Hedges and intensifiers used by the former financial secretary in Hong Kong

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Hedges and intensifiers used by the former financial secretary in Hong Kong

 

Author: Leung, Chi Kong David
Title: Hedges and intensifiers used by the former financial secretary in Hong Kong
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2014
Subject: English language -- Discourse analysis.
Public speaking.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of English
Pages: xvii, 431 pages : illustrations ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2798168
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/7885
Abstract: This study examines the types, frequencies and functions of hedges and intensifiers used by a Hong Kong former Financial Secretary (FS) in all his public speeches from 2003-2007. Hedges are defined as expressions of uncertainty, possibility, tentativeness, or approximation. The use of hedges is to mitigate a speaker’s utterances to show his/her non-committal or self-protective attitude, or to show solidarity between interlocutors. They denote a lower degree from the assumed norm of a scale continuum. Intensifiers are devices for adding force or commitment to a proposition with confidence or making a strong claim. They denote an upper degree from the assumed norm of a scale continuum. The use of hedges and intensifiers in academic writing has been examined to some extent, but not in spoken discourse such as the speeches of a senior government official. This study aims on analyse all the lexical and syntactic hedges and intensifiers used by the FS in his speeches. In addition, semantic preference, one of the five categories of a co-selection (Sinclair, 1996, 2004a), is used to identify the discussion topics in the speeches where the FS uses hedges or intensifiers. Obtaining the answers from the analysis can help financial practitioners to have a better understanding of the different types of hedge and intensifier and the discussion topics they can apply when giving a speech, which has a similar nature to the speeches given by the FS. To this end, the data are comprised of 85 speeches, and the speeches are grouped, by communicative purposes, into ordinary (CORDS), business (CBUSS), and budget speeches (CBUDS). All the data were subjected to quantitative and qualitative analysis and the following major findings are the result.
The findings indicate that hedging occurs quite frequently in the FS’s speeches, but the distribution is uneven. The same is the case for intensifiers. CBUDS has the highest frequency of hedges followed by CBUSS and CORDS. The results of the analysis of intensifiers show that CORDS has the highest frequency. The frequencies are lower in CBUSS and CBUDS. The findings therefore indicate that the types, frequency of hedges and intensifiers are dependent on the communicative purposes of of the speech events. The analysis of semantic preferences indicates that hedges are typically used when the topics are related to such as expressing gratitude at the end of of the speeches, predictions of financial data, and the possibility of the introduction of of policies and measures. Intensifiers are frequently used when the discussions are related to such as expressing gratitude at inaugurating the events, highlighting the favorable developments of some business activities, expressing high degree of economic or financial contribution of certain industries and upholding governing principles. This thesis contributes to the study of hedges and intensifiers in spoken discourse, particularly in speeches given by senior institutional professionals. The findings can raise the general awareness of the crucial roles of hedges and intensifiers to modify the force of the utterances in a speech and their contexts of use.

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