ERIC Number: ED204718
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980
Linguistic Complexity as a Factor in Comprehension Difficulty.
Bousquet, Robert J.
Many factors influence the comprehension of a linguistic act by a listener or reader. Some, such as maturity, background, and interests of the decoder are nonlinguistic; others, such as the vocabulary and complexity of the morphological and syntactical structures are linguistic in nature. A review of the literature reveals that while studies have been able to correlate readability formulas and T-units with comprehension difficulty, they have major theoretical shortcomings in that they concentrate almost exclusively on the surface structure of sentences. Deep structure research based on generative-transformational grammar generally reveals that as sentences deviate from kernels, they become more difficult to comprehend. However, no definitive hierarchy of linguistic complexity has been validated yet. Many studies have been hampered in that they were only concerned with assessing the relationship of linguistic complexity to literal comprehension and were using isolated sentences. Other studies created testing situations that were divorced from the normal listening and reading acts of daily life. As a result, it is not possible to synthesize the results of the various studies into a definitively sound, empirically verifiable whole. (Author/FL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Table II may be marginally legible due to broken print.