Getting over the hedge
This chapter first discusses an expanded construct of language proficiency, to highlight interpersonal/social dimensions of language, in my work on language learning abroad. I then report on an interpersonally significant but often neglected aspect of learners’ language – hedges. It was found that, after study abroad, learners used a wider variety of hedges and did so more frequently. Two participants whose speech segments were highly rated for sociability appeared keen to emulate young L1 Japanese speakers’ overuse of some hedges such as <i>nanka</i> ‘somehow.’ Their hedges allow them to socially package their messages (i.e. provide a buffer zone to monitor and accommodate the interlocutor’s emotions and feelings) (Maynard 1989). One learner also used sentence-final <i>mitaina</i> ‘like,’ also associated with young speakers.