International Journal of Applied Linguistics

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Volume 10 Issue 2 (December 2000), Pages 163-291

Linearity in rhetorical organisation: a comparative cross‐cultural analysis of newstext from the People's Republic of China and Australia (pages 241-256)

Second or foreign language teachers would be familiar with student comments such as, “I can't follow what they're saying!”, “What are they getting at?”, or “What's their point?”, particularly when reading L2 texts of considerable length. This paper seeks to address the issues premised by such comments made by L2 learners of Modern Standard Chinese, within the rubric of contrastive rhetoric studies. Such studies to date have produced equivocal evidence of variation in rhetorical organisation across culturo‐linguistic groups. In order to contribute to this continuing debate, this study employs the Rhetorical Structure Theory analytic framework to produce pictorial representations of lengthy Chinese and Australian news journal text. Results obtained clearly demonstrate the feasibility of using the RST framework in this kind of analysis. While the small size of the newstext corpus severely limits the generality of other findings, they give tentative support to the contrastive rhetoric hypothesis. Pedagogical implications include the benefits of promoting awareness of such cross‐cultural variation within the L2 classroom.

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