Computer-aided categorisation and quantification of connectives in English and Arabic (based on newspaper text corpora)
This study presents a detailed contrastive description of the textual functioning of connectives in English and Arabic. Particular emphasis is placed on the organisational force of connectives and their role in sustaining cohesion. The description is intended as a contribution for a better understanding of the variations in the dominant tendencies for text organisation in each language. The findings are expected to be utilised for pedagogical purposes, particularly in improving EFL teaching of writing at the undergraduate level. The study is based on an empirical investigation of the phenomenon of connectivity and, for optimal efficiency, employs computer-aided procedures, particularly those adopted in corpus linguistics, for investigatory purposes. One important methodological requirement is the establishment of two comparable and statistically adequate corpora, also the design of software and the use of existing packages and to achieve the basic analysis. Each corpus comprises ca 250,000 words of newspaper material sampled in accordance to a specific set of criteria and assembled in machine readable form prior to the computer-assisted analysis. A suite of programmes have been written in SPITBOL to accomplish a variety of analytical tasks, and in particular to perform a battery of measurements intended to quantify the textual functioning of connectives in each corpus. Concordances and some word lists are produced by using OCP. Results of these researches confirm the existence of fundamental differences in text organisation in Arabic in comparison to English. This manifests itself in the way textual operations of grouping and sequencing are performed and in the intensity of the textual role of connectives in imposing linearity and continuity and in maintaining overall stability. Furthermore, computation of connective functionality and range of operationality has identified fundamental differences in the way favourable choices for text organisation are made and implemented.