I’m part of the collective: exploring the influence of L1 culture on communal representation through the use of we, us and our in Nigerian undergraduates’ written texts
This study explores the influence of L1 culture on Nigerian tertiary learners’ use of first-person plural personal pronouns we, us and our in written texts to indicate the collective, i.e., the writers’ social community. The quantitative and semantic analysis of the learners’ use of the pronouns was done using the Nigerian learner English corpus (NLEC) in comparison to Louvain corpus of native English student essays (LOCNESS). The quantitative analysis indicates the overuse of first-person plural pronouns by Nigerian learners compared to their LOCNESS counterparts. The study reports on the semantic analysis and reveals that the learners’ overuse of these pronouns can be traced to their cultural background of collective shared experience, communality, inclusiveness and solidarity. This is evident in the collocates of the pronouns, e.g., ‘we live,’ ‘we have,’ ‘technology has helped us,’' ‘it gives us’, ‘our society,’ ‘our nation.’ The student-writers’ use of these pronouns indicates their involvement in issues of discourse and they emphasize collective experience. The findings of the study confirm writers make discoursal choices that align them with their L1 community which is traceable in their L2 written texts.
Keywords: pronouns; culture; undergraduates; academic writing; student-writers; second language