Comparative study of theme functions in spanish and english academic essays

Pérez de Cabrera, Lorena Beatriz
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Editorial Universidad Don Bosco
While Spanish and English have been studied by researchers in a variety of second language situations, little research has been done comparing Spanish/English theme/rheme structures and none has compared how the two languages use theme structures in academic essays. This study analyzes the types of themes that appear in independent clauses in a sample of academic essays selected from two Spanish and English composition textbooks. Seven Spanish essays and seven English essays, all of which were written by professional writers, were matched for genre; the first 200 words of each essay (adjusted for clause completion) were examined to determine the number of independent clauses and the types of theme used. The results show the English essays had a higher number of independent clauses and thus a higher number of theme structures than did the Spanish essays. In addition, while both the Spanish and the English essays use topical themes in each independent clause, higher number of instances of implicit subjects, personal pronouns, and processes used to announce the theme of the clause. The differences indicated in this study suggest that Spanish/English and English/Spanish students would benefit from an explicit comparison of theme/rheme structures in order to better understand how information can be delivered in their target language.
Palabras clave
Científica , Spanish , English , Theme , Rheme , Compare , Contrast
Pérez, L. (2012). Comparative study of theme functions in spanish and english academic essays. Revista Científica, 1 (1), Época 2, pp. 55-70.