Reading and Writing

, Volume 15, Issue 7–8, pp 739–757 | Cite as

The impact of relational markers on expository text comprehension in L1 and L2

  • Liesbeth DegandEmail author
  • Ted Sanders


This article reports on an experimentinvestigating the impact of causal discoursemarkers (connectives and signaling phrases) onthe comprehension of expository texts in L1 andL2. Although several psycholinguistic studieshave investigated the impact of connectives andlexical markers of text structure oncomprehension (i.e. off-line), there is noconsensus on the exact effect of explicitdiscourse markers on text understanding; threedifferent findings are reported in theliterature: markers would have a facilitatingeffect, an interfering effect or no effect atall. The first goal of this article is toclarify this problem of contradicting resultsby limiting the scope of the study to causalrelations, and to one specific text type:expository texts. Furthermore, the naturalnessof the experimental texts was controlled,readers did not need specific backgroundknowledge to understand the texts and theexperimental method consisted of open answerquestioning. Our second goal is to investigateto what extent a supposed effect of linguisticmarking depends on readers proficiency in afirst or second language.The experiment consisted in the reading of short expository texts in two languages, Dutchand French, which both functioned as L1 and L2.The results indicate that readers benefit fromthe presence of causal relational markers bothin L1 and in L2. Implications for (theoriesof) text processing are discussed, as well asfor the further insights in readingcomprehension in L1 and L2.

Causality Coherence relations Connectives Discourse markers Reading comprehension Second language reading Text processing 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  2. 2.Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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