Cohesion in text differentiation : a study of English and Arabic

  • A.M. Al-Jabr

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis sets out to investigate the role of cohesion in the organisation and processing of three text types in English and Arabic. In other words, it attempts to shed some light on the descriptive and explanatory power of cohesion in different text typologies. To this effect, three text types, namely, literary fictional narrative, newspaper editorial and science were analysed to ascertain the intra- and inter-sentential trends in textual cohesion characteristic of each text type in each language. In addition, two small scale experiments which aimed at exploring the facilitatory effect of one cohesive device (i.e. lexical repetition) on the comprehension of three English text types by Arab learners were carried out. The first experiment examined this effect in an English science text; the second covered three English text types, i.e. fictional narrative, culturally-oriented and science. Some interesting and significant results have emerged from the textual analysis and the pilot studies. Most importantly, each text type tends to utilize the cohesive trends that are compatible with its readership, reader knowledge, reading style and pedagogical purpose. Whereas fictional narratives largely cohere through pronominal co-reference, editorials and science texts derive much cohesion from lexical repetition. As for cross-language differences English opts for economy in the use of cohesive devices, while Arabic largely coheres through the redundant effect created by the high frequency of most of those devices. Thus, cohesion is proved to be a variable rather than a homogeneous phenomenon which is dictated by text type among other factors. The results of the experiments suggest that lexical repetition does facilitate the comprehension of English texts by Arab learners. Fictional narratives are found to be easier to process and understand than expository texts. Consequently, cohesion can assist in the processing of text as it can in its creation.
Date of Award1987
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorCatherine Johns-Lewis (Supervisor)


  • text differentiation
  • English
  • Arabic

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