Edited by Gary G. Fogal and Marjolijn H. Verspoor
[Language Learning & Language Teaching 54] 2020
Chapter 4. Adaptive imitation
Formulaicity and the words of others in L2 English academic writing
This chapter explores how L2 academic writers imitate adaptively as they manage the need to communicate academic content using language that aligns with the predictable patterns of the discourse community. Evidence from two studies of L2 writing is combined to explore how writers work with a dynamic store of language chunks as their emergent building blocks. One study, a cross-sectional discourse analysis of the writing of 480 test-takers (Knoch, Macqueen, & O’Hagan, 2014), investigates formulaicity and source text use in two writing tasks. The other, a longitudinal qualitative case study of a student writer (Macqueen, 2012), takes a close-up view of her word combinations and use of source texts as she revises an assignment. Taken together, the findings suggest that the early stages of L2 academic writing are characterized by greater reliance on verbatim imitation of the patterns of others and less formulaicity. Over time, L2 writers represent academic content through interweaving the words of others with their own internalized patterns in increasingly conventional manipulations.