The epistemic stance between the author and reader: A driving force in the cohesion of text and writing

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Abstract

This article explores the role of text cohesion in the comprehension and production of text. While most discourse models have considered the roles of the text features and the reader, the crucial role of writers' epistemic stance has not been widely considered. The thesis explored here is that levels of cohesion emerge in text based on the epistemic stance of the author relative to the reader. Evidence is provided indicating that text genres (i.e. science, narrative) show compensatory relationships between different features related to text difficulty. For example, while science texts have more challenging words than do narratives, they tend to have higher cohesion and simpler syntax. These text profiles indicate that skilled writers have an awareness of readers' needs. By contrast, less skilled writers seem to have less sensitivity to the interplay between textual dimensions and less audience awareness. For example, evidence is reviewed showing that more proficient essays are characterized by lower cohesion than less proficient essays: less skilled writers tend to use more cohesive cues (when they are likely unnecessary) than do more skilled writers. To the extent that an author understands the readers' needs, the author has a more successful epistemic stance toward the reader. This stance is partially evidenced by the crucial role of cohesion in text comprehension and writing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-595
Number of pages17
JournalDiscourse Studies
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2013

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Keywords

  • Coherence
  • cohesion
  • epistemic stance
  • reading comprehension
  • text genre
  • writing
  • writing proficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

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