Powerless language

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This paper brings together two different approaches to the analysis of hedges. They are viewed in linguistics as procedural cues relating to the propositional or phrasal contents and their cognitive counterparts. In social psychology, they are interpreted at an interpersonal level as powerlessness markers attributing lack of control and power to the speaker. A comparison of these approaches resulted in the finding that some usages of hedges can be interpreted as unintended interpersonal implicatures weakening speaker traits and persuasive force. A further function is intentional and strategic as in political speech. A third usage is appropriate fuzziness caused by hedges, whereby the hedged expression exhibits accuracy higher than an explicit statement.


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