Stance displays in Arabic academic writing

By Dris Soulaimani
Submitted to Session P5003 (Innovations in Foreign Language Curricula, Instruction, and Proficiency Assessment, 2017 Annual Meeting
All Middle East;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Scholars deploy theories of discourse analysis as viable frameworks in multiple disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, and second language acquisition. Within these trends, the sociolinguistic nature of language has been emphasized mainly through analysis of oral language. Written texts have received less focus, although they provide a platform for analyzing properties of language in use. These texts typically involve dialogic processes that allow for interacting with potential readers and for projecting personal views and identities through explicit linguistic units or other discursive resources such as stance. Drawing on comparable data sets written by Arabic native speakers and advanced learners of Arabic, this study examines the properties of stance, which broadly refer to the ways in which ideas or people are evaluated in an interaction. Based on theories of discourse analysis and previous research on academic writing in other languages, this study investigates the discursive features of stance in Arabic academic essays. The study deconstructs the discursive qualities in these essays and illustrates the ways in which non-native Arabic writing displays discursive features of English. Of equal importance, the study shows that students’ essays, whether by native or non-native speakers, manifest dialogic features and interaction with potential readers, projecting certain identities through the use of particular discursive properties. Discussion of such properties advances our knowledge of Arabic academic writing and directs us towards areas of improvement in Arabic language teaching and learning. Identification of these features also allows learners of Arabic to understand the social identities they project and improve the quality of their writing.