Nominal Modal Phrases

5.Conclusion

Scientific writers pay attention to what they say and who they are saying it to. They need to choose strategic stereotypes of hedges to best negotiate the ratification of their claims. In science, hedges play a critical role in receiving ratification for claims from the audience by allowing writers to present statements with appropriate accuracy, caution and humility because competent audience may criticize their claims in one way or another. Successful academic writing involves researchers evaluating their data and acknowledging alternative views because all statements require ratification. Acquiring ratification depends on the appropriate use of various rhetorical and interactive features of which hedges are among the most important. Thus, researchers should know the reasons why hedges are really needed in knowledge especially in writing the statements to get ratification.

Kubui and Fand in Salager-Meyer (1997) argues that hedges are used to signal distance and to avoid absolute statements which might put scientist in an embarrassing situation if subsequent conflicting evidence or contradictory finding arises. Thus, writers need to employ appropriate hedges as strategies to mitigate their claims and to achieve distance from what they write. It is dealt with the main reason to use hedges in academic writing. Writers can probably tone down their statements in order to reduce the risk of opposition and minimize the threat to face that happens on every act of communication, even in written communication to their readers. This position associates hedges with scientific imprecision and defines them as linguistic cues of bias which avoid accountability for statements. It is better to use definition of Kubui and Fand in Salager-Meyer (1997) because academic writing is now generally seen as a purposeful interaction between writers and readers in which the writers try to construct their coherent and credible representations and their researches.

Amy Hatmaker (2010) proposes couple of reasons why hedging should sometimes be used. The first reason is related to the audience and the second one is related to the writer. Concerning the audience factors, the writers may use hedges to protect themselves in presenting material that they are unsure how the audience will respond to, to present misleading the audience when there is a lack of solid, consistent research on a topic, or there is disagreement in the field about that issue and to show that the writers understand the expectations of courtesy in their field. With respect to the reasons related to the writer, hedges may be used to keep from appearing biased or opinionated, to prevent making absolute statements or overstatements that subject their work to criticism or make the research seem simplistic, to protect themselves if they are not sure that the information is correct and to divert opinion away from them, particularly if the information is troublesome or potentially inflammatory. Amy Hatmaker (2010) also provides two techniques for writers to employ hedging. One way is to use the words that reduce the absolute value of the statement which is called tempering method. The other option is to divert the opinion away from the writer. Deciding which method to use depends on the intent of the statement and the audience for the paper. If the audience has a great deal of knowledge on the subject it may be best to use the diversion method. By using the name of a scholar who express the opinion, the writers move the claim away from themselves, limiting the potential to offend the audience.

In this research hedging expressions in the discussion sections of selected RAs from the Journals of Myanmar Academy of Arts and Science have been investigated. In analyzing the data, the researchers of all selected RAs can use all strategic stereo types of hedges, varying in the occurrence. Among them, it is explored that the researchers use approximators of degree, quantity, frequency and time most frequently. According to Martin Martin (2008), approximations indicate an unwillingness to make precise and complete commitment to the proposition expressed. In addition, approximators allow writers to express proposition less categorically and thus make them more acceptable to the readers. It seems likely that ideas of Myanmar researchers are in line with the statement of Kubui and Fand in Saleger-Meyer (1997) that hedges are used to signal distance and to avoid absolute statements which might put scientist in an embarrassing situation if subsequent conflicting evidence or contradictory finding arises. Thus, it may be assumed that the researchers of all selected RAs can tone down their statements in order to reduce the risk of opposition and minimize the threat to face that happens in every act of communication. Referring to the reasons related to the audience by Amy Marker (2010), it seems reasonable to assume that the researchers of all selected RAs try to protect themselves in presenting material that they are unsure how the audience will respond to.

 In addition, reflecting the reasons related to the writer, it seems likely that Myanmar researchers prevent making absolute statements or overstatements that subject their work to criticism or make the research seem simplistic. Accordingly, it can be said that the researchers hedge in writing through the use of tempering method by Amy Marker (2010). On the other hand, expressing their findings less categorically is the same as accurately stating uncertain scientific claims with appropriate caution. Thus, the use of hedges by Myanmar researchers is in line with the proposition by Hyland (1995) 'scientific writing is a balance of fact and evaluation as the writers try to present information as fully, accurately and objectively as possible'. According to the facts mentioned above, it can be said that in terms of approximotors, Myanmar researchers use hedges for the reasons of ‘minimizing the threat to face’ and ‘being a way of being more precise in reporting results. In other words, it can be said that the researchers of all selected RAs use accuracy-based hedges by Hyland (1996) because the approximatorsspecifly the state of knowledge on the subject not only by defining how statements are to be understood but also by accurately asserting the writer's assessment of the certainty of the proposition.

