Authorial identity behind first person pronouns in English research articles of native and non-native scholars

Document Type : Original Article

Author

College of Humanities and Law; China University of Mining and Technology, Beijing

Abstract

Few studies to date have investigated how native English scholars and non-native English scholars establish their authorial identity through first person pronouns. To this end, utilizing Işık-Taş’s discourse functions of first person pronouns (2018) as the analysis framework, it aims to examine how the authorial identity is represented by first person pronouns (I/me/my/we/us/our) in 40 English research articles of Applied Linguistics respectively written by native speaker scholars and non-native speaker scholars. Two sub-corpora were analyzed: native English speaker corpora and non-native English speaker corpora. The singular first person was found to be the preferred choice by both scholars. However, the analyses revealed differences in the distribution and discourse functions of first person pronouns. The first person occurred more frequently in native English speaker corpora than does non-native English speaker corpora. Based on Işık-Taş (2018) framework, low-risk functions (e.g., representing a community) and medium-risk functions (e.g., stating a goal) contrasted starkly between the two corpora. The variation in both corpora suggests that the use of first person pronouns in English research articles is not only associated with the cultural context but also by the author’s proficiency and competitiveness to publish paper internationally.

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