Hedges and Boosters in US College Application Essays A Corpus-Based Comparative Study between the US Middle and the US top College Application Essays

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Chonlagarn Incharoensak
Chanika Gampper


The present study examines the use of hedges and boosters in college application essays written by Thai students who were accepted into the US middle colleges and international students who were accepted into The US top colleges. The hedges and boosters that express epistemic modality are the main focus as writers’ attitudes are critical in college application essays. Concordancing was used to search for epistemic hedges and boosters which were analyzed according to Hyland’s taxonomy of forms and functions. More tentative expression was used than confident prediction in the US middle college application essays, as hedges were employed more frequently in the US middle than in the US top college application essays. Epistemic hedges in college application essays were found to express probability or display writers’ uncertainty, while epistemic boosters were employed as a certainty marker. Certain forms and functions as well as grammatical environments of hedges and boosters determined whether they convey epistemic modality.


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