An Intercultural Analysis of Personal Metadiscourse in English and Chinese Commencement Speeches

Yuting Zhu


The existing metadiscourse studies on the comparison of English and Chinese language are relatively few, especially on spoken discourse. The present study examines the use of personal metadiscourse in English and Chinese commencement speeches based on Ädel’s reflexive model of metadiscourse and its adaption. The corpus for this study comprises 60 commencement speeches – 30 Chinese and 30 English – delivered in prestigious American and Chinese universities respectively. This study investigates (1) The similarities and differences in the use of personal metadiscourse in English and Chinese commencement speeches; (2) the possible reasons behind these similarities and differences. Qualitative and quantitative analysis indicates that American speeches feature markedly more personal metadiscourse than Chinese speeches. Textual analysis further reveals some similarities and differences in the discourse functions of personal metadiscourse between two sets of texts due to genre characteristics and social-cultural differences. The findings of this study provide some insight into the classification of Chinese metadiscourse and the awareness of cross-cultural communication.


Metadiscourse, Commencement Speeches, Personal Metadiscourse, English Language, Chinese Language, Comparative Study, Discourse Function

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