Findings reveal that the researchers of all selected RAs use modal auxiliary verbs second most frequently. Some of the modal auxiliary verbs can soften the degree of writer’s commitment invested in the statements. However, modal auxiliary verbs conveying vagueness and politeness to avoid confrontation between researcher and readers and to attenuate the proposition are used low frequently. These features are dealt with personal accountability, minimizing the threat to face, expressing a lack of certainty, negotiating an accurate representation of the state of knowledge and  saving the hearer’s face. Accordingly, the Myanmar researchers of all selected RAs use hedges to express the reason of ‘minimizing the threat to face’, ‘being a way of being more precise in reporting results’ and being positive and negative strategies’.

In addition, these features are also associated with characteristics of function of hedges by Hyland (1996) in expressing proposition with greater precision and caution, avoiding personal responsibility and acknowledging the reader’s role in negotiating the status of claims. Therefore, from the point of view of function, the researchers of all selected RAs use both ‘content-motivated hedges’ and ‘reader- motivated hedges’. However, since modal auxiliary verbs conveying vagueness and politeness are used low frequently, it may be assumed that the Myanmar researchers a little follow reader-motivated hedges.

According to findings, it has been found that adjectival, adverbial and nominal modal phrases are third most commonly used hedges. Since some hedges of this strategic stereotype enhance the force of illocution in some ways whereas some offer a wide range of means for expressing degree of certainty. Hence, it seems likely that the researchers of all selected RAs use adjectival, adverbial and nominal modal phrases to express the reasons of ‘minimizing the threat to face’ and being a way of being more precise in reporting results’. Since the features concerning the reasons of ‘minimizing the threat to face’ and ‘being a way of being more precise on reporting results’ are related to that of content- motivated hedges, it seems reasonable to assume that the Myanmar researchers follow ‘content-motivated hedges’ in terms of adjectival, adverbial and nominal modal phrases.

Considering modal lexical verb, it may appear somewhat speculative that the researchers of all selected RAs sometimes feel doubtful about their propositions and sometimes evaluate them. In this research, there is a little use of introductory phrase, if clause and compound hedges. Introductory phrases open to potential interpretation as polite. In addition, according to Salager-Meyer (1994) and Martin Martin (2003), introductory phrases are recognized as signal of authorial doubt. In addition to introductory phrase proposed by Salager-Meyer (1997), the ones found in this research can avoid personal accountability for statements. Thus, introductory phrases can perform toning down the statements in order to reduce the risk of opposition, expressing a lack of certainty and mitigating the risk simultaneously. Accordingly, it may be assumed that Myanmar researchers use hedges expressing the reasons of ‘minimizing the threat to face’, ‘being a way of being more precise in reporting results’ and ‘being positive and negative strategies’ in their research articles. According to the features of function mentioned in the literature review section, the researchers of all selected RAs follow ‘content-motivated hedges’ and reader-motivated hedges. However, since there is a little use of introductory phrase, it seems likely that Myanmar researches follow reader-motivated hedges a little bit. Moreover, through the use of if clause, the researchers show politic behavior of a social situation and tentativeness at the same time. Therefore, it seems reasonable to assume that in terms of ‘if clause’, Myanmar researchers use hedges for the reasons of ‘minimizing the threat to face’, ‘being a way of being more precise in reporting results’, ‘being positive and negative strategies’ and ‘conforming the an established writing style’ simultaneously. Compound hedges are open to evaluation as ‘polite’ and the use of compound permit to report different interpretation and application as valid. Thus, by means of compound hedges, it may be assumed that the researchers negotiate and mitigate the risk. Hence, it seems likely that through the use of compound hedges, Myanmar researchers can express the reasons of ‘minimizing the threat to face’, ‘being a way of being more precise in reporting results’ and ‘being positive and negative strategies’. In addition, compound hedges state personal opinion rather than a definitive statement of truth, merely an alternative view awaiting verification and allowing the reader to choose the best explanation and permit to report different interpretation and application as valid. Accordingly, it may be assumed that by means of compound hedges, the researchers of all selected RAs follow ‘reader-motivated hedges. However, due to the little use of compound hedges, it can be said that Myanmar researchers follow ‘reader-motivated hedges’ a little bit.

Salager-Meyer (1997) argues that hedges can be not only a “cover-up” technique, but can reflect the author’s genuine effort to express his results with the greatest precision. Academic writer may wish to reduce the strength of their claims simply because stronger claim would not be justified by their experimental data. She said “ in such a cases, researcher not sayng less than what they mean but rather saying precisely what they mean but not overstating their experimental results. Accordingly, it seems reasonable that the Myanmar researchers use approximators most frequently. It seems likely that they only try to prevent making absolute statements or overstatements that subject their work to criticism or make the research simplistic.. It seems to the researchers that they want to protect themselves if they are not sure the proposition is correct. In addition, it seems likely that the researchers try to prevent misleading the audience when there is a lack of solid consistent research on a topic or there is disagreement in the field about that issue. As a result, it may appear somewhat speculative that through the use of approximators, the Myanmar researchers try to present their claims as fully, accurately and objectively as possible. Thus, they use more hedges expressing the reason of ‘being a way of being precise in reporting results’. Similarly, concerning function of hedges, they use more hedges functioning ‘content motivated hedges’ which involve either a concern with the need to present claims as accurately as possible or to anticipate what may be harmful to the writer.