Simplification in graded readers: Measuring the authenticity of graded texts

Date
2005-10
Authors
Claridge, Gillian
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University of Hawaii National Foreign Language Resource Center
Center for Language & Technology
Abstract
This study examines the characteristics and quality of simplification in graded readers as compared to those of 'normal' authentic English. Two passages from graded readers are compared with the original passages. The comparison uses a computer programme, RANGE (Nation and Heatley, 2003) to analyse the distribution of high and low frequency words in the passages. This is supported by a comparison of the texts in terms of Swaffar's (1985) characteristics of authentic message. The present study is in part a reanalysis and extension of Honeyfield's (1977) seminal study of simplification, but it reaches different conclusions. By not making the simplified versus original text comparison in absolute terms, but in terms of the respective readers, it finds that patterns of use of structure, discourse markers, redundancy, collocations, and high and low frequency vocabulary, are similar in both original and simplification. This suggests that the writing in well-written graded readers can be, for its audience, experienced as authentic and typical of 'normal' English.
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Keywords
graded readers, simplification, authenticity, high/low frequency words, random distribution, blandness, homogeneity, repetition, redundancy
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