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A syntactic analysis of the introductory it pattern in non-native-speaker and native-speaker student writing
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Accepted
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-305732OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-305732DiVA: diva2:1039044
Available from: 2016-10-20 Created: 2016-10-20 Last updated: 2016-10-21
In thesis
1. The introductory it pattern in academic writing by non-native-speaker students, native-speaker students and published writers: A corpus-based study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The introductory it pattern in academic writing by non-native-speaker students, native-speaker students and published writers: A corpus-based study
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present compilation thesis investigates the use of a pattern that is commonly found in academic writing, namely the introductory it pattern (e.g. it is interesting to note the difference). The main aim is to shed further light on the formal and functional characteristics of the pattern in academic writing. When relevant, the thesis also investigates functionally related constructions. The focus is on learner use, but reference corpora of published writing and non-native-speaker student writing have also been utilized for comparison. The thesis encompasses an introductory survey (a “kappa”) and four articles.

The material comes from six different corpora: ALEC, BATMAT, BAWE, LOCRA, MICUSP and VESPA. Factors such as native-speaker status, discipline, level of achievement (lower-graded vs. higher-graded texts) and level of expertise in academic writing are investigated in the articles. In more detail, Articles 1 and 2 examine the formal (syntactic) characteristics of the introductory it pattern. The pattern is studied using modified versions of two previous syntactic classifications. Articles 3 and 4 investigate the functional characteristics of the pattern. In Article 3, a functional classification is developed and used to categorize the instances. Article 4 examines the stance-marking function of the pattern in relation to functionally related constructions (e.g. stance adverbs such as possibly and stance noun + prepositional phrase combinations like the possibility of).

The introductory it pattern was found to be relatively invariable in the sense that a small set of formal and functional realizations made up the bulk of the tokens. The learners, especially those whose texts received a lower grade, made particularly frequent use of high-frequency realizations of the pattern. The thesis highlights the importance of not limiting investigations of this kind to comparisons across native-speaker status, as this is only one of the several factors that can influence the distribution. By exploring the potential importance of many different factors from both a formal and a functional perspective, the thesis paints a more complete picture of the introductory it pattern in academic writing, of use in, for instance, second-language instruction.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of English, Uppsala University, 2016. 85 p.
The introductory it pattern, stance markers, non-native-speaker students, native-speaker students, published expert writing, learner language, corpus linguistics
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Specific Languages
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-305735 (URN)978-91-506-2606-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-12-17, Ihresalen, Thunbergsvägen 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2016-11-25 Created: 2016-10-20 Last updated: 2016-11-25

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