Modal Auxiliaries as Stance-Taking Devices in Linguistics Research Articles: A Functional Contrastive Analysis

Fatemeh Moafian, Amrollah Talati-Baghsiahi, Nahid Yarahmadzehi


The current paper is to report a study on modal auxiliaries as stance-taking devices applied in English linguistics research articles by native and Persian non-native writers. In doing so, 20 (10 in each group) research articles were selected. The corpora were detected for the occurrences of modal auxiliaries both mechanically and functionally. The obtained data was analyzed and the frequency and proportionate distribution of the individual modals with respect to each other were determined. The results uncovered some similarities and differences between the two groups of writers. Both groups of writers used modal verbs in the epistemic functions more than their deontic ones. Moreover, they preferred hedging strategies to boosting ones. Native writers, however, used modal verbs far more frequently than nonnative ones. The proportion of modal verbs did not follow a similar pattern in the two groups of texts. The findings offered some implications for English language education system contributors including material developers, lecturers, teachers and researchers. The interpretations and implications of the study were discussed with respect to the obtained results.