Monday, 9 November, 2020 - 14:00

How much do discourse connectives matter in text coherence? Psycholinguistic experiments on implicit discourse relations in Czech

Šárka Zikánová (ÚFAL MFF UK)

A text is a linguistic structure, the coherence of which is based on a number of relations of various kinds. One important device of coherence are discourse relations, which semantically connect clauses, sentences or larger text segments. Discourse relations express meanings such as conjunction, opposition, concession, specification, exemplification, etc. Cf. the example: The situation in online education is improving. For example, teaching platforms are being unified. [EXEMPLIFICATION]. These relations can be expressed by discourse connectives (and, but, though, on the other hand etc.), or they are implicit, not expressed.
In our research, we address the question to which extent the presence or absence of a discourse connective affects the comprehensibility of a text. Are there types of relations and contexts in which connectives cannot be dropped? Do these contexts have any features in common?
The research was conducted using two methods, (a) an analysis of existing texts, for the whole range of discourse relations, and (b) psycholinguistic experiments, in which the respondents were presented with artificial texts. The experiments focused on contrastive relations (confrontation, concession) and temporal relations (synchrony, precedence-succession).

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