A rhetorical analysis approach to English for academic purposes


  • Jo Anne Neff Van Aertselaer Universidad Complutense




Spanish EFL writers, transfer, impersonalization strategies, English for Academic Purposes


Both English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and English for Specific Purposes have advanced from the exploration of lexico-grammatical features during the 1980s and 1990s toward a thicker language description which includes not only lexico-grammatical features but also studies of genre-rhetorical features and of the social practices which shape academic texts in different disciplines (Berkenkotter, Huckin and Ackerman, 1991). These latter studies have tended to focus on the conventions particular to specific discourse communities. However, as Bhatia (2002) has pointed out, there is significant overlap in such genres as research abstracts and introduction sections and perhaps in textbook language as well. This paper addresses an area of overlap in the academic writing of Spanish university students in English: the construction of authorial voice by through the use of impersonalization strategies. The analysis presented here shows that Spanish students transfer rhetorical conventions from Spanish into English, particularly in the case of the we strategy and, in the writing of more advanced students, the se passive strategy.


Download data is not yet available.


Barber, C. L. (1962). “Some measurable characteristics of modern scientific prose”, in Contribution to English Syntax and Philology, reprinted in J. Swales (ed.) (1988), Episodes in ESP (1-16). Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall International.

Bazerman, C. (1988). Shaping Written Knowledge: The Genre and Activity of the Experimental Article in Science. Madison: University of Wisconsin.

Bazerman, C. (1995). The Informed Writer. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Berkenkotter, C., T. Huckin, and J. Ackerman (1991). “Social Context and Scially Constructed Texts: The Initiation of a Graduate Student into a Writing Research Community”, in C. Bazerman and J. Paradis (eds.) Textual Dynamics of the Professions: Historical and Contemporary Studies of Writing in Professional Communities. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 191-215.

Bhatia, V. K. (1993). Analyzing Genre: Language Use in Professional Settings. London: Longman.

Bhatia, V. K. (2002). “A Generic View of Academic Discourse”, in J. Flowerdew (ed.) Academic Discourse. London: Longman, 21-39.

Biber, D., S. Johansson, G. Leech, S. Conrad and E. Finegan (1999). Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman.

Bley-Vroman, R. (1990). “The Logical Problem of Foreign Language Learning”. LinguisticAnalysis20: 3-39.

Bley-Vroman, R. (1989). “What is the Logical Problem of Foreign Language Learning?”, in S.Gass and J. Schachter (eds.) Linguistic Perspectives on Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 41-68. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524544.005

Bley-Vroman, R. (1990). “The Logical Problem of Foreign Language Learning”. Linguistic Analysis 20, 3-39.

Bogaards, P. and B. Laufer (eds.). (2004). Vocabulary in a Second Language. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.10

Cassany, D. (1993). Describir el escribir: como se aprende a escribir. Paidós: Barcelona.

Cassany, D. (1995). La cocina de la escritura. Barcelona: Anagrama.

Contreras, E. H. (1976). A Theory of Word Order with Special Reference to Spanish. New York: North Holland Publishing Co.

Cosme, C. (2004). “Towards a Corpus-Based Cross-Linguistic Study of Clause Combining: Methodological Framework and Preliminary Results”. Belgian Journal of English Language and Literature (BELL). New Series 2, 199-224.

Croft, W. (1996). Typology and Universals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Francis, G. (1993). “A Corpus-drive Approach to Grammar—Principles, Methods and Examples”, in M. Baker, et al. (ed.) Text and Technology: In Honour of John Sinclair. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 137-157. https://doi.org/10.1075/z.64.10fra

Granger, S. (2003). “The Corpus Approach: A Common Way Forward for Contrastive Linguistics and Translation Studies?”, in S. Granger, J. Lerot and S. Petch-Tyson (eds.)Corpus-based Approaches to Contrastive Linguistics and Translation Studies. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 17-29.

