Volume 15, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
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In this paper, we report on how authors of academic writing in Chinese (AWC) refer to themselves as single authors in the area of language studies. We find that AWC writers rely on the 1st-person plural 我们 “we,” 3rd-person NPs such as 作者/笔者 “this author,” and inanimate NPs such as 本文 “this article/paper” for self-reference. Based on these findings and subsequent surveys of journal style guides and interviews of authors, we propose that (1) these self-referring expressions are a set of conventions; (2) the motivation for these conventions is modesty, a deep-routed value of Chinese society; and (3) these expressions serve as indexicals to the writers’ identity of a modest scholar in the particular discursive context: the genre of academic writing. By so doing, our work links language use to social values, to identity studies, as well as to genre analysis, thus contributing to the literature in all these fields of investigation.


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