A comparative analysis of lexical cohesion in native and non-native speaker writing: text linguistics and corpus perspectives

Yonos, Eman (2019). A comparative analysis of lexical cohesion in native and non-native speaker writing: text linguistics and corpus perspectives. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Abstract

Lexical cohesion is a major challenge for L2 writers. This study compares the frequency and function of forms of lexical cohesion in English argumentative writing by English native speakers (NSs) and Arab non-native speakers of English (NNSs) to gain insights into the specific challenges that Arab learners face. It overcomes some of the limitations of the classic models of lexical cohesion for the analysis of texts, and suggests a systematic approach to analysing lexical cohesion that is replicable across corpora. The study further explores the potential of a corpus approach to studying the functions of lexical cohesion.

The analysis identifies the frequency of ‘simple repetition’ and ‘derived repetition’ using wordlists, which pinpoint lexical cohesive networks in two corpora of argumentative essays, whereas ‘signalling nouns’ are quantified using a manual text analysis. The frequency results are interpreted by means of a text analysis to examine the paradigmatic choice of lexical cohesive relations and how they are associated at the non-linear level in both corpora. The text analysis is complemented by a corpus analysis to identify semantic preferences and prosodies of selected lexical items in both corpora. The frequency analysis showed that high frequency of lexical cohesion does not indicate good writing. The text analysis revealed that Arab speakers of English used lexically cohesive forms redundantly without using them to develop their argument across the text. The corpus analysis indicated that the Arab NNS essays diverged from the typical semantic field of a lexical item, which disrupted the cohesive structure of the writing. This study suggests that a combination of text analysis and corpus analysis provides a fuller picture of how NNSs use lexical cohesion at both the paradigmatic and syntagmatic levels. A better understanding of L2 writers’ use of cohesive devices will have implications for teaching lexical cohesion in the L2 writing classroom.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Supervisor(s):
Supervisor(s)EmailORCID
Mahlberg, Michaelam.a.mahlberg@bham.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Department of English Language and Linguistics, School of English, Drama and American and Canadian Studies
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Libyan Cultural Attaché - London
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/8944

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