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Experimental study of the communicative division of the text

The latest investigations encourage further contemplations about the communicative nature of the text. To verify the ideas suggested by F. Danes experimentally the scholars of St Petersburg’s State University studied the semantic structure of the texts, built on the basis of two typical structures – chain and bush-like ones.

In the text of a chain-like structure the thought develops successively (consecutively) from one utterance to another. This type corresponds to F. Danes’s simple linear progression: the rheme of the first utterance is themalized and serve as a theme of the second utterance, etc. In other words, it is a text with consecutively changing subjects.

In the text of a bush-like structure the theme of the first utterance is connected by distant relations with all other utterances that characterize it in detail. This type corresponds to F. Danes’s progression with a thorough theme. A text of a bush-like structure is the text with the only subject. The elements of the semantic structure of the first utterance are connected by associative ties with the elements of other utterances that reveal the qualities of the initial object.

In one experiment, two texts different in structure (chain and bush-like), but similar lexically were compared.

The results of the experiment were the following: the perception of words in the text of a bush-like structure came to 81%, while in the text of a chain structure it totalled 52%.

In another experiment which dealt with peculiarities of perception of sentences of chain and bush-like structure the results were as follows: perception of sentences in the text of a bush-like structure came to 56%, while in the text of a chain structure – 36%. As we may see, the role of the context appeared to be different: a bush-like structure made perception better while a chain structure made perception worse. Thus, a bush-like structure is not only better for text perception, but it also creates ‘positive context’, contributing to adequate apprehension.

So, F. Danes’s abstract ideas proved to be effective under experimental conditions as well. This fact makes further study of the communicative structure of a text a quite urgent and topical task.

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One thought on “Experimental study of the communicative division of the text

  1. This is a very intriguing study, both theoretically and practically – an author can take it into account planning their own texts. There can be far-going implications for contrastive research as well, especially if further details are provided – like what ‘perception of words’ and ‘perception of sentences’ means and how it can be measured.

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