A comparison of English and Chinese written discourse and its implications for teaching
This thesis sets out to compare paragraph progressIOn of English and Chinese expository writing in order to verify the validity of Kaplan's claim that Chinese essays are organised differently from English ones. Different from most existing work, this project uses quantitative data analysis methods with samples selected at random in order to make the results more objective and persuasIve. Based on Kaplan's concept of the discourse bloc, each sample passage is segregated into a number of functional meamng units. The second step is to determine the relationship between each unit and the theme of the passage they appear in by using the list of relation definitions devised by Mann and Thompson as part of their Rhetorical Structure Theory. This project aims to achieve two goals. One, from a more practical angle, is to conduct a contrastive study of Chinese and English at rhetorical level so as to improve the teaching and learning of Chinese by English speakers. The other is to carry out an experiment on the application of Rhetorical Structure Theory at discourse level. The results have shown no existence of "illogical" information in Chinese writing as observed by Kaplan. The conclusion is that Chinese and English expository writing, as represented by the samples selected from newspaper editorials, are organised in very similar ways.