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Investigating the English Proficiency of Learners: A Corpus-Based Study of Contrastive Discourse Markers in China

DOI: 10.4236/ojml.2015.53025, PP. 281-290

Keywords: Contrastive Discourse Marker, Language Proficiency, Preference, Corpus

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Abstract:

Discourse markers signal the relationship between the neighboring sentences. The present comparative study investigates the use of Contrastive Discourse Markers between Chinese English learners and native speakers based on corpus data. Special attention is allocated to but and however, since these two small words are the most popular discourse markers in Chinese English Learners and Native Speakers. Quantitative and qualitative analyses indicate that both groups prefer to employ discourse markers like but, although, (even) though, however, etc. when signaling a contrastive relationship between S1 and S2, though they have different priorities in different contextual situation; besides, but is overused significantly by Chinese English Learners to signal a contrastive relationship rather than add further information in context; lastly, Chinese English Learner usually employs however at the beginning of the sentence, while native speakers put it both at the beginning or middle of the sentences, which both signal the relationship between topics and messages. The findings also suggest that more detailed instructions should be delivered on the procedural meanings and syntactical positions of Contrastive Discourse Markers used in context.

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