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Interpersonal themes and author stance in student writing Signe Oksefjell Ebeling (University of Oslo) ICAME 30, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Interpersonal themes and author stance in student writing Signe Oksefjell Ebeling (University of Oslo) ICAME 30, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Interpersonal themes and author stance in student writing Signe Oksefjell Ebeling (University of Oslo) ICAME 30, 2009

2 2 > The British Academic Written English Corpus (BAWE)  ESRC-funded project (2004-2007): An investigation of genres of assessed writing in British Higher Education  Collaboration between Oxford Brookes, Reading and Warwick Universities  2,761 assignments (approx. 6.5 million words)  Undergraduate and Masters level – all marked >60% / 2:1  35 disciplines -- four disciplinary groupings:  Arts & Humanities  Medical & Life Sciences  Physical Sciences  Social Sciences

3 3 > Background The literacy practices of a disciplinary community embody different orientations to knowledge constructions […] The initial constituent of the clause appears to have particular significance in the way it reflects the writer's beliefs and values, and thus provides an indicator of disciplinary difference in professional academic writing. (North 2005: 435) The way in which authors "intrude to stamp their personal authority onto their arguments or step back and disguise their involvement" (Hyland 2005: 176).

4 4 > Analytical framework T-unit:"an independent clause together with all hypotactically related clauses which are dependent on it" (Fries 1994: 229) Topical theme:typically fills a participant role within the clause and is most commonly found to be the grammatical subject (or the subject of the main proposition) Orienting theme:the elements preceding the topical theme  Textual – makes "explicit the way the clause relates to the surrounding discourse" (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 83)  Experiential – may contain fronted hypotactic clauses and “experiential elements which do not fill participant roles (mainly circumstantial adjuncts)" (North 2005: 438)  Interpersonal – typically expresses the speaker's "own angle on the matter in hand" (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 84), and is thus most likely to contain elements expressing stance.

5 5 > Orienting themeTopical theme Rheme TextualExperientialInterpersonal He argues thatsomewere never delivered … andin order for practice to be changed accordingly it is important thatthe resultsare trustworthy.

6 6 > Interpersonal themes 1) Modal adjunct Clearly force is essential to the complete turn around of rebellious individuals in 1984, (BAWE3003c) 2) Interrogative / inversion Does this leave the individual with any hope? (BAWE3003c) 3) Imperative Consider the use of plastic gears for one stage of speed reduction. (BAWE0023e) 4) Personal projecting clause In both novels, Orwell suggests that every system of power will inevitably abuse the use of language as mechanisms of control, (BAWE3007a) 5) Non-personal projecting clause It is possible that this is more than a criticism of the Bible itself but of the “canonizing process”, which Ostriker also argues has “throughout history rested, not accidentally but essentially, in the silencing of women.” (BAWE3006k)

7 7 > Previous study (Ebeling & Wickens 2006)  Previous study of thematic choices and stance in undergraduate writing  48 assignments from four disciplines: English studies (AH), Engineering (PS), Health and social care (MLS), and Anthropology (SS) – (approx. 5,500 t-units)  Revealed disciplinary differences in the expression of stance, particularly in terms of interpersonal projection

8 8 > Discipline Interpersonal theme English Studies AnthropologyEngineeringHealth & social care pers. proj. clause non-pers. proj. clause modal adjunct interr./ inversion imperative 3.2 3.5 2.9 0.4 8.2 6.5 2.9 0.7 0.1 0.3 5.3 0.3 0.5 3.4 12.1 9.7 0.5 0.2 Total1018.49.822.5 Original study Table 1 Distribution of interpersonal themes in the four disciplines per 100 t-units

9 9 > This study  Expands the empirical base in two disciplinary groupings:  Arts & Humanities (History, 12 assignments)  Social Sciences (Business, 12 assignments)  Investigates further the discrepancy found between these two broad disciplinary groupings (as represented in the original study by English studies and Anthropology)  Main focus on interpersonal projecting clauses in 48 assignments from AH and SS Does the difference in use of interpersonal themes in the expression of stance represent a more general tendency of broader disciplinary groupings rather than variation between individual disciplines?

10 10 > Arts & HumanitiesSocial Sciences Discipline Interpersonal theme English Studies HistoryAnthropologyBusiness pers. proj. clause non-pers. proj. clause modal adjunct interr./ inversion imperative 3.2 3.5 2.9 0.4 2.8 6.4 1.7 2.0 0.2 8.2 6.5 2.9 0.7 0.1 1.9 8.8 0.8 1.0 0.4 Total1013.118.412.9 Table 2 Distribution of interpersonal themes in A&H vs. SS per 100 t-units

11 11 > projection personal non- personal non-self self non-self self Muir (2004) states that Researchers have shown that I propose that I think external internal These actions suggest Figure 2 shows that It is clear that There appears to be Figure 1 Projection framework (based on Hunston (1993), Wickens (2001))

