It-clefts in English L1 and L2 academic writing
The case of Norwegian learners
This paper examines it-clefts in five corpora representing Norwegian learners of English, novice L1 writers of English and specialist L1 academic writing. The comparison also concerns general argumentative writing vs. discipline-specific writing. The frequency of it-clefts varies across the corpora. The learners underuse clefts, but the results of the register comparison are inconclusive. The types of clefted constituent and the choice of subordinator in the cleft clause vary more in L1 than in L2 writing. There are also differences as to the syntactic environments of clefts and their discourse functions. For example, the learners overuse clefts in interrogatives in argumentative writing. In discipline-specific writing, the learners underuse clefts in that-clauses, particularly with the function of reporting previous research.
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