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An intercultural study of first-person plural references in biomedical writing

Author(s): Oana Maria Carciu

Journal: Ibérica
ISSN 1139-7241

Volume: 18;
Start page: 71;
Date: 2009;
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Keywords: contrastive rhetoric | personal pronouns | research articles | biomedical writing | English as a lingua franca

This paper carries out a contrastive analysis of biomedical research articles published in international English-medium journals and written by scholars from two cultural contexts (Anglo-American and Spanish). It first describes both similarities and differences in terms of the rhetorical effects that first-person plural references (“we”, “our” and “us”) create across the different sections of the IMRaD pattern (Swales, 1990). Then, the functions of these pronouns are explored following Tang and John’s (1999) taxonomy of the discourse roles of personal pronouns. Quantitative results show that, overall, Spanish writers tend to use “we” pronouns more than their native counterparts, thus making themselves more visible in their texts particularly in Introduction and Discussion sections. On the other hand, results also indicate striking similarities regarding the discourse role of “we” as “guide”, “architect”, “opinion-holder” and “originator” –roles which seem to indicate writers’ awareness of the specific communicative purposes of “we” references in each RA section. This crosscultural variation is finally discussed in relation to the dominance of English as the international lingua franca of academic communication and research (Benfield & Howard, 2000; Tardy, 2004; Giannoni, 2008a).
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