The effect of syntactic simplification on reading EST texts as L1 and L2

J.M. Ulijn, J.B. Strother

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There has been a considerable suggestion in the literature that syntactic adaptation of a text would simplify it. This empirical study determined that the complexity of the syntax does not significantly affect the level of reading comprehension. While a complete conceptual and lexical analysis may be necessary for reading comprehension, a thorough syntactic analysis is not. This should be true for both expert and novice readers in a particular professional field, herein computer science. Using American (L1 or E1, English as a native language) and Dutch (L2 or E2, English as a second, nonnative language) computer science and humanities majors reading in EST (English for Science and Technology), it was found that there were no significant differences between subgroups reading an authentic (in original, unadapted form) computer science text and those reading a syntactically adapted text either in comprehension or in time across the four groups of subjects. These results indicate that syntactic simplification of an EST text is not a real simplification. Hence, technical writers and EST teachers might give priority to other more conceptual ways of rewriting texts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-54
JournalJournal of Research in Reading
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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