ERIC Number: ED377696
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1994-Sep
On the Psychological Plausibility of "Topic" as a Construct in Research on Writing.
Hong Kong Papers in Linguistics and Language Teaching, n17 p25-37 Sep 1994
A study investigated the importance of sentence topic in written discourse. Training second language writers to identify sentence topics in drafts of their written work has been proposed as a central means of helping writers achieve greater coherence. The study explored the notion that "topic" is a psychological rather than linguistic concept, and that its use in various forms of pedagogical intervention is therefore likely to be problematic. In the study, 24 native English speakers and 40 learners of English as a Second Language were asked to identify sentence topics in a scientific report. Results indicate that the notion of topic was difficult for both groups. In some instances, divergence in responses suggested that a reader-based factor such as background knowledge affects choice of sentence topic. In other instances, different responses can be attributed to the structure of the sentence, in which two noun phrases compete. It is concluded that to pursue the issue of topic as a linguistic or psychological construct would not be productive because the situation appears more complex, and the interaction of linguistic and psychological elements is of greater concern. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Opinion Papers; Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: For complete volume, see FL 022 657.