Conjunctive structures in learner English
A qualitative analysis of hortatory expositions
In this paper we address the issue of conjunction use in learner writing from a text-structuring angle, focusing on hortatory expositions by NNS learners and NS professionals. The learners are advanced Dutch-speaking students of English, while the professionals are journalists writing for British quality newspapers. We investigate how external conjunctive items (CIs), which express real-world relations between states of affairs, interact with internal CIs, which relate to the writer’s speech acts or modal positions, to construct specific rhetorical macro-structures, or conjunctive profiles. On the basis of qualitative and quantitative analysis, we identify four profiles: (1) predominance of internal CIs, (2) predominant use of external CIs, (3) spreading of external and internal CIs over the whole essay, (4) concentration of internal CIs in introduction and conclusion. The first profile is exclusive to NNS learner writing, but the other three profiles are found in both NNS and NS expositions. Gross overuse of CIs is found in the first and second learner profiles only. Overall, the advanced learner essays display emergent conjunctive macro-structuring, which teaching can build on.