Surprise markers in applied linguistics research articles: A diachronic perspective

Lang Chen, Guangwei Hu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This paper reports on a corpus-based study of linguistic expressions of surprise (i.e., a type of attitude markers functioning as metadiscourse) in 160 applied linguistics research articles that were published in two periods of time separated by 30 years. Unlike previous research on metadiscourse, this study took a frame semantics perspective on surprise as a knowledge emotion and adopted a fine-grained, frame-based analytical framework to examine diachronic trends in the use of surprise markers and their co-occurrence with other types of metadiscourse (i.e., boosters, hedges, and self-mentions). Binary logistic regressions revealed that compared with research articles published earlier, those published more recently were 2.16 times more likely to express surprises triggered by prior knowledge, 2.37 times more likely to express surprises without providing an explanation, and 2.28 times more likely to indicate surprises without resolving them. These results can be explained in terms of the heuristic nature of surprise and the escalating pressure on academics to promote their research strategically.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102992
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Diachronic change
  • Frame semantics
  • Knowledge emotion
  • Research article
  • Surprise marker
  • The emotion of surprise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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