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Title: The modal 'can' as a hedging device in Thai student writing
Author: Laopongharn , Warrin
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2012
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Hedges are considered as a category of interactional metadiscourse resources that writers use to minimize the impact of their arguments on readers, moderate their claims and reduce the force of their propositions. Hedges demonstrate that writers do not just express their ideas through statements but also use these communicative strategies to indicate their attitude towards both the propositions and their readers. The present study employs three integrated methodologies: confirmatory factor analysis (CF A), decision trees and corpus-based analysis. The first part of the study explores the most typical hedging devices that Thai undergraduate students use to withhold complete commitment to the propositions in their formative assignments. By examining an extensive system of these epistemic devices in this representative learner corpus, the study reveals that the modal can is the most common item used to mark likelihood or uncertainty stance. The second part of this study aims to investigate the underlying meaning of patterns of use of can with inanimate subjects. CFA was used to determine whether all fifteen observed variables measured one domain (i.e. meanings of can). The single-factor model (the hypothesized model) was compared with its nested model (a zero-factor model) by using the chi-square difference test. The result (l = 15) was 438.567,p-value < 0.01, which suggests that the one-factor model provides a significantly better fit than the zero-factor model. In the regression tree, the proportion of variance explained by the model is 0.992; that is, 99.2 per cent of the corpus data has been described in the tree, so this is a highly reliable model. The detailed qualitative findings show that these associated patterns are meant to convey the possibility meaning of the modal. The study concludes that the novice writers use these features effectively and persuasively, often attempting to make the best use of linguistic resources by employing either a double hedge (e.g. can and might) or can combined with other stance markers (e.g. thatclauses) within a statement in order to express their epistemic likelihood stance towards their propositions and readers with due caution and deference.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available