisions of illocutionary acts, which are basically the same as the ones of Austin and Searl and the position of giving bad news can be easy seen as follows: Communicative illocutionary acts I II III IV Constatives Assertives Predictives Retrodictives Descriptives Informatives Confirmatives Concessives Retractives Assentives Dissentives Dispulatives Responsives Suggestives Supportives Directives Requestives Questions Requirements Prohibitives Permissives Advisories Commissives Promises Offers Acknowledgement Apologize Condole Congratulate Greet Thank Bid Accept Reject As can be seen in the table, giving bad news is recognized from the Constative column, which expresses the S’s belief and his intention or desire that the H has a form or continues to hold a like belief. Informatives simply consist of such items as: advise, announce, apprise, disclose, inform, insist, notify, point out, report, reveal, tell, testify. What distinguishes informative from simple assertives is that the speaker expresses (in addition to his belief) the intention that the H forms the belief that P. For assertives, S expressed intention is that H forms the belief, or continues to believe that P. We might say that the time of utterance, S presumes that H does not believe that P. Here we rely on a notion of illocutionary presumption in his illocutionary intention. 2.6.2. Hedging as a device As Brown and Levinson (1987) illustrate, hedging can also be used to tone down the force of for example request, as in “Give me a hand, if you can”. In such cases, one might even say that the reservation included in the hedge may be seen as a way out for the addressee in case he or she in fact is not in a position to help, the hedge thus signaling the conditions under which the request may be disregarded by the addressee. As work by Stubbs (1986) and Markkanen and Schroder (1982) illustrate, hedging may be taken to involve lexical items, propositions and illocutionary forces. While distinguishing between hedges of these three types is illuminating in theoretical terms, it seems that the distinction between them is not always clear-cut. G.Lakoff who drew attention to the theoretical importance of the phenomenon also reports R. Lakoff’s observation that certain verbs and syntactic construction convey hedged performative that is, they modify the force of speech act. They can also be studied as Hedges on illocutionary force. It is performative hedges in particular that are most important linguistic means of satisfying the S’s wants. Such hedges may be analyzed as adverbs on performative verbs that present the illocutionary force of the sentence. In the first place, operations are syntactically done in English with tags or with expressions like: “I wonder”. These markers are called “Appealers” by N.Quang It was cold, wasn’t it? Do me a favor, will you? I wonder if (you know whether)……. Sometimes performative hedges are encoded on words or particles which may also hedge propositional content. He really did run that way I tell you sincerely he ran that way I tell you he certainly ran that way These examples above illustrate that adverbs on higher performatives may be lowered into an embedded position in their complement sentences, hence the ambiguity as to what is being modified. Brown and Levinson (1987) divided particles which hedge illocutionary force into “strengthener” those that mainly act as emphatic hedges: “exactly”, “precisely”, “emphatically” and “weakeners” those that soften or tentativize what they modify. Nevertheless, the author only investigates weakeners mentioned above in the scope of the study because of the suitability to the topic of the thesis “Hedging before giving bad news”. Weakening particles is to use adverbs as: “really, sincerely, and just” Sincerely, the more I hear about your husband, the less I like him. That’s just true. The tentativizers: “perhaps, maybe, I wonder” which seem often to indicate the presence of an implicature are ways of avoiding FTAs. It looks good, but maybe, this job does not suit you. Có vẻ tốt lắm nhưng có lẽ công việc này không phù hợp với anh đâu. Dubitative particles: “I guess/ I think/ I suppose …..” suspend the felicity condition on assertions that the S knows what he says to be true: “You are sad, I guess”. As we can see above, the felicity condition dubitative particles suspend is the sincerity condition so that S is not claiming to be doing the speech act he appears to be doing or doesn’t take responsibility for the truth of his assertion. In the second place, Heringer (1972:55) describes a set of illocutionary force hedges that consist of the expression of a felicity condition in an “if clause” Catch me if you can “If you can” in the above example pragmatically functions as hedges on the force of the speech act. Here comes the other phrases of “if clause”. I