English Teaching & Learning

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 277–295 | Cite as

Investigation into Tense-Aspect Patterns of Chinese ELF Academic Writing—a Variationist’s Approach

  • Hsuan-Yu TaiEmail author
Original Paper


English as a lingua franca (ELF) has become a crucial research topic in language teaching in the past decade. The rise of ELF has also influenced teaching practices in academic settings. From the perspective of English worldwide, the exponential growth of Chinese speakers of English and the characteristics of their English use are part of a phenomenon that needs to be paid attention to. The present study investigated the pattern of variation of one morphosyntactic feature, past tense unmarking in ELF academic writing among Chinese speakers of English. By adopting variable rule (VARBRUL) analysis, the researcher attempted to include linguistic and extralinguistic factors and generate a parsimonious model of past tense unmarking variation. The findings revealed that phonetic saliency and lexical aspect were the significant factor groups. Specifically, copulas, regular verbs, and non-state verbs could predict the uses of past tense unmarking. However, genres did not contribute to the variation. The results thus indicated that the variants were governed by universal linguistic constraints such as phonetic saliency and lexical aspect. Therefore, the variant uses can be viewed as natural and legitimate. The findings also have some pedagogical implications for assessment and ELF awareness raising pertaining to teaching in ELF contexts.


English as a lingua franca Academic writing Past tense unmarking variation 



在過去十年中,英語作為共通語 (ELF)已成為語言教學中的一個重要研究課題。英語作為共通語的興起也影響了學術環境中的教學實踐。從世界英語的視角出發,中文為母語的英語使用者大量增長及其英語使用的特點是需要注意的現象。本研究探討一個構詞句法特徵的變異形式,即英語作為學術共通語寫作中過去時態的無標記。透過變異數規則 (VARBRUL)分析,研究者將語言內和語言外的因素納入考量,建構過去式無標記的簡約變異模型。研究結果顯示,語音顯著性和詞彙時貌為顯著的因素。具體來說,be動詞,規則動詞和非靜態動詞可以預測過去式無標記的用法。然而,語體並沒有對變異造成影響。總結來說,變體受語音顯著性和詞彙時貌的語言共性限制支配。因此,變體的使用可被視為自然且合理的。研究結果對英語作為共通語背景下的語言評量和意識提升有一些教學意義。


英語作為共通語 學術寫作 過去式無標記變異 


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© National Taiwan Normal University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Chin-Yi University of TechnologyTaichungTaiwan

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