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(linguistics) Words and phrases that signify uncertainty or tentativeness, used to soften the impact of utterances or to avert negative reactions. For instance, ‘perhaps’, ‘probably’, ‘possibly’, ‘maybe’, ‘seems’. It is often argued that women tend to use qualifiers more than men, and their use is seen as stereotypically feminine, although any such differences are dependent on context and mitigated by age (see also genderlect). Often used synonymously with hedges (see also hedging).

Subjects: Media Studies.

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