Themes in Swedish advanced learners' writing in English

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Advanced non-native learners’ writing may contain very few grammar mistakes but still appear somewhat deviant from native writing. This study investigates to what extent this deviance may be a result of differences in the non-native learners’ organization of information. Using a Systemic Functional Linguistic approach, it compares theme selection and thematic variation in argumentative writing by Swedish advanced learners in the International Corpus of Learner English and native speakers in the Louvain Corpus of Native English Essays. The results show that the Swedish learners’ themes tend to contain more interpersonal information. The Swedish learners also tend to overuse cleft constructions, especially to thematize new information and to express personal opinions. This results in a more emphatic style of persuasion and greater involvement and interaction with the reader.


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