The Impact Of Cohesion English Language Essay

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Reading comprehension is one of the abilities which EFL learners should be prepared for. The grammar of foreign language and the knowledge of vocabulary are two important factors to reach that goal. In addition, the background knowledge of L1 can be helpful.

Goodman (1967) describes reading as a "psycholinguistic guessing game" which requires ability in choosing the fewest, most productive cues needed to generate guesses which are right the first time. As mentioned in Carrell & Eisterhold (1983, p. 554), Goodman views this act of the construction of meaning as being "an ongoing, cyclical, process of sampling from the input text, predicting, testing and confirming or revising those predictions, and sampling further".

Widdowson (1979) has discussed reading as "the process of combining textual information with the information a reader brings to a text". In this view the reading process is not simply a matter of extracting information from the text. Rather, it is viewed as a kind of dialogue between the reader and the text. Similarly, Carrell & Eisterhold (1983) state that our understanding of reading is best considered as "the interaction that occurs between the reader and the text, an interpretive process". The interactive view of the reading process can help present a more comprehensive definition of reading. In the light of this view of reading, Nassaji (2003, p.261), for example, contends:

Reading is not a single-factor process. It is a multivariate skill involving a complex combination and integration of a variety of cognitive, linguistic, and nonlinguistic skills ranging from the very basic low-level processing abilities involved in decoding print and encoding visual configuration to high-level skills of syntax, semantics, and discourse, and to still higher-order knowledge of text representation and integration of ideas with the reader's global knowledge. (A. Jahangard, A.Moeinzadeh, A.Akbari. 2012) "Without doubt, in any academic or higher learning context, reading is perceived as the most prominent academic skill for university students" (Noor, 2006, p.66). According to reading specialists, reading is not actually a skill but a process composed of many different skills. It is defined as "the ability of an individual to recognize a visual form, associate the form with a sound and / or meaning he has learned in the past, and on the basis of past experience, understand and interpret its meaning" (Kennedy, 1974, p.3). In a more recent study conducted by Shiotsu and Weir (2007), where the scope of grammar was clearly delineated as encompassing the knowledge of inflectional morphology, verb forms, and transformations, grammatical knowledge emerged as a stronger predictor of L2 reading ability.

Even though grammatical competence is presumed to be indispensable for identifying syntactic relations of sentence components, there has been little research on how readers‟ knowledge of grammar contributes to L2 reading comprehension (Shiotsu & Weir, 2007). (A. Jahangard, "et al" 2012)

One of the most important issues that EFL learners cannot be dominated on is grammar, which directly effects on text comprehension. Since it is considered as a subset of reading comprehension skill it could be deduced that grammatical cohesion is an important independent variable which affects on it.

Linguistic Units

Linguistic units such as words and phrases are combined to produce sentences in the language. It usually takes into account the meanings and functions this sentences have in the overall system of the language. (Longman dictionary of linguistics 2002: 230)

The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology and syntax, often complemented by phonetics, phonology, semantics, and pragmatics. (

The concept of cohesion is a semantic one; it refers to relations of meaning that exist within the text, and that define it as a text. Cohesion occurs where the interpretation of some element in the discourse is dependent on that of another. The one presuppose the other, in the sense that it cannot be effectively decoded except by recourse to it. When this happens, a relation of cohesion is set up, and the two elements, the presupposing and the presupposed, are thereby at least potentially integrated into a text. (Halliday and Hasan 1976/2001: 4)

According to Hoey (1991:3), cohesion may be crudely defined as the way certain words or grammatical features of a sentence can connect it to other sentences in a text. It is divided into two groups: grammatical and lexical cohesion that can be the relationship between different sentences or between different parts of a sentence. (Longman dictionary of linguistics 2002: 86) Malmkjar (2004, p.543) is of the opinion that "cohesion concerns the way in which the linguistic items of which a text is composed are meaningfully connected to each other in a sequence on the basis of the grammatical rules of the language, and formal devices signal the relationship between sentences. As we all know, words usually do not come in isolation in natural texts, and their combination into larger units is governed by the syntax of the language (Lyons, 1981). Readers need syntactic knowledge to construct an interpretation of what they read. Berman (1984, p.153) notes that "efficient foreign language readers must rely in part on syntactic devices to get at text meaning".


Types of Cohesion

Cohesion is divided into two groups: Grammatical and Lexical cohesion.



Exophora referential devices can create cohesion, mean while Endophora ones cannot.


is used to describe generics or abstracts without ever identifying them (in contrast to anaphora and cataphora, which do identify the entity and thus are forms of endophora): e.g. rather than introduce a concept, the writer refers to it by a generic word such as "everything". The prefix "exo" means "outside", and the persons or events referred to in this manner will never be identified by the writer. Halliday and Hasan considered exophoric reference as not cohesive, since it does not tie two elements together into a text.


