The Role of Lexical Cohesion in Writing Quality

Hmoud Alotaibi


The idea of whether repetition has any relation with the writing quality of the text has remained an issue that intrigues a number of scholars in linguistics and in writing studies. Michael Hoey (1991), Halliday and Hasan (1976) are two prominent works in presenting detailed and thoughtful analysis of repetition occurrences in the text. This study uses a model of lexical cohesion proposed by Witte and Faigley (1981) which itself is based on the taxonomies of cohesive ties presented by Halliday and Hasan (1976).  The model deals with lexical cohesion and its subclasses, namely, repetition (same type, synonym, near-synonym, super-ordinate item, and general item) and collocation. The corpus includes five argumentative essays written by students in the field of English language literature. Five teaching assistants were asked to rank the papers on a five-point scale based on their perception of the papers’ writing quality. The results showed that the paper that received the lowest rating in terms of the writing quality was the one that included the largest number of repetition occurrences of the same type. The study concludes by arguing that repetition may not be considered as monolithic, and suggests that every type of repetition needs to be examined individually in order to determine what enhances and what deteriorates the writing quality.



Lexical cohesion; Writing Quality; Repetition; Argumentative writing

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