American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
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American Journal of Educational Research. 2014, 2(12), 1230-1236
DOI: 10.12691/education-2-12-16
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A Corpus-Based Study on Epistemic Adjectives in Academic English

Reyhan Ağçam1,

1School of Foreign Languages, Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam University, Kahramanmaraş, Turkey

Pub. Date: December 21, 2014

Cite this paper:
Reyhan Ağçam. A Corpus-Based Study on Epistemic Adjectives in Academic English. American Journal of Educational Research. 2014; 2(12):1230-1236. doi: 10.12691/education-2-12-16


‘Stance is the way academics annotate their texts to comment on the possible accuracy or creditability of a claim, the extent they want to commit themselves to it, or the attitude they want to convey to an entity, a proposition or the reader’ (Hyland, 2005). Recent studies have revealed that researchers, particularly those who study soft sciences, tend to adopt a certain stance while reporting on their research even though they are supposed to use an objective voice in their academic writing. The present study aims to investigate epistemic adjectives used in conveying author stance in Academic English through a corpus-based approach. It reports the results of the Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis (Granger, 1996) administered to a total number of 136 doctoral dissertations written by native and non-native academic authors of English. Frequencies of the epistemic adjectives were separately calculated for each corpus and a log-likelihood test was utilized to see whether native and non-native academic authors of English significantly differ with regard to these items. Findings of the study have shown that certainty adjectives were mostly used by non-native academic authors of English whilst likelihood adjectives were mostly employed by native academic authors of English, which leads us to the conclusion that the non-native groups are inclined to use cautious expressions less frequently than the native groups in their academic writing. The study concludes with possible reasons for this particular result, implications of the results to academic writing and a few suggestions for further research.

academic writing contrastive interlanguage analysis epistemic adjective stance

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