Traditionally, the world of academia has clearly prioritised precision: academics usually strive to base their arguments on precise numbers and solid evidence, and students are primarily taught to be precise in the expression of their ideas. However, vague language can serve a variety of positive purposes in educational settings. This work aims at disclosing how and to what extent non-specific references to quantities (approximators and quantifiers) are used in educational settings. On the basis of corpus data, it compares the use of vague language in British English and American English. Hence vague language is investigated with respect to discourse type and language variety and culture. The results show that the use of vague language is distinct in the two varieties in some important respects, such as frequency and certain linguistic patterns of some quantifiers and approximators.
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2007. XII, 240 pp., 4 fig., 59 tables
Contents: Vagueness from a philosophical perspective – Linguistic approaches to vague language – Discourse in educational
settings – British and American English – Discourse analysis – Corpora as a data source – Frequency, linguistic patterns and
functions of quantifiers and approximators in British and American English – Practical applications of the study.