The relationship between cohesion and coherence in English : An investigation based on some University of Zambia students' written discourse

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Simwinga, John
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This work examined cohesion and coherence in the written English produced by some undergraduate students at the University of Zambia, Lusaka. The exercise was done to test the theoretical position that there is a relationship between cohesion and coherence in English and to establish the direction, degree and causality of such a relationship. The corpus was obtained by administering a controlled discussion question to each of the one hundred and twenty subjects to be answered in essay form in forty minutes. Thirty subjects were drawn from each of the four academic levels. For each of the scripts, cohesion was scored by counting the cohesive ties of reference, substitution, conjunction, ellipsis and lexical cohesion with respect to the frequencies with which they occurred. Coherence was scored using the cohesive harmony index developed by Hasan (1986). The figures obtained for each of the two measures were used in computing the Pearson Product Moment Correlation. At each of the four academic levels, the Pearson Product Moment Correlation gave evidence of the existence of a weak, insignificant and non-casual relationship. The findings indicate that discourse incoherence results from factors other than failure or inability to use cohesive ties. The corpus is used solely to provide evidence for the existence or non-existence of the asserted relationship and the results are in no way indicative of whether University of Zambia undergraduate students write coherently or not.
Discourse analysis -- Case studies - Zambia