LINGUIST List 8.553

Mon Apr 21 1997

Sum: hedging expressions

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <seelylinguistlist.org>


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  1. Ann Jorid Klungervik, 'Sorry to interrupt you, but . . .'

Message 1: 'Sorry to interrupt you, but . . .'

Date: Mon, 21 Apr 1997 11:05:43 +0200
From: Ann Jorid Klungervik <ann.jorid.klungervikhf.ntnu.no>
Subject: 'Sorry to interrupt you, but . . .'

I would like to thank each and every one who contributed to the below
list of hedging expressions. Thank you also for useful comments on the
phenomenon of hedging, and for expressing interest in my project. It's
been so much fun going through the mail lately.

Hedging is a diverse phenomenon. English possesses an incredible
amount of different ways of doing face-work. In my query I tried to
specify what I was after (to the extent that I knew what I was
after!). I pointed out the the type of formulaic expression I was
looking for will precede a (more or less) explicit reference to a norm
(maxim, in the Gricean sense), e.g. 'I don't mean to be rude' ->
'Don't be rude.' Besides referring to such norms, these types of hedge
are characterized by expressing denial of intention (thanks to Clyde
Davenport, Japan, for this formulation) to infringe the norm referred
to, or even denial of the very fact that a norm is being infringed
(E.g. I'm not going to delay you, but . . .'). The below list
comprises the contributions that seem to be of this kind. (I also got
quite a few borderline cases, which have helped me develop my thoughts
on where to draw the lines and why. I have chosen not to include them
here, though).

The formulas themselves are outside the parentheses. Everything within
parentheses are variable or optional elements. Where no complete
utterances were given, only the formulas themselves, I have just put
an X within the parentheses as a placeholder. Otherwise, I have
included some of the contents of the utterances, to illustrate what
kinds of norms may be alluded to ('Don't be mean,' 'Don't criticize,'
etc.). I haven't yet seriously tried to draw the boundaries between
the different types yet, but I'm sure you can see how they fall rather
naturally into different categories:

I don't intend to (be mean, etc., but . . . )
I don't want to (bother you/intrude, etc., but . . . )
I'm not going to (delay you, etc., but . . . )

I don't know if this is (relevant/interesting/of interest, etc., but . . . )
This is not meant as (criticism of you, etc., but . . . )
This may/might (be-sound-look X, but . . . )
Maybe this is (crazy, etc., but . . . )
This is going to (sound strange/odd/stupid, etc., but . . . )
I may be (wrong/stepping on some toes here, etc., but . . . )
It may not (be my place to say, etc., but . . . )
You probably think this (is-sounds crazy, etc., but . . . )
You must think (X, but . . . )
You may/might think (I'm crazy, etc., but . . . )
I probably shouldn't (say this, etc,. but . . . )
I'm sure this (probably sounds-looks X, but . . . )
Excuse me for (being-acting X, but . . . )
(Please) excuse (the interruption, etc., but . . . )
Pardon me for (saying X, but . . . )
Forgive me for (asking, etc., but . . . )
Forgive me if this (seems impertinent, etc., but . . . )
Far be it from me to (disagree with you, etc., but . . . )
I wouldn't normally dream of (saying so, etc., but . . . )
It's unlike me to (say something like this, etc., but . . . )
I hope I'm not (X, but . . . )
I hope I didn't (X, but . . . )
I hope you don't think I'm (rude, etc., but . . . )
I hope this (doesn't come across as condescending or offensive/won't X,
etc., but . . . )
I hope you don't mind (my saying that X/my remarking on X, etc., but . . . )
I hope you'll excuse (my saying that X, etc., but . . . )
(I know) it's (probably not my place to say/none of my business, etc., but
. . . )
I know (that) this (is-looks rather X/has already been said, etc., but . . . )
I know I'm being (X, but . . . )
I know I shouldn't (X, but . . . )
I'm afraid you'll find this (rather X, but . . . )
I ain't (tellin' you your business or nothing, but . . . ) [Mississippi, USA]

Again - thank you so much. You have contributed greatly to my research.

Warm regards,
Ann J.

#####################################################

Ann Jorid Klungervik
Stipendiat NFR
NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Department of English
7055 Dragvoll
NORWAY
Tel.: +47 73 59 67 65
Fax.: +47 73 59 67 70
ann.jorid.klungervikhf.ntnu.no
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