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Propositional Content and Interpretation in Expository Text

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Title: Propositional Content and Interpretation in Expository Text
Authors: Jacobs, Roderick
Issue Date: 1989
Abstract: What is it about expository prose that makes it harder to follow than most spoken language? SPEECH we acquire naturally, regardless of instruction. Skill in the production and comprehension of written language-TEXT we'll call it-takes years to achieve, along with academic instruction, and, even then, success is too often incomplete. Additionally, the gap between production and comprehension seems far wider for text than for speech.
It should be apparent that we are discussing here not the prose of personal letters or newspaper advertisements but the kinds of complex expository prose found most commonly in academic texts, in the more prestigious newspapers and magazines, and in legal, medical, and business writing for nonspecialist readers. Of course, the assumed readership is not really nonspecialist. Students in a high school social studies class or a college sociology course are assumed to have achieved some appropriate level of sophistication both in the subject-matter and the language generally used to communicate it. But, leaving aside specialized content and vocabulary, what other factors might be involved? What properties of text make it harder to process than speech?
Pages/Duration: 19 pages
Appears in Collections:Working Papers

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