ERIC Number: ED186848
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1980-May
Reference Count: N/A
Linguistics and the Measurement of Syntactic Complexity. The Case of Raising.
One factor that contributes to the difficulty that a reader may encounter when reading a text is the syntactic complexity of the constructions used in the text. Examples of altered text constructions include the transformations of subjects of subordinate clauses, making them either the subjects or the objects of main clauses. When the conditions for such "raising to object" or "raising to subject" are examined, it is found that there are really just a small number of factors involved. For example, the noun phrase that is raised must be perceived as a good discourse topic in the discourse context where the sentence occurs. Differences of meaning among the variant forms can be accounted for as inferences from different surface structures. Extra inferred meanings are conveyed by the structures that are more complex to process according to absolute measurements of syntactic complexity. Syntactic complexity, however, is not an absolute value, because it may vary with discourse context and the function of the construction in discourse. An understanding of the relation between syntactic complexity and discourse function allows a writer to use more complex constructions without increasing text difficulty for the reader. (Author/RL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Illinois Univ., Urbana. Center for the Study of Reading.; Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Inc., Cambridge, MA.