The expression of stance in English L1 and L2 student writing : A corpus-based study of adverbial stance marking

University essay from Högskolan Dalarna/Engelska

Abstract: The increasing interest in how stance is expressed specifically in academic writing in English has generated extensive research in the past decades. Focusing on the grammatical marking of stance, this comparative study investigates the use of stance adverbials by native (L1) and nonnative (L2) speakers of English in a corpus of student academic writing. The aim is to examine the most distinctive differences and similarities in the use of adverbial stance markers by each student group. The material comes from the British Academic Writing in English (BAWE) corpus, a collection of proficient writing by English L1 and L2 students from different firstlanguage backgrounds. Using quantitative methods and a semantically-based classification, the forms and types of stance adverbials most frequently used by the two student groups are identified and compared. The findings indicate that L1 students employ more adverbial stance markers overall, which contradicts results from previous research, but that both L1 and L2 students make use predominantly of a limited number of stance adverbials. The analysis of the most frequently used adverbials indicates underuse (e.g. perhaps) and overuse (e.g. kind of, mainly ) of specific markers on the part of the L2 group. The results partially invalidate the hypothesis tested that L2 students both rely on a narrower range of stance adverbials and employ them more frequently than L1 students.

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