University of Tasmania
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Writing to be heard : authorial voice in the written discourse of Chinese international students

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posted on 2023-05-27, 13:51 authored by Brown, Davina
Voice in academic writing has become one of the most significant concepts in second language writing research and applied linguistics today. Voice research is replete, however, with difficulty due to conflicting definitions of voice, theoretical frameworks, and diverse views regarding the role of voice in writing pedagogy. The research suggests that authorial voice is significant in terms of the writer‚ÄövÑvºs acquisition of dominant academic conventions, denoting membership of high capital academic communities (Hyland, 2002). It is also evident that the interstice between authorial voice in the target language and non-native speakers is marked by the struggle to negotiate, adapt, acquire, and, also, to resist certain disciplinary and academic voice practices. Empirical studies of voice have, to date, considered the reader reception of voice as well as the presence of expressivist linguistic items in texts. There is limited research which focuses on, first, the linguistic resources which writers use to construct voice, and, second, the voices which non-native speakers construct in their L2 (second language) texts. This study explores the authorial voice types constructed in the academic texts of Chinese international students by detailing the linguistic items employed to construct voice. The study, further, views voice as a form of self-representation, and implements Ivanic and Camps‚ÄövÑvº (2001) pioneering voice typology as derived from Halliday's (1985) macrofunctions. This typology is unique within voice research as it embeds authorial voice within the whole language system. By focusing on the academic discourse of Chinese international students, this study also contributes to present understandings of Chinese background students as writers in the Australian tertiary context. This research comprises a qualitative research design with the primary methodology grounded in a text analysis. The study involved four participants and eight texts. Ivanic and Camps‚ÄövÑvº voice typology was applied to the eight texts resulting in a detailed overview of the voice types constructed in the texts. Ivanic and Camps‚ÄövÑvº (2001) voice framework provided descriptive codes for data analysis, and interpretive codes were also implemented to strengthen the analysis. The results of the text analysis indicate that Chinese international students construct a diverse range of voice types in their L2 texts which both align with, and, also, challenge the high capital voice types of the academic discourse community. The results indicate that voices in texts are often conflicting, dynamic, and agentive. The findings also provide a detailed study of the textual choices and resources used by the participants to create authorial voice. The limited nature of the deficit approach as applied to the L2 academic discourse of Chinese international students is also underscored in the findings of this study. The implications of the research are outlined and include the importance of constructing credible authorial voices in order to gain membership of particular academic communities as well as the central role of voice in specifying the agency of non-native speakers as writers. The importance of further text-based, author focused voice research is also suggested.


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