Speech-like Pragmatic Markers in Argumentative Essays Written by Iranian EFL Students and Native English Speaking Students

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

English Department, Najafabad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Najafabad, Iran

Abstract

In this study, the use of speech-like pragmatic markers in Iranian EFL students’ academic writing was investigated. Speech-like pragmatic markers, such as I think, well, I guess, actually, anyway, anyhow, etc. are linguistic components that are more specific to conversation than writing, and writers may wrongly include them in their academic writing. To examine the students’ use of speech-like pragmatic markers when writing an essay, samples of Iranian students’ and English native students’ argumentative essays were analyzed using Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis (CIA). Moreover, the overuse or underuse of such items was compared between English native students and Iranian EFL students. Native English data were collected from the Louvain Corpus of Native English Essays (LOCNESS) and non-native English data were gathered from Iranian students’ essays during an academic semester from Islamic Azad University of Najafabad, Islamic Azad University of Abadan and Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz in Iran. Iranian participants were 71 EFL upper-intermediate (based on the Oxford Placement Test) graduate students that were selected randomly from male and female students. A frequency analysis of pragmatic markers indicates significant differences between Iranian students’ and English native students’ use of speech-like pragmatic markers. Quantitative analyses of the non-native corpus data revealed that students apply these spoken components in their argumentative essays, which may adversely affect their text in terms of a correct style and tone. By investigating the results, the language teachers and materials writers are recommended to recognize the features of Iranian English students’ interlanguage and to provide them with planned input about appropriate use of pragmatic markers.

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