A Contrastive Discourse Study on English and Chinese Public Documents in Singapore

Chan Tsui Shan, Stella

English Language Honours AE, NIE, 2001


This Academic Exercise aims to investigate how official English and Chinese pamphlets of appeal differ in the local context through a detailed study of structural and discourse differences. This study begins by introducing the framework of sociosemiotic theory. In studying structural differences, the generic structure of the pamphlets is examined in relation to the notions of deductiveness and inductiveness which are usually associated with the rhetoric of English and Chinese. Sociocultural conventions and interpersonal relationships which underlie the communication between writers and readers are also surveyed. The results show that the generic structures of English and Chinese pamphlets do not differ in any notable way. More significantly, both deductive and inductive styles are adopted in the pamphlets of the two languages. Findings also show that writers draw upon different cultural assumptions to construct the appeals. Where interpersonal relationships are concerned, English pamphlets contain a lower degree of politeness, formality and a closer social distance are observed in Chinese pamphlets.