USE OF PRAGMATIC COHESION CUES TO RESOLVE DEGREES OF PRONOUN REFERENCE AMBIGUITY IN READING (ESL, BILINGUAL).
AuthorFREEMAN, DAVID EDWARD.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe psycholinguistic theory of reading developed by Kenneth Goodman, which closely parallels the analysis-by-synthesis model of listening comprehension proposed by Cooper and Stevens, claims that readers use grapho-phonic, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic cues to construct meaningful texts through cycles of sampling, inference, prediction, confirmation or disconfirmation and integration. Pragmatic cues are supplied in part by pronoun reference, which adds cohesion to texts. Evidence to support the psycholinguistic theory of reading comes from miscues, cases during oral reading when there is a difference between the reader's observed response and the expected response. The analysis of pronoun miscues provides insights into the text features and strategies readers use to assign reference. Five text features readers use to assign pronoun reference are preceding noun phrases, preceding pronouns, self-reference or direct address in dialog, the dialog carrier position, and paragraph-initial "I". Readers make significantly fewer miscues at sites where these cues are available than at other sites. For any story certain text features provide less ambiguous cues than others. However, a comparison of two stories suggests that there is no absolute hierarchy of pragmatic cues. Rather, the strength of a text feature depends on how it is realized in a particular text. Readers sometimes overgeneralize normally-successful strategies for assigning pronoun reference. Two types of overgeneralization are pronoun maintenance and topic maintenance, using a preceding pronoun or noun to assign reference when that pronoun or noun is not co-referential with the pronoun for which reference is being assigned. Patterns of correction of pronoun miscue reveal readers' tentativeness and scope of focus, two factors important for reading proficiency. Proficient readers are tentative and maintain a wide scope of focus. Correction of pronoun miscues, which frequently are disconfirmed pragmatically, requires a wide focus. In order to develop appropriate strategies for assigning reference, readers need frequent opportunities to transact with whole, cohesive texts. In addition, if readers are encouraged to read for meaning and given the chance to self-correct, they can develop the tentativeness and wide scope of focus characteristic of proficient readers.