Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

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Reverse contrastive rhetoric in expository writing: Transfer and power relations at work

Amin Zaini, Sue Ollerhead


While numerous studies have been conducted on the effects of first language (L1) rhetorical organisation on second/foreign language (L2) rhetorical organisation, few studies have been conducted on the effects of L2 rhetorical organisation on L1 rhetorical organisation. This article reports on a study that examined the effect of the organisational patterns of English as a second language on the organisational patterns demonstrated by Persian native speakers in Persian expository writing. To this end, the writing patterns of 208 participants from an Iranian public university were compared across seven groups. To examine how L2 (English) might have influenced the patterns of the participants’ paragraph organisation, the participants were asked to write a paragraph in their L1 (Persian). Moreover, in-depth interviews were conducted with three of the participants. An analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data revealed that the participants with higher levels of English language proficiency unconsciously transferred English patterns of paragraph organisation to Persian and produced paragraphs of higher quality. Pedagogical implications are drawn for the dynamic nature of L2 to L1 transfer and productive power relations while writing expository texts.

AJOL African Journals Online