Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

A Survey on the Use of Causal Discourse Markers among Chinese English Majors

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

A Survey on the Use of Causal Discourse Markers among Chinese English Majors

Article excerpt


Chinese English Majors mainly write argumentative compositions which itself is a kind of causal relations. Thereby, causal discourse markers, as one of the Discourse Markers can be employed in their argumentations to tighten the coherence and logical relations. Based on the results of other scholars' previous research, this thesis applies questionnaires to investigate the reasons of using causal discourse markers in English majors' oral and written English. According to the analysis of questionnaires, the reasons that caused English majors using of causal discourse markers are as follows: 1) lack of stylistic awareness; 2) intentionally avoiding making mistakes; 3) time factor (timed); 4) negative L1 transfer; 5) teachers' influence. The results generated from the data analysis and discussions have also provided some pedagogical implications.

Keywords: causal discourse markers, English majors, oral and written English, questionnaire

This research is financed by the Department of Education of Sichuan Province, China (Project No. 13SA0015).

1. Introduction

Connectives have become a new researching field in conversation analysis and grammatical study over the years since Quirk (1985) found out that the linguistic phenomenon that there were many recurrent adjuncts in oral English, such as well, you see, you know, because, etc.. In English writing and speaking, visible connective elements are necessary for the leaners to complete the meaning of context. Discourse markers are considered as these kinds of visible connective elements which are commonly employed to express various logical relations between sentences or paragraphs which can make people better comprehend the whole context. As one of the DMs (Discourse markers), causal discourse markers are commonly employed to express logical causal relations for linking sentences.

The essence of argument, then, is reason, and reason may work in two ways: be deduction and induction (Doug, 2005). Thus it can be seen that causal DMs play a fundamental role in spoken and written argumentative compositions. Given the fact that Chinese English majors mainly write argumentative compositions, and argumentative writing itself is a kind of causal relation, thereby, they can use causal DMs in their argumentations to tighten the coherence and logical causal relations Since many researchers at home and abroad have been taken advantage of corpora to investigate the EFL (English as Foreign Language) learners' using features of CDMs, this paper is going to employ a questionnaire to explore the deeper reasons caused their using features on the use of CDMs.

2. Literature Review

There are some investigations related to the use of CDMs by EFL (English as Foreign Language) learners at abroad. For instance, Hays (1992,) discovered that EFL learners employ so frequently. Schleppegrell (1996) did a survey on the use strategies of because by EFL learners and found that EFL cannot use because suitably, that is the learners ignored the pragmatic differences of DMs in spoken English and written English. Altenberg and Trapper (1998) revealed that Swedish students cannot employ therefore and thus properly like native speakers, particularly in argumentative compositions. That is to say there exists the problem of using CDMs between students.

Similarly, our Chinese researchers also discover some problems on the use of CDMs by our own students. Mo Junhua(2005) pointed out that the density of CDMs Chinese students use is more and the diversity is less than the native speakers'. The CDMs they are inclined to use are concentrated on so, because and therefore etc. And their stylistic awareness is not very clear. Cai Yan (2005)'s results show that the frequency of placing adverbial because-clause before the principle clause by Chinese English learners is higher than that of native speakers due to students' negative L1 transfer. And the higher proficiency of English, the fewer phenomena of Chinese English learners put adverbial because-clause before the principle clause and the lower rate of using the structure of because. …

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