wonder if/ I wonder whether …….. …………if I may ask you? …………if you don’t mind? …………if you want/ you can? If you allow me …………….. If you are already …………... Another level of phenomena is presented by “you know”, “you see”, “I mean”, “as it were”, “in all possibility”, “it seems to me”. I was coming out of the door, you know when I mean I saw him standing there, waiting. From the contrary-to-expectation sense one moves naturally to a commiservative usage which softens the FTA of conveying bad news and which we can gloss as: “I’m afraid”, “I’m sorry”. He’s left, I’m afraid. I’m sorry, he didn’t come. FTA source for implicatures are “sort of, kind of, a mere” and “a little bit, just a little bit” serves notice of reluctance impinge. I sort of hate to say this but …….. The fish is great, but a little bit salty. Món cá này rất ngon nhưng hơi mặn một chút (Vietnamese) Or indicate a co-operative avoidance of positive disagreement. I really sort of think. There are phrases which have distribution predicable essentially on pragmatic rather than semantic grounds but which are transparently related to literal meanings that already have hedging functions. In his reply to Ross (1970) and G. Lakoff, Fraser (1972) notes apparent counter examples to the claim that the performative verb must be the highest verb in surface structure. I regret that I must inform you of your dismissal. I am pleased to be able to offer you the job. I would like to congratulate you. Since on our view performativity is indirect even in explicit performative utterances, these sorts of sentence offer no special problems for our account. Embedding increases the inferential load on the H, but there is no difference in kind between performative utterances with embedded and those with embedded performative verbs. Sadok (1974: 55-61) has in effect argued against the indirectness of these cases and Fraser (1975) has gone on to investigate sentences like these in some detail under the label of hedged performatives. Fraser (1975) has discussed the interesting cases of utterances that differ from simple performative utterances in the performative verbs preceded by a modal like “must”, “can”, “will”, “would”, “might”, “should” or semi modal such as “have to”. Such utterances seem to have the illocutionary force of the act named by the performative verb used, as illustrated by typical utterances of sentences like these: I must ask you to leave I can promise you will be home. I want to thank you for the Beaujolais. I would suggest you try some. Fraser is concerned both to account for their illocutionary force in terms of certain conventional principles, and to account for cases (weak performative) that do not have the force of the act named by the performative verb, such as: “I must forbid you from cutting off your right arm”. Fraser seems to assume (he says nothing explicity) that simple performatives do not pose the same explanatory problem as hedged performatives. Since he indicates nothing to the contrary, presumably he thinks that simple performatives are literal and direct illocutionary acts and therefore that they have their illocutionary force. For hedged performatives, like standardized indirect acts generally, there is ample precedent for the inference the H is intended to make, consequently the SAS is short-circuited. What distinguishes direct performatives and hedged performatives from illocutionary standardization generally is that the illocutionary verb explicitly occurs in the utterance. Thus the H’s search procedure, even if such utterances lacked precedent, would be simple and short. In reviewing the other main cases of hedged performatives, we will give brief versions of the inference required in accordance with the maxim of sufficient reason. According to Fraser, hedged performatives with “can” generally require some adverbial like “now”, “finally” or “at last” to count as the sort of illocutionary act named by the performative verb. I can now admit that I did Such an adverbial is not necessary, however, as shown by example repeated here: I can promise you will be home. The hedged performatives with “would”, “might”, “should” are interesting because grammatically they seem to be consequence of subjunctive conditionals without any expressed antecedent. A sentence like this might be construed as an elliptical version of a conditional with an antecedent like “If you were to ask my opinion”. I would suggest a short of Irish whiskey. Finally, Fraser claims that for each kind of hedged performative only certain sorts of illocutionary verbs work performatively with the modal (or other expression) in question. The following, for example, are clearly not acts of the sort named by the performative verb. I must invite you to say. I can (now) ask you to go I will or

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