A Contrastive Study of Master Thesis Acknowledgements by Taiwanese and North American Students


Thesis acknowledgements are a written part genre in which graduate students express their gratitude towards a number of addressees upon completion of theses. Previous studies on thesis acknowledgements have focused on the expressions of gratitude or their generic structure. However, socio-cultural values and norms can shape the ways people express thanks and influence the rhetorical structure of a genre like thesis acknowledgements. The present study compares and contrasts the use of thanking strategies in 60 thesis acknowledgements written in English by Taiwanese and North American master students. Results show that Taiwanese students (TS) use more thanking strategies than North American students (NAS); specifically, they employ more explicit thanking strategies but less implicit thanking strategies than NAS. They also use more complex thanking strategies but less simple thanking strategies than NAS. Interestingly, the two groups vary in the arrangement of addressees and the choice of strategies for various addressees, reflecting different cultural perceptions of expressing gratitude. For example, NAS appear to make a more flexible arrangement of advisors and family members than TS. These subtle differences between TS and NAS thesis acknowledgements reveal Taiwanese and North American students’ embedded socio-pragmatic perceptions of writing this genre.

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Cheng, S. (2012) A Contrastive Study of Master Thesis Acknowledgements by Taiwanese and North American Students. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 2, 8-17. doi: 10.4236/ojml.2012.21002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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