Semantics

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By David A. Schmidt

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For example, the findings of some studies point to the fact that discourse in the classical Chinese rhetorical tradition, which also influenced the rhetorical traditions in Japan and Korea, is structured differently than that in AngloAmerican formal written text. The differences in discourse structure can make the L2 essays of Chinese students appear to be indirect when the writer’s position is not expressed directly but is alluded to and implied. Similarly, the rhetorical and communicative purpose of overt persuasion may not be prominent in the discourse paradigms based on the traditional Confucian approach to argumentation and support for one’s thesis.

Investigations in contrastive rhetoric delved into comparative analysis of discourse and textual features of L2 student essays and published articles whose authors were speakers of Chinese (Hinds, 1990; Matalene, 1985; Mohan & Lo, 1985; Scollon, 1991), Korean (Hinds, 1990, Hinkel, 1997a; Scarcella & C. Lee, 1989), Arabic (Ostler, 1987; Sa’addedin, 1989), Japanese (Hinds, 1984, 1990; Tsujimura, 1987), or Thai (Bickner & Peyasantiwong, 1988; Indrasuta, 1988). For example, the findings of some studies point to the fact that discourse in the classical Chinese rhetorical tradition, which also influenced the rhetorical traditions in Japan and Korea, is structured differently than that in AngloAmerican formal written text.

Reid (1993) reported that among the many properties of academic text, L2 student essays are usually evaluated based on discourse organization, the content and the ideas discussed in an essay, vocabulary, syntactic features, and punctuation, paragraphing, and even letter capitalization. Her study shows that the range of vocabulary, the idiomaticity of language in FEATURES OF STUDENT ESSAY WRITING 27 text, the uses of appropriate word form, and “word-form mastery” (p. 236) are considered to be among the most important criteria for evaluating L2 lexical repertoire.

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