Examining the Impact of Subtle Cultural Differences on Rhetorical Variation in EFL Essays
Keywords:deixis, modals, epistemic stances, Arabic, Emirati, Korean, rhetoric, power distance, collectivism
Past research of rhetoric has relied on simple binary comparisons between groups that either do, or do not, possess a cultural trait. While countries like Korea and the UAE may share cultural values such as an acceptance of unequal power relationships (power distance) and a preference for group action (collectivism), these traits vary in degrees of intensity. To understand how these similar cultural traits may manifest differently within rhetoric, three separate corpora of persuasive essays written in English were compiled from female learners with Arabic, Korean, and English L1s. Next, frequencies of rhetorical devices from three categories (pronoun deixis, modals, and epistemic stances) were tallied and statistically compared using Friedman’s Two-Way Analysis of Variance. Results did not reveal statistically significant differences for average frequencies, yet analysis of specific rhetorical devices within each category exposed some notable disparities between corpora. Emirati (Arabic) learners, who have a strong cultural preference for power distance, tend to lessen authority of propositions and avoid a direct connection with the reader, making an argument less personal (increasing power distance). Korean learners tend to use more direct and authoritative rhetorical strategies (decreasing power distance), while simultaneously hedging with epistemic stances to maintain some degree of power distance. Hedging also appears to support Korean collectivist values that promote conflict reduction and group cohesion. Ultimately, more research of cultural influences on rhetoric is needed to develop culturally responsive pedagogy that promotes better intercultural communication.
Baker, J. R. (2021). Exploring how rhetorical organization contributes to the readability of essays. Journal of Language and Education, 7(2), 78-92. https://doi.org/10.17323/jle.2021.11240
Buja, E. (2019). Power distance in the Korean culture as it emerges from a K-drama. Redefining Community in Intercultural Context, 8(1), 137-147.
Cahill, D. (2003). The myth of the “turn” in contrastive rhetoric. Written Communication, 20(2), 170–194. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741088303020002003
Celce-Murcia, M., & Larsen-Freeman, D. (1999). The grammar book: An ESL / EFL teacher’s course (2nd ed.). New York: Heinle & Heinle Publishers.
Connor, U. (2004). Intercultural rhetoric research: Beyond texts. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 3(4), 291-304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2004.07.003
Connor, U., Nagelhout, E., & Rozycki, W. V. (Eds.). (2008). Contrastive rhetoric: Reaching to intercultural rhetoric (Vol. 169). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.169
Fatihi, A. R. (2019). Waggish coquetry in South Asian street communication. Guilford, CT: Lexington Books.
Hamadouche, M. (2013). Intercultural studies in the Arab world from a contrastive rhetoric perspective. Arab World English Journal, 2, 181-188.
Hamam, D. (2020). A study of the rhetorical features and the argument structure of EAP essays by L1 and L2 students in the UAE. Journal of Asia TEFL, 17(2), 699-706. http://dx.doi.org/10.18823/asiatefl.2020.17.2.28.699
Hammad, H. M. (2002). A contrastive examination of the rhetorical patterns of Arab speakers’ Arabic and ESL writing [Master’s thesis, University of Calgary]. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1880/42480
Hofstede Insights. (2021a). Country comparison: South Korea and the United States. Hofstede Insights. https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country-comparison/south-korea,the-usa/
Hofstede Insights. (2021b). United Arab Emirates. Hofstede Insights. https://www.hofstede-insights.com/country/the-united-arab-emirates/
Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (Eds.). (2004). Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. New York: Sage publications.
Holliday, A. (1999). Small cultures. Applied Linguistics, 20(2), 237-264. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/20.2.237
House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Ruiz-Quintanilla, S. A., Dorfman, P. W., Javidan, M., Dickson, M., & Gupta, V. (1999). Cultural influences on leadership and organizations: Project GLOBE. Advances in Global Leadership, 1, 171-233.
House, R., Javidan, M., Hanges, P., & Dorfman, P. (2002). Understanding cultures and implicit leadership theories across the globe: an introduction to project GLOBE. Journal of World Business, 37(1), 3-10.
Huh, M. H., & Lee, I. (2019). A search for EFL college students’ culture-related rhetorical templates of argumentative writing. English Teaching, 74(3), 55-77. https://doi.org/10.15858/engtea.74.3.201909.55
Ishikawa, S. (2013). The ICNALE and sophisticated contrastive interlanguage analysis of Asian learners of English. In S. Ishikawa (Ed.), Learner corpus studies in Asia and the world (pp. 91–118). Kobe: Kobe University Press. Retrieved from http://www.lib.kobe-u.ac.jp/infolib/meta_pub/G0000003kernel_81006678.
Ishikawa, S. (2018). ICNALE: The International Corpus Network of Asian Learners of English. Kobe, Japan: Kobe University Press. Retrieved from http://language.sakura.ne.jp/icnale/
Jiang, X. (2006). Cross-cultural pragmatic differences in US and Chinese press conferences: the case of the North Korea nuclear crisis. Discourse & Society, 17(2), 237-257. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926506060249
Kaplan, R. B. (1966). Cultural thought patterns in intercultural education. Language Learning, 16(1), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1966.tb00804.x
Kim, E. Y. J. (2017). Academic writing in Korea: Its dynamic landscape and implications for intercultural rhetoric. TESL-EJ, 21(3), 1-15. http://www.tesl-ej.org/wordpress/issues/volume21/ej83/ej83a3/
Kubota, R., & Lehner, A. (2004). Toward critical contrastive rhetoric. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13(1), 7-27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2004.04.003
Liu, Y., & Du, Q. (2018). Intercultural rhetoric through a learner lens: American students’ perceptions of evidence use in Chinese yìlùnwén writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 40, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2018.01.001
McIntosh, K., Connor, U., & Gokpinar-Shelton, E. (2017). What intercultural rhetoric can bring to EAP/ESP writing studies in an English as a lingua franca world. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 29, 12-20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2017.09.001
Min, S., Paek, J. K., & Kang, Y. (2019). Exploring the use of hedges and stance devices in relation to Korean EFL learners’ argumentative writing qualities. English Teaching, 74(1), 3-23. https://doi.org/10.15858/engtea.74.1.201903.3
Petersoo, P. (2007). What does ‘we’ mean? National deixis in the media. Journal of Language and Politics, 6(3), 419-436. https://doi.org/10.1075/jlp.6.3.08pet
Ryu, H. (2006). Rhetorical patterns in Korean college students’ English expository writings. English Teaching, 61(3), 273-292.
Severino, C. (1993). The "doodles" in context: Qualifying claims about contrastive rhetoric. The Writing Center Journal, 14(1), 44-62. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43441939
Suhadi, J. (2011). Epistemic and deontic modality: Two sides of a coin. JULISA, 11(2), 156-179. https://doi.org/10.31227/osf.io/wv7zx
Van Everdingen, Y. M., & Waarts, E. (2003). A multi-country study of the adoption of ERP systems. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Erasmus University Press. https://www.erim.eur.nl/
Winiharti, M. (2012). The difference between modal verbs in deontic and epistemic modality. Humaniora, 3(2), 532-539. https://doi.org/10.21512/humaniora.v3i2.3396
Yule, G. (1996). Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Zhao, F., & Khan, M. S. (2013). An empirical study of e-government service adoption: culture and behavioral intention. International Journal of Public Administration, 36(10), 710-722. https://doi.org/10.1080/01900692.2013.791314