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A multi-dimensional contrastive study of English abstracts by native and nonnative writers

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/2013
Issue number2
Number of pages26
Pages (from-to)209-234
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article takes the multidimensional analysis (MDA) approach to explore the textual variations between native and nonnative English abstracts on the basis of two matching balanced corpora composed of English abstracts written respectively by native English and native Chinese writers from twelve academic disciplines. A total of 47 out of 163 linguistic features are retained after factor analysis, which underlies a seven-dimension framework representing seven communicative functions. The results show that the two corpora as a whole have significant difference on five out of the seven dimensions. To be more specific, native English writers demonstrate a more active involvement and commitment in presenting their ideas than Chinese writers. They also use intensifying devices more frequently. In contrast, Chinese writers show stronger preferences for conceptual elaboration, passives and abstract noun phrases no matter whether the two types of data are examined as a whole or variations in disciplines are taken into account. The results are discussed in relation with the possible reasons and suggestions for English abstract writing in China. Methodologically, this study innovatively expands the MDA model by integrating colligation in addition to grammatical and semantic features.

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