Spotting and Revising Wordy Hedging
Hedging – is a strategy in which you state conditions, qualifications, exceptions to an assertion -- an admission that something might contradict your assertion Examples:
1. Legitimate hedging: If it rains tomorrow, I won't paint the front door. (The if clause establishes a condition: rain)
2. Legitimate hedging: In the middle ages, the world was thought to be flat. (This sets up a condition based on time, history. )
3. Legitimate hedging: The rapid melting of ice at the North Pole may be a result of global warming. (Doubt is indicated by may—but only a small amount of doubt. Phrases like may, probably, in all likelihood suggest some degree of truthfulness, substantially more toward the truth than toward falsehood. )
4. Legitimate hedging: American consumers usually run into financial problems because they misuse credit cards. (Here, hedging involves limiting the occurrence of a phenomenon. Words like usually, often, in most cases, rarely, frequently, infrequently are examples of this sort of hedging. )
5. Legitimate hedging: In the context of technical communication, digits for criical values below 10 is standard. (The word context narrows the relevance of this statement to just one sphere of the professional world. )
***But let's look at some seriously neurotic hedging:
1. Problematic hedging: There seems to be some evidence to suggest that certain differences between Israeli and Arabic world views may be part of the problem, to some extent.
(Have you ever seen anything so paranoid? Notice that words that refuse to commit: seems, some evidence, suggest, certain, may be, part of, to some extent. There is nothing wrong with avoiding an absolute, dogmatic assertion—but this is ridiculous! )
Revision: Differences between Israeli and Arabic world views may be part of the problem
2. Problematic hedging: Our research seems to suggest that there may be a causal connection between...
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