12 12 > Table 3 Distribution of pers. projecting clauses in A&H vs. SS per 100 t-units Arts & HumanitiesSocial Sciences English Studies HistoryAnthropologyBusiness Non-self2.72.47.71.5 Self0.50.3 0.4 other0.10.2 Total3.22.88.21.9 Personal Merrigi and Lovari state that shepherds originally tolerated the wolf, … (BAWE – Anthr. 3001h)

13 13 > Table 4 Distribution of non-pers. projecting clauses in A&H vs. SS per 100 t-units Arts & HumanitiesSocial Sciences English Studies HistoryAnthropologyBusiness Non-self2.32.63.26.8 Self1.23.83.22.0 other0.1 Total3.56.46.58.8 Non-personal … this implies that a company drawn abroad by market opportunities is often exposed to new technologies … (BAWE – Business 0253f)

14 14 > Anthropology  Draws first and foremost on the people/ authors/authorities as point of departure (personal/non-self)  Lack of explicit self (personal/self). Example of ‘pattern’ or clusters of interpersonal theme (projection): Personal Non-Self: arguments in the literature Interpersonal projectionTopicalRheme Concurrently, Katherine Milton (1999) suggests that, ‘using meat to supply essential amino-acids and many required micronutrients frees-space in the gut for (high energy i.e. USO) plant foods (p11). In reply, proponents of the USO’s hypothesis and especially Richard Wrangham, argue that if cooked, tuberscould fulfil all the dietary requirements.

15 15 > Business  Non-personal/non-self strategy, without explicitly attributing beliefs to people/authors.  Lack of self (non-personal as well as personal). Example of ‘pattern’ or clusters of interpersonal theme (projection): Non- personal/non-self: arguments outside literature, external and internal to text. Interpersonal projectionTopicalRheme The model which is based on one company's (IBM) data reflects that its findingsare limited to the views of IBM employees. This suggests thatthis modelinclude[s] to a certain extent some degree of western bias …

16 16 > Answer to RQ of whether the use of interpersonal themes in the expression of stance represents a more general tendency of broader disciplinary groupings rather than variation between individual disciplines? No, at least the use of projecting clauses to express stance seems to be tied to individual disciplines rather than to broader disciplinary groupings. This is particularly evident in the disciplines representing the Social Sciences. [The A&H disciplines investigated here are more similar in this respect than their SS counterparts.]

17 17 > Findings show and support the view that … … although stance may be "one of the most challenging tasks that faces the apprentice writer" (Charles 2006: 514), writers with different disciplinary backgrounds attempt to highlight their own views and attitudes in accordance with the practices of the discipline they feel part of (Charles 2006; North 2003, 2005).

18 18 > References Charles, M. 2006. The construction of stance in reporting clauses: A cross-disciplinary study of theses. Applied Linguistics 27/3: 492-518. Ebeling, S. O. and P. Wickens. 2006. Author stance in theme position: variation across disciplines and years in a corpus of assessed student writing. Paper presented at the BAAHE Conference, Leuven University, Belgium. Fries, P. H. 1994. On theme, rheme and discourse doals. In Coulthard, M. (ed.) Advances in Written Text Analysis. London/ New york: Routledge. Halliday, M.A.K. and C.M.I.M. Matthiessen. 2004. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. 3rd edition. London: Hodder Arnold. Hunston, S. 1993. Projecting a sub-culture: The construction of shared worlds by projecting clauses in two registers. In Graddol, D., L. Thompson, and M. Byram (eds.) Language and Culture. Clevedon: BAAL and Multilingual Matters. 98-112. Hyland, K. 2005. Stance and engagement: a model of interaction in academic discourse. Discourse Studies 7/2: 173-192 North, S. 2003. Emergent Disciplinarity in an Interdisciplinary Course: Theme Use in Undergraduate Essays in the History of Science. PhD Dissertation. The Open University. North, S. 2005. Disciplinary variation in the use of theme in undergraduate essays. Applied Linguistics 26/3. 431-452. Wickens, P. 2001. Computer Based Learning and Changing Legal Pedagogic Orders of Discourse in UK Higher Education: A Comparative Critical Discourse Analysis of the TLTP materials for Law”. PhD Dissertation, University of Warwick.

19 19 > The BAWE corpus  The British Academic Written English corpus http://www.coventry.ac.uk/researchnet/d/505 http://www.coventry.ac.uk/researchnet/d/505 BAWE was developed at the Universities of Warwick, Reading and Oxford Brookes under the directorship of Hilary Nesi and Sheena Gardner (formerly of the Centre for Applied Linguistics [previously called CELTE], Warwick), Paul Thompson (Department of Applied Linguistics, Reading) and Paul Wickens (Westminster Institute of Education, Oxford Brookes), with funding from the ESRC (RES-000-23-0800).  Corpus files available from the Oxford Text Archive http://ota.ahds.ac.uk/ http://ota.ahds.ac.uk/  Online versions of the corpus available through:  Coventry University (http://www.coventry.ac.uk/bawe)http://www.coventry.ac.uk/bawe  Sketch Engine (http://www.sketchengine.co.uk/)http://www.sketchengine.co.uk/


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