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ERIC Number: ED190987
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979-May
Reference Count: 0
The Role of Presupposed and Focal Information in Integrating Sentences.
Yekovich, Frank R.; And Others
Two comprehension-time experiments were conducted to identify factors affecting the comprehensibility of written materials. The subjects (a total of 52 college students for the two experiments) were presented with pairs of sentences--"context" sentences followed by "target" sentences--and were asked to relate the content of the target sentences to that of the context sentences. In each pair of sentences, a noun phrase from the context sentence was repeated in the target sentence, and the linguistic markings of the noun phrases were varied across sentences to identify the phrases as either "old" (presupposed) information or "new" (focal) information. It was found that comprehension times were (1) fastest for focal-presupposed combinations (in which the noun phrase was introduced as focal in the context sentence and as presupposed in the target sentence), (2) intermediate for focal-focal and presupposed-presupposed pairs, and (3) slowest for presupposed-focal combinations. These results were obtained when the proximity of the repeated phrase was controlled (as in the first experiment) and when target sentences were in both active and passive voices (as in the second experiment). (Author/GT)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Army Research Inst. for the Behavioral and Social Sciences, Alexandria, VA.