Endophoric references are subsets of grammatical cohesion which are divided into two groups:


Occurs when the writer refers back to someone or something that has been previously identified, to avoid repetition. Some examples: replacing "the taxi driver" with the pronoun "he" or "two girls" with "they". Another example can be found in formulas such as "as stated previously" or "the aforementioned".


Is the opposite of anaphora: a reference forward as opposed to backward in the discourse. Something is introduced in the abstract before it is identified. For example: "Here he comes, our award-winning host... it's John Doe!"


Ellipsis is another cohesive device. It happens when, after a more specific mention, words are omitted when the phrase needs to be repeated.

A simple conversational example:

(A) Where are you going?

(B) To town.

The full form of B's reply would be: "I am going to town".

A simple written example: The younger child was very outgoing, the older much more reserved.

The omitted words from the second clause are "child" and "was".



A word is not omitted, as in ellipsis, but is substituted for another, more general word. For example, "Which ice-cream would you like?" - "I would like the pink one" where "one" is used instead of repeating "ice-cream." This works in a similar way to pronouns, which replace the noun. For example, 'Ice-cream' is a noun, and its pronoun could be 'It'. 'I dropped the ice-cream because it was dirty'. - Replacing the noun for a pronoun. "I dropped the green ice-cream. It was the only one I had'. - The second sentence contains the pronoun (It), and the substitution (one). One should not mix up the two because they both serve different purposes: one to link back and one to replace.



One or Ones are the terms most commonly used for nominal substitution in English.(

Substitute item can only substitute for the head of the

Nominal group that is the substituted item, e.g.,

Can you give me the big table cloth? - You mean the one with the red flowers?

Substitute item does not have to have the same syntactic function, e.g.,

I only brought the red wine. The white one must be in the


Substitute item does not have to preserve the grammatical features of the substituted item, e.g.,

Cherry ripe, cherry ripe, ripe I cry.

Full and fair ones - come and buy.

• Functions of nominal substitution

• Differentiation: the red wine - the white one

• It follows that the nominal substitute is always accompanied by some modifying element: the white one, the one with the flowers

• Semantically, given the set of things that is denoted in the original instance, what is being designated by the substitute item is a new subset

• Distinction of substitute one from other functions of one

• Personal pronoun, e.g., One never knows what's going to happen.

• Cardinal number, e.g., He made one very good point.

• Determiner, e.g., Are there lions in those hills?

Yes, we saw one [lion] on the way back.

(elliptical! Cf. Halliday & Hasan, 1976:101) (


Verbal substitution is realized through an auxiliary verb (do, be, have), sometimes together with another substitute term such as so or the same. (

Do substitutes the lexical verb or the predicator (i.e.,

most of the verbal group minus auxiliaries)

Do is always in final position


a) … the words did not come the same as they used

to do.

b) 'I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!'

in a) do does not function cohesively, however:

substitution within one clause!; in b), do is cohesive

Other functions of do that are not cohesive: full verb

(do well, that will do), auxiliary (I don't like this cake), ellipsis (Does she sing? Yes, she does.)



Substitution may extend over more than the head of the substituted item


Is there going to be an earthquake? - It says so.

Three environments in which clausal substitution takes place:

• reported clauses; e.g., '…if you've seen them so often, of course you know what they're like.' 'I believe so', said


• condition; e.g., Everyone seems to think he's guilty. If so, no doubt he'll offer to resign.

• Modality; e.g., 'May I give you a slice?' she said, taking

up the knife and fork, and looking from one Queen to the other. 'Certainly not,' the Red Queen said,...


1.4. Conjunction and Transitions

Conjunction sets up a relationship between two clauses. The most basic but least cohesive is the conjunction and. Transitions are conjunctions that add cohesion to text and include then, however, in fact, and consequently. Conjunctions can also be implicit and deduced from correctly interpreting the text. (

1.4.1. Coordinating conjunctions

Are conjunctions which connect two equal parts of a sentence.  The most common ones are and, or, but, and so which are used in the following ways:

And is used to join or add words together in the sentence They ate and drank.

Or is used to show choice or possibilities as in the sentence He will be here on Monday or Tuesday.

But is used to show opposite or conflicting ideas as in the sentence She is small but strong.

So is used to show result as in the sentence I was tired so I went to sleep.

1.4.2. Subordinating conjunctions

Connect two parts of a sentence that are not equal and will be discussed more in another class.  For now, you should know some of the more common subordinating conjunctions such as:

after                before                unless

although         if                        until

as                   since                  when

because          than                   while

Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions that work together.  In the sentence Both Jan and Meg are good swimmers, both . . .and are correlative conjunctions.  The most common correlative conjunctions are:

both . . .and either . . . or

not only . . . but also neither . . . nor


Cohesion might exist within or between sentences in a text (Richards, J., Platt, J., & Platt, H., 1987).

