A Constrastive Rhetoric Study: The Placement of Paragraph Thesis Statements in English and Chinese Research Articles


Hui-Yu Hsiung

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


Literature and Languages

Date of Award

Fall 2014


This dissertation investigates cross-linguistic differences in the placement of thesis paragraphs statements in academic writing in English and Chinese. The study is based on the analysis of a corpus of 120 articles (60 in English and 60 in Chinese) in similar disciplines and time frames. Five paragraphs were extracted from the articles for a total of 600 paragraphs and descriptive statistics were used to analyze the distribution of the thesis statements. The results show that Chinese and English differ in regard to the placement of the thesis within the paragraph. English paragraphs overwhelmingly place the thesis in the first sentence, whereas Chinese paragraphs show much greater variation. In Chinese the thesis appears most frequently in first position, but the second most frequent position is in the last sentence of the paragraph. A non-indifferent number of Chinese paragraphs show the thesis in second, third and fourth position as well, unlike English. The implications of this study and suggestions for further research are also discussed.


Salvatore Attardo

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Rhetoric and Composition