A Study of Cohesive Markers Used in L1 and L2 Essay Writing: Translation versus Direct Composition

Anongnad Petchprasert


This study presents a comparative analysis of frequency rates of cohesive markers used in Thai and English written texts of graduate students who were speakers of Thai. In addition, the analysis describes the use of cohesive markers found in L1 and L2 essays with direct writing and translation. The effects of L1 transfers and participants’ metalinguistic awareness were also investigated. Specifically, the study focuses on the frequency rates of uses of cohesion based on Halliday and Hasan’s (1976) cohesion analysis such as reference, substitution, ellipsis, lexical cohesion, and conjunction in written texts. The purpose of the study is to determine the specific differences and similarities in the uses of cohesive markers in the essays.

The quantitative analysis of the cohesive markers found in the English direct writing essays indicates that writers employ significantly higher frequency rates of personal reference and demonstratives than those in translation. Regarding translation method, the writers tend to rely on a repertoire of L1 rhetorical organization and language features in constructing the L2 written texts. The preponderance of cohesive markers used in L2 texts reflects the writers’ attempts to construct ideas flow with the limitations of syntactic and lexical range. 

Full Text:



Berman, R. (1994). Learners' transfer of writing skills between languages. TESL Canada Journal, 12(1), 29-46.

Chanawongsa, W. (1986). Cohesion in Thai. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Georgetown University, the United States of America.

Dueraman, B. (2007). Cohesion and coherence in English essays written by Malaysian and Thai medical students. Proceedings from Southern Thailand English Language Teaching/Cultural Change Conference.

Faigley, L. & Witte, S. (1981). Analyzing revision. College Composition and Communication, 32(4), 400-414.

Friedlander, A. (1990). Composing in English: effects of a first language on writing in English as a second language. In B. Kroll (Ed.), Second language writing: Research insights for the classroom (pp. 109–125). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Godó, A. (2008). Cross-cultural aspects of academic writing: a study of Hungarian and North-American college students L1 argumative essays. International Journal of English Studies, 8(2),65-111.

Halliday, M.A.K. and Hasan, R. 1976. Cohesion in English. London: Longman.

Hinkel, E. (2001). Matters of cohesion in L2 academic texts. Applied Language Learning, 12(2), 111-132.

Jones, S., & Tetroe, J. (1987). Composing in a second language. In A. Matsuhashi (Ed.), Writing in real time: Modeling production processes (pp.34–57). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Kobayashi, H. & Rinnert, C. (1992), Effects of first language on second language writing: translation versus direct composition. Language Learning, 42: 183–209. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-1770.1992.tb00707.x

Lado, R. (1957). Linguistics across cultures. Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press.

Lifang, Z. (2008). Comparison of two writing processes: direct versus translated composition. Cross-cultural Communication, 4(1), 8-17.

McCarthey, S.; Guo, Y; Cummins, S. (2005). Understanding changes in elementary Mandarin students’ L1 and L2 writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14, 71-104.

Mohamed-Sayidina, A. (2010). Transfer of L1 cohesive devices and transition words into L2 academic texts: the case of Arab students. RELC Journal, 41(3), 253-266.

Petchprasert, A. (2012). Feedback in second language teaching and learning. US-China Foreign Language, 10(4), 1112-1120.

Puprasert, N. (2007). A comparative study of English and Thai cohesion in news articles. Unpublished master’s thesis. Kasetsart University, Bangkok, Thailand.

Tangkiengsirisin’s (2010). Promoting cohesion in EFL expository writing: a study of graduate students in Thailand. International Journal of Arts and Sciences, 3(16). 1-34.

Ting, Y. H. (1996). Looping forward: Drafting in my own language. ELT Journal, 50(2), 135–142.

Uzawa, K. (1996). Second language learners’ processes of L1 writing, L2 writing and translation from L1 into L2. Journal of Second Language Writing, 5, 271–294.

van Weijen, Daphne et al. (2009). L1 use during L2 writing: an empirical study of a complex phenomenon. Journal of Second Language Writing, 18(4), 235-250.

Wang, L. (2003). Switching to first language among writers with differing second-language proficiency. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12, 347–375.

Wang, W., & Wen, Q. (2002). L1 use in the L2 composing process: An exploratory study of 16 Chinese EFL writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 11, 225–246.

Wolfersberger, M. (2003). L1 to L2 writing process and strategy transfer: A look at lower proficiency writers. TESL-EJ: Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language, 7(2), 1–15.

Xiaoyan, Z. (2007). The facilitating effect of translation on EFL (English as a foreign language) writing. CELEA Journal, 30(4), 49-61.


  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2247

ISSN : 0128-5157