A Comparative Study of Personal and Impersonal Meta-discourse in Academic Writing


1 English Department, University of Tarbiat Modarres,Tehran, Iran

2 University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the use of personal and impersonal metadiscourse (MD) by Persian- and English-speaking writers in academic writing. For this purpose, 80 abstracts were selected (40 written by Persian-speaking writers and 40 by English-speaking ones) and analyzed. These abstracts were selected from endocrinology and metabolism journals published during 2010 to 2012. The results of the study indicated that Persian speakers used more impersonal MD while the use of personal MD was higher in English speakers’ written text. Among the four subcategories of impersonal MD, code glosses and references to text/code were used more by Persian speakers, while English speakers used more Phoric markers and discourse labels in their writing. The use of first person plural we as a type of personal MD was more frequent than the first person singular I, and in comparison with Persian speakers, English speakers used nouns as a type of personal MD more in their writing.