Metadiscourse in Dissertation Acknowledgments: Exploration of Gender Differences in EFL Texts

Author/s: Hmoud S. Alotaibi

DOI: 10.12738/estp.2018.4.0247 

Year: 2018 Vol: 18 Number: 4

Abstract

Metadiscourse, as an important analytic tool, was rarely used to explore the generic structure of Ph.D. dissertation acknowledgments, and within this genre, the role of gender has been unexplored. This study employs interactional resources within the metadiscourse framework (Hyland, 2005) to investigate gender differences in 120 dissertation acknowledgments written by male and female Saudi students at U.S. universities. The results revealed a number of similarities and differences. Both genders employed thanking God, a move that was not detected in English texts analysed by Hyland (2004). The results also showed the absence of hedging devices and engagement markers from all texts. Writers, however, distributed the boosting and attitude markers differently as female writers applied boosters more when acknowledging moral support while male writers used boosters more when thanking for academic assistance, while the opposite occurred with attitude markers. The employment of self-mentions revealed a clearer gender difference as females applied them more with different forms than males did. Overall, the analysis of dissertation acknowledgments using metadiscourse framework showed that metadiscourse boundaries are flexible as they can be adjusted to fulfill the nature of the genre it applies to. Thus, the study recommends that more research should be conducted to investigate different academic genres and part-genres to develop our understanding of the application of metadiscourse. It closes with some pedagogical implications.

Keywords
Gender, Dissertation acknowledgments, Metadiscourse, Interactional resources

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