A Meta-Analysis of Studies of Contrastive Rhetoric in Iran

Topics: Linguistics, Composition studies, Writing Pages: 31 (9909 words) Published: July 20, 2010
A Meta-analysis of Studies of Contrastive Rhetoric in Iran
Z. Jalali, N Fallah,
Supervisor: A. Zare-ee

The present work briefly summarizes the history of research in the area of contrastive rhetoric. It then summarizes the work in the area of contrastive rhetoric done in Iran. The paper points to the fact that in Iran contrastive rhetoric studies have focused on a) linguistic and rhetorical patterns as reflected in L1 and L2 writings of learners, b) discovering writing behaviors, c) meta-discourse in applied linguistics, d) the impact of EFL learners rhetorical organizations in English text comprehension and that they have found that there is a correlation between L1 writing behaviors and L2 writing behaviors and also in most cases L1 writing is longer and more complex . Furthermore, cultural specific factors influence L2 writings. Those who write in meaningful context with potential and practical audience in mind are found to be competent writers. Besides, sufficient knowledge of discourse patterns and markers will also be helpful in text comprehension and writing quality respectively.

Keywords: Contrastive Rhetoric, Iran, Review

1. Introduction

Contrastive rhetoric has its origin in hypothesis of linguistic relativity. Benjamin Whorf, a student of Sapir's, elaborated on the ideas of Sapir, as the following quotation shows:

This study shows that the forms of a person's thoughts are controlled by inexorable laws of patterns of which he is unconscious. These patterns are the un-perceived intricate systematizations of his own language - shown readily enough by a candid comparison and contrast with other languages, especially those of a different linguistic family. This thinking itself is in a language - in English, in Sanskrit, in Chinese. And every language is a vast pattern-system, different from others, in which are culturally ordained the forms and categories by which the personality not only communicates, but also analyzes nature, notices or neglects types of relationship and phenomena, channels his reasoning, and builds the house of his consciousness (Carroll, 1956).

The first person to mention it was Robert Kaplan in his article 'Cultural Thought Patterns in Intercultural Education’ in 1966. He reinforced the weak form of relativity which says one's native language affects his thought. He also said that different languages have their own patterns of writing.

According to this model, Kaplan (1966) has distinguished different paragraph patterns unique to each language. For example, he described the structure of English composition as linear which shows the ideas and thoughts of English people. So these can approve the Whorfian hypothesis that language can have great effect on thought. So the first language can influence the writing of second language. The point that Kaplan (1966) tried to make is that “paragraph developments other than those normally regarded as desirable in English do exist” (p. 14). Although English has a different pattern, as far as Kaplan was concerned, “It is not a better nor a worse system than any other, but it is different.”(p.3). Kaplan’s (1966) article has come to be known popularly as the “doodles article”. There are many definitions available for this notion. As Connor (1996: 5) defines it: "Contrastive rhetoric examines problems in composition encountered by second language writers and attempts to explain them by referring to the rhetorical strategies of the first language". Also Kaplan wrote:

Logic (in the popular rather than the logician's sense of the word) which is the basis of rhetoric is evolved out of culture; it is not universal. Rhetoric, then, is not universal either, but varies from culture to culture and even from time to time within a given culture. It is affected by canons of taste within a given culture at a given time. (1966, 2) Kaplan believed that the first language cultural patterns of thought and writing interfere with patterns of...

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