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The Use of Hedging Devices in Humanistic Buddhist Written Works



Edwina Bensal

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To Cite This Source:

Bensal, E. R. (2013). Attaining happiness and peace through the use of hedging devices. In 1st Buddhist Youth Forum: Happiness and Peace (203-227). Fo Guang Shan Publishing, Singapore.

Note: The attached pdf is an excerpt from the complete paper published in the 2013 BYF Symposium Papers and in this link


People put importance to communication regardless of cultural, political, intellectual or spiritual stance. They seek balance in life by developing their self-actualization and flourishing their social interaction. This mantra is embodied by a particular Buddhist philosophy – Humanistic Buddhism led by Venerable Master Hsing Yun (2011). He believes with the three acts of goodness, one of which, the use of right words to achieve happiness and peace. One language phenomenon that speaks of careful usage of words to produce harmonious relationship between and among people is hedging device. Hedging devices are words or phrases that allow writers/speakers to express their claims with caution, humility, and accuracy. The use of hedging device is an effective linguistic strategy in delivering balanced and well supported claims (leaving some rooms for their readers/listeners to judge). Hence, this paper focused on the three written works of Venerable Master Hsing Yun entitled “The Four Noble Truths: The Essence of Buddhism”, “A Glimpse of Chan through the Six Patriarch’s Platform Sutra”, and “The Essence of Chan” translated by Amy Lam and Susan Tidwell. Using these three booklets, this paper studied the hedging devices by enumerating the most frequently used hedging devices (e.g. can, if, will, may and more), presenting their functions, and detecting any trends or patterns present in the three stated works. The linguistic pattern may set as an angle to recount or analyze in Humanistic Buddhism’s written works.

Keywords: hedges, hedging devices, Buddhism, Humanistic Buddhism

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