Metadiscursive Constructions in Linguistics Essays by Italian EFL vs. L1 English University Students


  • Donatella Malavasi



metadiscourse, metadiscursive bundles, academic writing, essays, corpus analysis


In the field of academic discourse analysis close attention has been paid to the study of metadiscourse and to the analysis of recurrent sequences of words, variously called phraseology, lexical bundles or formulaic language. In particular, multi-word units have been comparatively explored in writing by both native vs. non-native speakers of English, and novice vs. expert authors. Although the native/non-native divide has been questioned in favour of novice vs. expert distinction and expertise as more important aspects affecting language patterning, extensive research has considered academic writing by native English speakers vs. English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners. Based on the assumption that native student writers and English learners have different levels of literacy in English and do not face the same difficulties in utilising formulaic language, the present study sets out to investigate the metadiscursive constructions most frequently used in academic writing by Italian EFL vs. L1 English students. The non-native material consists of theoretical and empirical essays in English Linguistics and Translation written by third-year students graduating in Foreign Languages at an Italian University. With regard to the native-speaker material for comparison, part of the British Academic Written English (BAWE) corpus was utilised, and essays written by L1 English students of linguistics were selected. With the support of corpus linguistic tools, recurrent metadiscursive bundles were identified in the two databases and examined both quantitatively and qualitatively. The analysis points to and discusses aspects of convergence and divergence between Italian EFL and L1 English student essays in the use of metadiscursive constructions.


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