International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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Volume 16 Issue 1 (March 2006), Pages 1-136

Epistemic modality markers in research articles: a cross‐linguistic and cross‐disciplinary study (pages 61-87)

Research on the use of hedging strategies in research articles has received increasing attention during the last few decades, but few have compared the use of hedges across languages and disciplines. This article explores the use of epistemic modality markers – an important and frequently used type of hedges – in research articles written in three different languages (English, French and Norwegian) and belonging to two different disciplines (linguistics and medicine). Gender differences are also examined. The material is compiled within the electronic corpus of the KIAP project (Cultural Identity in Academic Prose). Statistical analyses of the data (Kruskar‐Wallis and Mann‐Whitney tests) show that Norwegian‐ and English‐speaking researchers use significantly more of these hedges than their French‐speaking colleagues. Disciplinary affiliation and gender seem to have little influence on the proportion of epistemic modality markers in a text, but there are interesting differences between disciplines as regards the type of markers used. These findings may have implications for the teaching of academic writing as well as for cross‐cultural understanding between academics.

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