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Adventures in English Syntax

By Robert Freidin

Adventures in English Syntax "this book will enrich your understanding of English in ways that will make you a more effective user of the language."


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Modality Across Syntactic Categories

Edited by Ana Arregui, Maria Luisa Rivero, and Andres Salanova

Modality Across Syntactic Categories "Chapters in the book demonstrate that modality involves many more syntactic categories and levels of syntactic structure than traditionally assumed."



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Dissertation Information


Title: The Introductory It Pattern in Academic Writing by Non-native-speaker Students, Native-speaker Students and Published Writers: A Corpus-based Study Add Dissertation
Author: Tove Larsson Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://katalog.uu.se/empinfo/?languageId=1&id=N12-2236
Institution: Uppsala University, English linguistics
Completed in: 2016
Linguistic Subfield(s): Applied Linguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics;
Director(s): Erik Smitterberg
Merja Kytö

Abstract: The present compilation thesis investigates the use of a pattern that is commonly found in academic writing, namely the introductory it pattern (e.g. it is interesting to note the difference). The main aim is to shed further light on the formal and func-tional characteristics of the pattern in academic writing. When relevant, the thesis also investigates functionally related constructions. The focus is on learner use, but reference corpora of published writing and non-native-speaker student writing have also been utilized for comparison. The thesis encompasses an introductory survey (a “kappa”) and four articles.

The material comes from six different corpora: ALEC, BATMAT, BAWE, LOCRA, MICUSP and VESPA. Factors such as native-speaker status, discipline, level of achievement (lower-graded vs. higher-graded texts) and level of expertise in academic writing are investigated in the articles. In more detail, Articles 1 and 2 examine the formal (syntactic) characteristics of the introductory it pattern. The pattern is studied using modified versions of two previous syntactic classifications. Articles 3 and 4 investigate the functional characteristics of the pattern. In Article 3, a functional classification is developed and used to categorize the instances. Article 4 examines the stance-marking function of the pattern in relation to functionally related constructions (e.g. stance adverbs such as possibly and stance noun + prepo-sitional phrase combinations like the possibility of).

The introductory it pattern was found to be relatively invariable in the sense that a small set of formal and functional realizations made up the bulk of the tokens. The learners, especially those whose texts received a lower grade, made particularly frequent use of high-frequency realizations of the pattern. The thesis highlights the importance of not limiting investigations of this kind to comparisons across native-speaker status, as this is only one of the several factors that can influence the distri-bution. By exploring the potential importance of many different factors from both a formal and a functional perspective, the thesis paints a more complete picture of the introductory it pattern in academic writing, of use in, for instance, second-language instruction.