Modal verb use in stance-taking : a comparative corpus-based study

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Modal verb use in stance-taking : a comparative corpus-based study

 

Author: Zhang, Ying
Title: Modal verb use in stance-taking : a comparative corpus-based study
Degree: M.A.
Year: 2013
Subject: English language -- Modality.
English language -- Verb.
English language -- Study and teaching -- Chinese speakers.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of English
Pages: v, 84 pages : illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2687605
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/7664
Abstract: English modal verbs as dominant devices in expressing personal propositions are proved to be noticeably problematic for second language students. Comparative research has been conducted on the use of modals regarding socio-cultural frameworks and strategies for making requests between NSs and NSSs groups, which settled the vibrant scope for investigation. This paper examines and elaborates the use of nine central modals in stance-taking by US university students and Tertiary-level Chinese learners of English. The comparison adopts a corpus-based approach, which contains quantitative analysis regarding distributions of the overall profile, patterns of use and semantic categories of modals, accompanying with qualitative scrutiny of generalized and specified illustrations extracted from subcorpora of LOCNESS and CLEC. In accordance with previous studies, the results demonstrate distinctive employments of modal verbs by the two groups. In particular, circumstances of Chinese students overusing or underusing certain modals are explored, with the probable factors of (1) language proficiency including grammatical competence, semantic misconception and pragmatic inadequacy, (2) L1 transfer such as collocating two modal verbs and unnecessary clusters of modals, as well as (3) the cultural influence reflected in the pragmatic use like strong obligation and excessive preference of combining modals with personal pronouns. Thus some teaching implications are correspondingly proposed to adjust to the demands of improvement for Chinese learners.

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