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Getting over the hedge

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Abstract

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&#8217; language &#8211; 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&#8217; overuse of some hedges such as <i>nanka</i> &#8216;somehow.&#8217; Their hedges allow them to socially package their messages (i.e. provide a buffer zone to monitor and accommodate the interlocutor&#8217;s emotions and feelings) (Maynard 1989). One learner also used sentence-final <i>mitaina</i> &#8216;like,&#8217; also associated with young speakers.

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