“There are significant differences…”: the secret life of existential there in academic writing

Jiang, Feng Kevin and Hyland, Ken (2020) “There are significant differences…”: the secret life of existential there in academic writing. Lingua, 233. ISSN 0024-3841

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While numerous interactive aspects of academic writing have attracted attention in recent years, one common feature which has escaped scrutiny is "existential there" (as in "there are significant differences"). Based on a corpus of 80 research articles from four disciplines, this study explores the 'secret life' of this construction, revealing how academic writers use it to organise their arguments and persuade peers of their claims. In contrast to the style guides which regard existential there as an "empty structure" to be avoided, our data show that academic authors make considerable use of it across different sections of the research article to achieve their persuasive purposes. We also discuss differences in how writers in different disciplines favour diverse accompanying head nouns to foreground the particular aspect of information their readers are likely to find most familiar and persuasive. We conclude that existential there is a key feature in the academic author's rhetorical toolbox, allowing them to build interaction with readers and claim credit for their ideas. (C) 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: academic writing,corpus analysis,disciplinary,english,existential there,interaction,metadiscourse,persuasion,research articles
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Language in Education
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2019 10:30
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 00:13
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/72953
DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2019.102758


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