Expression of authority in academic writing: a comparative study of the usage of first-person pronouns between genders
Goicoechea Ortiz, Ainhoa
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The expression of authority by means of first-person pronouns in Academic Discourse has long been a controversial issue. Traditionally, impersonality was said to be one of the core characteristics of expert writing; However, recent approaches towards the discipline refute that idea and consider the presence of the author in a text a key point in the gaining of academic recognition. Different factors such as the discipline the writer belongs to or the sociocultural context they have been raised in or are currently writing in have proven to be crucial in determining how a writer expresses their authority in a text. This, together with emerging studies that show significant differences in writing between genders, suggest that men and women scholars may express their authority differently. Nevertheless, there is not, to my knowledge, any study examining whether there is any significant difference in the expression of authority by first-person pronouns between the two genders. The specific goal of this dissertation is to analyse the possible divergence in the frequency of use, rhetorical functions and distribution of the firstperson pronouns in scholarly writing by the two genders. For doing so, I have compiled a corpus of 24 research articles (12 per gender) and have then analysed all the instances of first-person pronouns found in them from a qualitative and quantitative point of view. The results obtained show that even though there is not much difference in the frequency of use of first-person pronouns between genders, there is significant difference in the functions/roles that those pronouns display. Women seem to use first-person pronouns to accompany the reader through the text, this way guiding them towards their same conclusions. In other words, the expression of authority by women does not seem to display a high degree of authoritativeness. On the contrary, men seem to use first-person pronouns to express their ideas and conclusions in a more direct way, that is to say, their expression of authority displays a higher degree of authoritativeness.