A Corpus-Based Study of Evaluative That-Clause in Abstracts of Chinese Learners' Doctoral Dissertations

A Corpus-Based Study of Evaluative That-Clause in Abstracts of Chinese Learners' Doctoral Dissertations

Baocui Lou (Faculty of International Studies, Henan Normal University, Xinxiang, Henan, China)
DOI: 10.4018/ijcallt.2014070105
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Abstract

Evaluative language is one of the key features in academic discourse, which might cause difficulties for L2 writers. Based on a corpus of 150 English abstracts of Chinese doctoral dissertations in five disciplines, this paper studies the frequency, form and distribution of the evaluative that-clause, and compares the results with those in previous studies. The results show that Chinese learners use this structure significantly less frequently than experienced writers, which might be caused by learners' misunderstanding of the compositional feature of abstracts and lack of consciousness of the evaluative feature of abstracts. It is also demonstrated that verb-predicates occur most frequently in Chinese learners' abstracts among the three frequent word classes which introduce the proposition, that the stance feature expressed is mainly to confirm the findings and credit the study, and that the evaluated entity is mostly concerned with the writer's own research. We also design the feasible teaching procedures for pedagogical purposes.
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Abstracts As A Genre In Academic Writing

Academic writing is always considered to be purely objective, impersonal and informational, designed to disguise the author and deal directly with facts. This objectivity in academic writing, however, has been challenged by researchers (Biber, 2006; Charles, 2006; Hunston, 1994, 2004; Hyland, 2000 & 2002; Hyland and Tse, 2004), because academic writing is obviously persuasive in presenting its propositional information. The arguments in academic discourse are rarely made without interpretive statements and assessments of their likely probability. These assessments necessarily involve personal or subjective judgments in order to make the discourse persuasive, which is typically proved in research abstracts.

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