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Student: Kidirbayeva AynuraAdvisor: Ms Makhim


Vague language

"Both the speaker and addressee have a role to play in the creating of vagueness and dealing with its effects in language.

Vague language describes the use of linguistic items including grammar and particularly lexis to modify and make the meaning of a communication less precise and less clear. While scientific and much academic language prides itself on rigour, precision and clarity, vague language, or VL, as it is known, is a linguistic device used in politics, reporting and everyday conversation to avoid over-declaratory statements and assertions and to build or protect relationships.

What is vague language?

Vague language is very common, especially in speaking. We often add words and phrases such as about, kind of, sort of, and that kind of thing to make what we say less factual and direct:There were about twenty people at the meeting.It’s kind of cold in here.Did you eat plov and xanim and that kind of thing when you were in Uzbekistan?

Somewhat paradoxically, the term ‘vague language’ is itself a rather broad one, and there are different ways of defining it. It is often assumed that vagueness in language is something negative, or in other words ‘a deplorable deviation from precision and clarity’

Expressions such as stuff and whatever, whoever, whenever, whichever are sometimes used to be vague in an impolite way. These are especially impolite when they are used in a reply to a direct question asked by someone who is senior to us:[a father to his son] A: What did you do at school today? B: Stuff. (This is not a polite reply. It can mean ‘I don’t want to talk to you’.) [parent to teenage daughter] A: You spend too long on the phone. B: Whatever. (This is a very impolite response and means ‘I don’t care’.)

He left a sum in excess of $1 million when he died. [more than; used in more formal contexts]It’ll cost you somewhere in the region of £900 a month to rent a flat. [less formal = around/about £900]It’ll take five hours, give or take half an hour, to drive there. [could take 4.5 or 5.5 hours; informal]The second meeting is approximately two and a half months after the first one. [could be between 9 and 11 weeks.; rather formal]

You can also use vague language when talking about numbers. When talking about numbers or quantities, you can avoid unnecessary detail by using expressions like : approximately,give or take,in excess of ,lots of, loads of,a few, a couple, etc.

Numbers and quantities



The idea here is that precise language gives too much information or information that is not welcome or wanted by the addressee.



Everyone has been in a situation where they have been asked a direct question and have chosen to give a non-committal and vague answer simply because they wish to avoid the consequences of giving a full and accurate answer.

Studies of intercultural communication have revealed that people in all cultures use vague language from time to time, but there are some differences between linguistic and cultural groups.It seems that more research, ideally across different cultural groupings, will be needed to explore this issue of vague language usage by different cultural groups

05. In culture

It has been suggested in some studies that vagueness is more commonly used by women due to the stereotypical roles that men and women are expected to play in most human societies. Men are generally expected to be bold and definite, for example, while women are expected to be timid and vague in deference to the supposed superiority of the male.


(and/or) X stuff (like that/X)and so on (and so forth) et cetera (et cetera) (etc.

In addition to these studies of vague language use, mainly in informal spoken contexts, there has been recent interest in more formal situations and written texts.In addition to these studies of vague language use, mainly in informal spoken contexts, there has been recent interest in more formal situations and written texts.The examples show vague language is not only a feature of informal speech. It clearly has a role to play in formal contexts as well.

In politics

As such it is another example of vague language, frequently used in journalism.


Hedging’ according to Milanović and Milanović (2010) is a way of making a general statement to avoid commitment to one point of view and to show balance. By using words like : seems,possible,it could be,may and so on.

In media

Mastering the skill of the appropriate use of vague language is a fundamental prerequisite for peaceful and harmonious social interaction.

Above all, studying vague language as it is actually being used today, by politicians or diplomats, in news bulletins and in conversations with friends, colleagues and strangers, helps us to understand human psychology and the process of forming and maintaining group identity and coherence.


Thanks for your attention

Any question?