Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, Vol 7, No 2 (2010)

English 'if-clauses': A corpus-based genre analysis of their incidence, ordering and pragmatic effects

Shu Pin Nall, Timothy Nall
Issued Date: 8 Nov 2011


Utilizing binomial and chi-square testing on a pool of representative genres, we identify and discuss variations in the distributional patterns between initial and final if-clauses within and across genres. The frequency of if-clauses in each genre as well as contextual factors that might influence the frequency and appropriateness of the placement of if-clauses are also taken into consideration. In contrast to the consensus view, we found a rhetorically motivated preference for final if-clauses in three of the genres examined, while in three others these two clause types are equally distributed. There is substantial variation along lines of communicative purpose, since some written genres pattern more closely with spoken genres rather than other written ones. Written genres (especially the press genres) tend to have higher frequencies of final if-clauses than spoken genres – but also have significantly greater variation in the frequency of their relative use. Mediums of communication may not be as important as communicative intent. In some genres, female users tend to use statistically significantly more final if-clauses than male speakers. In business correspondence, sellers tend to use statistically significantly more final if-clauses than buyers.

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DOI: 10.1558/japl.v7i2.211


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