I’m sure women use more hedges, I think : A study comparing male and female usage of hedges

University essay from Högskolan i Gävle/Avdelningen för humaniora

Abstract: This study reexamines Lakoff’s (1973) claim that women use more hedges than men is true. Because of the vast number of hedges, this study focuses on two hedges: I think and I’m sure. It also investigates how the included hedges are used by men and women to express belief and opinion. The study has been carried out with the help of a corpus called British National Corpus 2014 (BNC2014). From this database, authentic conversations that include these hedges in clause-final position have been extracted. By using the extracted and processed data, a conclusion can be drawn regarding similarities and differences in how often men and women use these hedges and in what context they are used. The results show that Lakoff’s (1973) claim has a certain truth to it, since 63.0% of the valid I think tokens and 67.6% of the valid I’m sure tokens were produced by women. As for the expression of belief or opinion, the results points towards I think and I’m sure upholding traditional gender traits.

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