Chinese Indirection and Thematic Progression in Chinese ESL Writing

Lorrita Ngor To Yeung

Abstract


This study investigates how problems of thematic progression in Chinese ESL writing are attributable to differences in thematic development in Chinese and English.  Articles written by thirty English expert writers and thirty Chinese expert writers as well as essays written by thirty advanced ESL learners were closely analyzed.  Textual evidence shows that thematic development is quite often differently executed in Chinese and English. Comparative textual analysis and editing according to English conventions also indicate that Chinese ESL learners have their own ways of thematizing discourse, putting emphasis and using connectives in ways unexpected by English native speakers. These features, often found disrupting the flow of Chinese ESL texts, can be traced to conventions of topicalization in Chinese, which may in turn be accounted for by cognitive and cultural reasons, rather than just developmental factors.  Peculiarities in Chinese ESL thematization may well contribute to the impression of indirection and opacity of their writing.


Keywords


thematic progression, ESL writing, problems of fluency, L1 influence, differences in thematic development in English and Chinese

Full Text:

PDF

References


Allison, D. & Ip K. S. (1991). Misreading viewpoints: Reading problems among ESL university students in Hong Kong. Hongkong Papers in Linguistics and Language Teaching 14 (1991). p.33-46.

Barton, E. L. (1995). Contrastive and non-contrastive connectives: Metadiscourse functions in argumentation. Written Communication, Vol. 12 No.2, April, 1995 p.219-239.

Bruce, N. J. & J. A. Lewkowicz (1991). Thematic and topic development in academic writing. In Verner Bickley (Ed) Where From Here? Issues Relating to the Planning, Managing, and Implementing of Language Teaching and Training Programmes in the 90s. p.363-377. Hong Kong: Institute of Language in Education.

Chao, Y.R. (1965). A Grammar of Spoken Chinese. London: Cambridge University Press.

Danes, F. (1974). Functional sentence perspectives and organization of the text. In Danes, F (ed) Papers on Functional Sentence Perspectives. Czechoslovakia: Academia.

Field, Y. (1993). Piling on the additives: the Hong Kong connection. In Pemberton, R. and Tsang, E (eds) Studies in Lexis. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, P.247-267.

Fries, P.H. (1995). Using thematic organization fro evaluating school children’s written narratives. In Nunan D, (ed) Language Awareness in Language Education. Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong.

Fries, P. H (1994). On theme, rheme and discourse goals. In Malcolm Coulthard (Ed) Advances in Written Text Analysis. P. 229-249. London: Routledge.

Green, C. (1991). Typological transfer, discourse accent and the Chinese writer of English. Hongkong Papers in Linguistics and Language Teaching 14 (1991). p. 51-63.

Green, C. (1996). The origins and effects of topic prominence in Chinese English interlanguage. IRAL VolXXXIV/2, May, 1996 p.191-134.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1994). An Introduction to Functional Grammar (2nd Edition). London: Edward Arnold.

Hinds, J. (1987). Reader versus writer responsibility: A new typology. In U. Connor & R. B. Kaplan (Eds.), Writing across languages: Analysis of L2 text, pp. 141–152. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Jacobs, S. (1990). Building hierarchy: Learning the language of the science domain, ages 10-13. In Ulla Connor & Ann M. Johns (Eds) Coherence in Writing: Research and Pedagogical Perspectives. P. 153-168. Alexandria: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Inc.

Johns, A. M. (1984). Textual cohesion and the Chinese speaker of English. Language Learning and Communication, 3(1), p.1-92.

Kaplan, R. B. (1966). Cultural thought patterns in inter‐cultural education. Language learning, 16(1‐2), 1-20.

Kaplan, R. B. (1972). The anatomy of rhetoric prolegomena to a functional theory of rhetoric. Philadelphia Centre for Curriculum Development (Concord, Massachusetts: Heinle and Heinle)

Mauranen, A. (1996). Discourse competence—Evidence from thematic development in native and non-native texts. In Eja Ventola & Anna Mauranen (Eds) Academic Writing: Intercultural and Textual Issues. P. 195-230. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Milton, J. & E. S. Tsang (1993). A corpus-based study of logical connectors in EFL students’ writing: Directions for future research. In Pemberton, R. and Tsang, E (Eds) Studies in Lexis. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. P.215-246.

Ren, S. (1994). Culture, discourse and choice of structure. In Georgetown University Round Table on Language and Linguistics 1994. P.50-172.

Sharp, A. (2003). Reading in a Foreign Language: The effects of text organization. Asia Pacific Journal of Language in Education. P.1-17.

Shen, X. (1997) Collected Essays of Shen Xiaolong on Chinese Cultural Linguistics.

(Ed) Gao Yihong. Changchun: Northeast Normal University Press.

Tai, J. H.Y. (1985). Temporal sequence and Chinese word order. In John Haiman (Ed) Iconicity in Syntax. P.49-72

Tsao, F. (1988). Topics and clause connectives in Chinese. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology 59, 695-737. 中央研究院歷史語言研究所集刊 .

Wang, L. (2007). Theme and rheme in the thematic organization of text: Implications for teaching academic writing. Asian EFL Journal, Volume 9, Number 1, p. 164-176

Xu, .R. (2000). Theme and Cohesion in the Writing of Expository Texts by Chinese EFL learners. Australia: University of Wollongong Thesis Collection.

Yeung, L (2009). Use and Misuse of ’besides’: A corpus study comparing native speakers’ and learners’ English. System, Volume 37, Issue 2, P.339-342

Zuo, B. (2001). Lines and circles, West and East. English Today 67, Vol. 17, No.3. P.3-8.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2018 Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research