'You'd be safer now to just go away and leave me alone.' Hedging in Irish Traveller and Settled Family Discourse.

Brian Clancy

Mary Immaculate College/University of Limerick, Ireland (Republic of)


The data for this study comprises two mini corpora representing spoken language in the intimate genre collected in the home/family environment: one from a middle class Irish family and one from a family belonging to the Irish Travelling community, an ethnic minority group accounting for less than 1% of the Irish population (often referred to as gypsies outside of Ireland). This paper will examine politeness from a sociolinguistic perspective through an analysis of hedging. It will be shown that some hedges, for example, I think and just, occur considerably less frequently in Traveller family data than in settled family data, whereas others such as kind of/sort of occur with comparable frequencies in both datasets. As this paper proposes to examine the use of hedges across two different subgroups within one culture, linguistic variation is thereby interpreted at a micro level, however it will be posited that politeness strategies like hedging also have important implications for the Travelling community at a macro level in terms of social capital when Travellers come into contact with mainstream ‘settled’ society.

Session: Paper session
Discourse 5 (Bi-/Multilingualism; Ethnicity)
Friday, April 4, 2008, 15:45-17:15
room: 11