What are hedges?
Hedges are devices used by
speakers to "explain"
utterances beforehand in
relation to the four maxims.
There is an accepted way of
speaking which we all accept as
standard behavior. When we
produce, or hear, an utterance,
we assume that it will generally
be true, have the right amount of
information, be relevant, and will
be couched in understandable
If an utterance does not appear to
conform to this model, then we do
not assume that the utterance is
nonsense; rather, we assume that
an appropriate meaning is there to
be inferred. In Grice’s terms, a
maxim has been flouted, and an
There are certain kinds of expressions
speakers use to mark that they may be
in danger of not fully adhering to the
principles, these kinds of expressions
are called “hedges”. For example we
may say: “I am not sure if this is right…”
or “As far as I know…” to show that we
respect the maxim of quality and many
of us may use this cliché expression”
So, to cut a long story short,…” to
emphasize that we observe the quality
maxim in communication process.
We can observe many of such phrases and sentences
in news stories also:
To sum up the story…
There are no more details about this
The official sources announced that…
No one takes the responsibility of this
It is heard that…(Quality maxim)
On this subject, we interview…(Relation
To clarify the news I talk to…(manner
You can also read about hedges in the
What is inference?
• An inference is a deduction
made by a listener based on his
knowledge about the world
• Example: Judy has borrowed
my Kortmann to study
• What is the inference?
• people can't be borrowed, but
books can - Kortmann must
refer to a book
What is presupposition?
• A presupposition is a logical requirement that
takes on a concrete linguistic shape.
• Mike's siblings are really nice
• Presupposition: Mike has siblings
• My car broke down this morning
• Presupposition: I have a car
• The door is no longer open
• Presupposition: the door was open before
• I like chocolate too!
• Presupposition: someone else likes
chocolate as well
To review the topic of the
maxims, watch the following
videos and identify the