A Corpus-based Analysis of Epistemic Stance Adverbs in Essays Written by Native English Speakers and Iranian EFL Learners

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of English, Isfahan (Khorasgan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran


Academic essays entail taking a stance on the truth value of propositions. Epistemic adverbs deal with the speaker's assessment of the truth value of propositions. Employing a corpus-based approach with descriptive statistics and qualitative description, this study explored the use of epistemic stance adverbs in academic essays written by native English speakers and Iranian EFL learners. Following Biber et al.'s (1999) framework of stance adverbials, the researchers employed a corpus of 62077 words taken from class assignments written by Iranian EFL learners and a corpus of 65268 words taken from British Academic Written English (BAWE) to investigate the use of epistemic stance adverbs. Antconc software 3.4.3 version was used to search the most frequent stance adverbs. Frequency counts for each of the adverbs were extracted and normalized per 1000 words; then, Chi-square was run to pinpoint any differences between the two groups. The findings revealed both similarities and differences in the use of stance adverbs between the two groups. For example, EFL writers used more confident adverbs to show their authorial presence while native speakers used more maybe adverbs which are less authority-oriented. The findings may have implications for second/foreign language learners and writing instruction.    


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