Exploration of Modals as a Hedging Device in the Academic Text Written by International Postgraduate Students: A Multiple Case Study

Nego, Yuichiro (2017) Exploration of Modals as a Hedging Device in the Academic Text Written by International Postgraduate Students: A Multiple Case Study. [Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]

[img] PDF - Registered users only - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (1MB)

Abstract

This paper aims to investigate how international postgraduate students use modals as

hedges in academic writing in comparison with native writers and what factors may

affect their use of those modals. For these purposes, native writers’ and non-native

writers’ corpora were compiled by collecting essays from MICUSP and seven

international MA students. In addition, a questionnaire survey was also conducted so

as to collect the international students’ demographic data about their L1, proficiency

and learning experiences. The analysis of the corpora showed that six out of seven

non-native writers overused the possibility modals (i.e. may, might, could and can)

whilst only three of them overused the epistemic possibility modals (may, might and

could) compared with the native writers. Further analysis demonstrated each

participant relied on a particular modal rather than used them in a balanced manner.

In addition, the deeper analysis of instances of ‘can’ indicated the possibility that some

of the participants confused its usage with that of ‘could’. The exploration of the data

obtained from the questionnaire survey showed that the L1 background is likely to

affect the use of possibility modals, especially when the writer’s L1 has the equivalent

words to the possibility modals in English. Furthermore, the learning experience is

also likely to have some impacts on the use of modals in question. In particular, the

discourse-level awareness-raising activity could facilitate non-native writers to use

‘may’. On the other hand, proficiency did not seem to have a strong effect on the use

of possibility modals. In the Conclusion chapter, some pedagogical implications are

suggested regarding teaching the use of modals as hedges.

Item Type: Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)
Depositing User: Gigg, Diane
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2018 16:35
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2018 10:04
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/50239

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View