ERIC Number: ED395526
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992
Seeking a Pedagogically Useful Understanding of Given-New: An Analysis of Native-Speaker Errors in Written Discourse.
Pragmatics and Language Learning, v3 p130-143 1992
Two samples of college student writing, paragraphs from freshman compositions, are analyzed for presence or absence of two characteristics of literate prose, decontextualization and autonomy. Writing is decontextualized and autonomous when whatever is needed for its comprehension is included in the words of the text, and comprehension is not dependent on context or verbal cues, as is often the case with speech. It is argued that the writer's failure to decontextualize is, more specifically, due to violations of the constraints of the organization of given-new information, but that in order to understand this, a new conception of this organization is needed. Two additional discourse organizing principles are identified: (1) all new information must be to some extent given, and the more given information is the more felicitous information; and (2) all discourse constituents are not constrained by equally stringent givenness conditions. Examples are offered and discussed, and these new principles are applied to the texts in question. (MSE)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Journal Articles
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: For complete volume, see FL 023 890.