“So and so” says, states and argues: A corpus-assisted engagement analysis of reporting verbs

Published on Jun 1, 2019in Journal of Second Language Writing4.20
· DOI :10.1016/j.jslw.2019.02.001
Cassi L. Liardét4
Estimated H-index: 4
(Macquarie University),
Sharyn Black1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UNSW: University of New South Wales)
Abstract A key feature of academic texts is the heteroglossic interaction that occurs between the writer and the experts he/she references. When integrating outside experts into their texts, writers often employ integral, author prominent reporting structures, selecting reporting verbs (RVs) to evaluate the veracity and merit of the propositions. This paper examines EAL and English L1 learners’ RV use and compares it with that of experts, providing a corpus-assisted, comparative analysis. It further explores how writers build intertextuality through these RV choices. Using the resources of Appraisal theory, and specifically, the Engagement system, we found that experts tend to favor dialogically contracting RVs (e.g., show and find ) that endorse the proposition whereas learners rely heavily on expanding RVs that entertain the evidence as an option to consider (e.g., suggest ) or simply attribute it to an outside expert (e.g., state ). In particular, both the EAL and English L1 learners strongly rely upon more “neutral” attribute: acknowledge structures (e.g., state , according to ), providing no overt indication as to their intersubjective stance on the evidence. These comparative findings provide a roadmap for novice writers to develop authorial stance and adapt to the expert conventions of their given fields.
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