Widdowson (1993) defines it in terms of the distinction that is made between the illocutionary act and the proposition. In his view (P. 52), propositions, when linked together, form a "text" whereas illocutionary acts, when related to each other, create different kinds of "discourse". Cohesion is the grammatical and lexical relationship between the different elements of a text. This may be the relationship between different sentences or between different parts of a sentence (Richards & Schmidt, 2002). Malmkjar (2004: 543) defines cohesion as "the way in which linguistic items are meaningfully connected to each other sequentially on the basis of grammatical rules".

According to the given information, grammatical cohesion as a linguistic term should be considered important in text comprehension.


• The cohesive effect achieved by vocabulary (thus established at the lexico-grammatical level); reflecting the field of discourse

• examples:

(1) Did you know that the chancellor was expected to resign? - Yes. It seems to have made no impression on the man.

(2) Can you recommend somewhere to stay in Brussels?

I've never been to the place.

(3) I went to Brisbane to see my great-aunt. The poor old girl's getting forgetful these days.


• appear in the context of REFERENCE, i.e., they have the same referent as the presupposed item

• But these need not be the case: „There is cohesion between between any pair of lexical items that stand to each other in some recognizable

lexicosemantic relation" (Halliday & Hasan,1976:285)

• examples:

Why does this little boy have to wriggle all the time?

a) Other boys don't wriggle.

b) Boys always wriggle.

c) Good boys don't wriggle.

d) Boys should be kept out of here.

• analysis:

a) no coreference; possibly: comparative reference

b) weak relation of coreference by implication and no reference item (cf. they)

c) no implication of inclusion nor a form of reference

d) shows that it's not the repetition of wriggle that creates the cohesion.

2.1.1. Repetition

There was a large mushroom growing near her, about the same height as herself; [ ] She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge of the mushroom,...


Accordingly ... I took leave and turned to the ascent of the peak. The climb is perfectly easy.

2.1.3. Hyponymy

a. Specific

They travelled a lot when they were younger. Usually, they didn't leave without sleeping bags.

b. General

The rose is typically associated with love. The tulip is the messenger of spring.

2.1.4. Meronymy

a. Part

He could not bend his index finger since.

b. Whole

His fingers were fine. But he lost his thumb.

2.1.5 Antonymy

They left London on the 6 o'clock train. Having arrived

at Manchester, they took a taxi to the hotel.


The mutual expectancy between lexical items

• Firth (1957:196): „One of the meanings of night is its colloctability with dark, and of dark, of course, collocation with night. "

• Not only within sentences, but across sentences: predictability of discourse(


Cohesion and Semantic System

Conclusion: Cohesion is a part of text forming component in the linguistics system. It links together the elements that are structurally unrelated through the dependence of one on the other for its interpretation. Without cohesion the semantic system cannot be effectively activated at all. (W.A.Gilany)

Cohesion and Syntactic Knowledge

Readers need syntactic knowledge to construct an interpretation of what they read. Berman (1984, p.153) notes that "efficient foreign language readers must rely in part on syntactic devices to get at text meaning".

In a more recent study conducted by Shiotsu and Weir (2007), where the scope of grammar was clearly delineated as encompassing the knowledge of inflectional morphology, verb forms, and transformations, grammatical knowledge emerged as a stronger predictor of L2 reading ability.

Even though grammatical competence is presumed to be indispensable for identifying syntactic relations of sentence components, there has been little research on how readers‟ knowledge of grammar contributes to L2 reading comprehension (Shiotsu & Weir, 2007).

Understanding of Specific Cohesive Items and General Reading Comprehension Ability

Many studies on first (L1) and second language (L2) acquisition have shown a strong relationship between cohesion, in general, and reading comprehension. Chapman (1982) in a study with 1355 children, ages 8, 10, and 13, found that children's perception of cohesion was a significant element in reading comprehension in L1.

Rather than "retreat from print", secondary school teachers should pay attention to the cohesive property of texts when trying to help students bridge the gap from "learning to read" to "reading to learn". Also, Bensoussan (1984) showed that difficulties in processing reading texts by ESL college students are not limited to lexical items but are related to connections between ideas in sentences and paragraphs. Another study by Hadley (1987) found a strong relationship between elementary school children's understanding of specific cohesive items and general reading comprehension ability. Hardly showed a significant relationship between the comprehension of the selected anaphoric personal items and ability in reading.

Furthermore, the relationship between reading comprehension and specific cohesive ties, such as anaphora has been investigated by many researchers. Barnitz (1980) demonstrated that structures with forward reference were easier to comprehend than those with backward reference. The results of a study done by Gottsdanker-Willekens (1981) showed that the use of anaphoric expressions will interfere with the reading comprehension of eighth graders. Monson (1982) in a study about the effect of type and direction on comprehension of anaphoric relationships indicated that substitution/ellipsis structures were most difficult for all age groups and that referent structures were easiest for all except the 7-year-olds who found lexical structures easiest to comprehend. Results also indicated that all age groups except 7-year-olds found forward structures easier to comprehend than backward structures. Similarly, Demel (1990) found that misunderstanding of co-referential ties reflects a misunderstanding of the descriptive phrases to which the pronouns refer.