Cultural differences in academic discourse

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This corpus-based study examines first-person verbs in Methods sections in English and Spanish. Quantitative analysis was based on rhetorical Move categories and qualitative analysis on linguistic profiles (collocation, colligation, semantic preference and semantic prosody). Both the English and Spanish subcorpora had more texts without first-person verbs than with this verb form. However, in the texts with this feature, the frequency was significantly higher in Spanish and the distribution of the rhetorical Moves associated with the first-person forms was also significantly different. The qualitative analysis revealed that in the English texts, the first-person signals the reasoned choice of a non-standard procedure (32 tokens) compared to only seven standard procedures, whereas in the Spanish texts the distribution was even (25 and 26 tokens, respectively). The results support cross-cultural differences in discourse functions that have implications for both translation and academic writing in cross-cultural contexts.


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