A Corpus-based Study of Metadiscoursal Boosters in Applied Linguistic Theses and Dissertations Written in Thailand and in the United States



Year of publication 2017
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description It has been suggested that there is an influence of cultural contexts of writing, based on different academic settings, on student writers’ uses of metadiscoursal resources principally showing authorial stance (see Lee & Casal, 2014). Nevertheless, very few studies have sought to empirically validate this statement. Boosters, another so-called term “Emphatics”, are markers of certainty and of authorial commitment; they are one of the important metadiscoursal devices used to indicate the authorial stance. Yet, they are evidently found underresearched. This preliminary study investigates cross-cultural variation of metadiscoursal boosters in the Applied Linguistics dissertations written in Thailand and in the U.S. The analysis is based on a corpus of the randomly-selected 40 doctoral dissertations, 20 from each of the Thai and American corpora. Using Hyland's (2005) interactional model of metadiscourse, the overall rhetorical and different categorical-based distribution of boosters were calculated across the different chapters of dissertations. The comparative analysis of different chapters of doctoral dissertations writing in Thailand and in the U.S. reveals significant cross-cultural differences underpinning different academic cultures, overall frequency of metadiscoursal boosters across not only chapters but also sub-grammatical categories of boosters. The analysis of 40 dissertations from universities in two different countries reveals that there are significant discrepancies in terms of distribution and usage patterns of metadiscoursal boosters across the corpora e.g. dissertations by Thai student writers displayed more substantial use of metadiscoursal boosters while a more limited range of structural patterns where boosters were utilized was evident in their writings; boosters were found to occur most frequently in Results, Literature Review and Discussion chapters, respectively; and the most frequently used categories of metadiscoursal boosters found in the three chapters were verbs, adverbs and adjectives, correspondingly. The analysis accordingly suggests that authorial identity in the form of assertions in students’ writing is inevitably linked to the specific cultural and academic contexts in which the writing is produced and targeted by its intended readers, truly even within the same discipline. An explanation for the rhetorical differences found has been attempted by taking part-genres, different discourse communities, and writing practice into account. The paper has concluded some implications for the teaching of academic writing particularly for EFL learners.
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