Greenberg, J. (1991). “Typology/Universals and Second Language Acquisition”, in T. Huebner and C. Ferguson (eds.) Cross-currents in Second Language Acquisition and Linguistic Theories. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 37-43. https://doi.org/10.1075/lald.2.05gre

Goldberg, A. (1995). A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.

Halliday, M.A.K., P. Strevens, and A. McIntosh (1964). The Linguistic Sciences and Language Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Halliday, M.A.K. (1994). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. (2nd edition). London: Arnold.

Huebner, T. and C. Ferguson (eds.). (1991). Cross-currents in Second Language Acquisition and Linguistic Theories. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/lald.2

Hyland, K. (2000). Disciplinary Discourse: Social Interaction in Academic Writing. London: Longman Pearson Education.

Hyltenstam, K. (1986). “Markedness, Language Universals, Language Typology and Language Acquisition”, in C. Pfaff (ed.) First and Second Language Acquisition Processes. Cambridge, MA: Newbury House, 55-78.

James, C. (1989). Errors in Language Learning and Use: Exploring Error Analysis. London: Longman.

López Guix, J. G. and J. Wilkinson (2001). Manual de traducción: inglés-castellano. Barcelona: Gedisa.

Moon, R. (1998). Fixed Expressions and Idiomas in English: A Corpus-based Approach. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Neff, J. (1991). Information Structuring in Spanish EFL Expository Compositions. Unpublished M.A. Thesis, Lancaster University, Department of Linguistics and Modern English Language.

Neff, J. and C. Bunce (forthcoming). “Pragmatic Word Order Errors and Discourse-Grammar Interdependence”, in M. Gómez González (ed.), IV Conferencia de Lingüística Contrastiva. Santiago de Compostela: Universidad de Santiago.

Neff, J., E. Dafouz, M. Díez, F. Martínez, R. Prieto , and J. P. Rica (2003). “Evidentiality and the Construction of Writer Stance in Native and Non-Native Texts”, in J. Hladky (ed.) Language and Function. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 231-243. https://doi.org/10.1075/sfsl.49.16nef

Neff, J. and R. Prieto (1994). “First Language Influence on Spanish EFL University Writing Development”, in ERIC Clearing House on Language and Linguistics (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 385 144). Washington, D.C: Educational Resource Information Center, U.S. Department of Education.

Odlin, T. (1989).Language Transfer: Cross-Linguistic Influence in Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524537

Sharwood Smith, M. and E. Kellerman (1986). “Cross-Linguistic Influence in Second Language Acquisition: An Introduction”, in E. Kellerman and M. Sharwood Smith (eds.) Cross-linguistic Influence in Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1-9.

Sinclair, J. (1991). Corpus, Concordance and Collocation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Strevens, P. (1977). Special purpose language learning: A perspective, Language Teaching and Linguistics Abstracts, 10, 145-163. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444800003402

Strevens, P. (1983). “SEASPEAK: A Project in Applied Linguistics, Language Engineering and Eventually, ESP for Sailors”. English for Specific Purposes2, 123-130. https://doi.org/10.1016/0272-2380(93)90002-O

Swales, J. (1988). Espisodes in ESP. A Source and Reference Book for the Development of English for Science and Technology. New York: Prentice Hall.

Swales, J. (1990). Genre Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thompson, S. and P. Hopper (2001). “Transitivity, Clause Structure, and Argument Structure: Evidence from Conversation”, in J. L. Bybee and P. J. Hopper (eds.) Frequency and the Emergence of Linguistic Structure. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 27-60. https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.45.03tho

Traugott, E. C. (1988). “Pragmatic Strengthening and Grammaticalization”. Berkeley Linguistics Society, 14, 406-416. https://doi.org/10.3765/bls.v14i0.1784

Ventola, E. and A. Mauranen (1996). Academic Writing. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.41

Vinay, J.P. and J. Darbelnet (1995) [1958]. Comparative Stylistics of French and English: A Methodology for Translation. Translated and ed. by J.C Sager and M.-J. Hamel. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/btl.11