Teachers College, Columbia University Working Papers in TESOL & Applied Linguistics, Vol 5, No 2 (2005)

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The Role of Connectives in Text Comprehension

Dafna Ben-Anath

Abstract


The 2005 Applied Linguistics and Language Education (APPLE) Award Winning M.A. Research Paper in Applied Linguistics

Text comprehension results in a cognitive representation of meaning conveyed by the propositions that constitute a text. A variety of linguistic and cognitive factors affect a reader’s ability to construct such meaning, that is, to identify appropriate and coherent relations between the propositions. This literature review examines the role of linguistic devices such as connectives in facilitating text comprehension. Theoretical frameworks on the nature of connectives will be presented followed by a review of empirical studies that examined their function in the construction of coherent relations. These studies reveal multiple perspectives to account for the means by which connectives operate to achieve their effects. A discussion of the findings support a cognitive view whereby connectives function as procedural devices by constraining the psychological context that is brought to bear upon comprehension processes.

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