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Using Grice's Cooperative Principle and its maxims for analyzing coherence : a study on academic writing

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2004
Özhan, Didem
Coherence in written discourse is considered to be a complex and a fuzzy concept but it is, at the same time, a crucial feature of any well-written text. The present study aims to contribute to the field of the teaching of the concept of coherence by proposing an approach to analyzing coherence in students̕ essays in the context of the Department of Modern Languages (DML) at Middle East Technical University (METU) and to the teaching of the concept. The study suggests an approach involving Gricean maxims for analyzing coherence in freshman student argumentative essays at DML at METU. In order to achieve this aim, 50 essays were rated for coherence by two raters and the same essays were analyzed by the researcher for maxim violations. Next, the correlation between the raters̕ judgments and the number of maxim violations in each essay and the correlation between raters̕ judgments and the number of violations for each maxim in each essay was calculated. The findings revealed a significant negative correlation between the variables and a negative correlation between the violation of Quantity maxim most frequently and the raters̕ judgments. The findings suggest that Gricean maxims can be used as a tool for analyzing coherence in student argumentative essays. The implications of this finding for the analysis of the essays, for the teaching, learning and assessment processes are discussed.