Cross-cultural differences in the construal of authorial voice in the genre of diploma theses

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978-3-0343-1211-0 (vyhledej v knihovnách)

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Academic discourse is now generally seen as a purposeful interaction between writers and readers in which the writers try to construct a coherent and credible representation of themselves and their research and to build up a relationship with their discourse community by creating a dialogic space for negotiation and evaluation of their views. The construal of authorial voice, i.e. the expression of attitudes, judgements and opinions of the wrier, has become a widely debated issue both in the works of discourse analysts scrutinising different genres of academic discourse (e.g. Swales 1990, 2004, Gosden 1993, Hyland 2001, 2002) and in more pedagogically oriented research which assesses the writing of native and non-native speakers and the designing of courses using the genre approach to teaching academic writing skills (e.g. Tang & John 1999, Charles 2006).
This paper investigates the construal of authorial voice in the genre of diploma theses in relation to the specific communicative purposes that the authors are trying to achieve. Taking a cross-cultural perspective, the study is carried out on a corpus of diploma theses in the field of linguistics written by Czech and German students of English. The main purpose of the investigation is to explore how novice writers use pronominal self-reference items and impersonal constructions to present findings and negotiate claims. The results of the quantitative and qualitative analyses show that despite a prominent tendency to create “a surface meaning of modesty” (Wales 1996) the writers generally manage to construct a coherent authorial voice. The author argues that novice writers’ choices cannot be explained only by a lack of expertise and a reluctance to commit themselves explicitly to their claims; they are also affected by the constraints imposed by the Master’s thesis as a genre, interference from the L1 academic-writing standard and instructions received in writing courses.


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