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The purpose of current study was to
compare the narrative and persuasive discourses of four groups of healthy
adults in order to test the age-related changes of macrostrutural (cohesion)
and macrolinguistic level (coherence) measures
using a narrative discourse and persuasive discourse task. The analysis of data
indicated that aging had an impact on the reduction of the macrolinguistic
level in both type of examined discourse but dose selective effect on
macrostructural level according to type of discourse.

The measure of
cohesion deal with how a participant connect his/her utterances and ideas, by
means of different kinds of cohesive ties in the surface structure of
discourse, for a listener to follow. In this study, participants with aging
presents narrative discourses with significantly fewer cohesive ties per C-unit
compared to other age groups. This result may suggest that the group with aging
had difficulties to – conceptually and linguistically- link their utterances in
narrative discourse but this is not the case in persuasive discourse. The type
of discourse task has been cited among the factors that has
an influence on the individual’s performance (Ghayoumi,
Yadegari et al. 2015) and this result is likely due to the fact that,
contrary to persuasive discourse task, narrative discourse using picture
sequences facilitate the organization of the story structure by visually
providing the temporal and logical sequence of events that make the
establishment of cohesion easier in stories from picture sequences (Marini, Boewe et al. 2005, Cannizzaro and Coelho
2013). But aging people cannot exploit these structuring aids that
facilitate formation of discourse as much as other participant group.

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In Glosser and
Desser’s study, no difference was found in the use of cohesive ties in the
narrative discourses (Glosser and Deser 1992).
Notable point is that the narrations was elicited by an informal interview in
their study but in current study, a sequential picture elicit the narrative


Coherence is
defined as relationships between the meanings underlying the surface structure
of a discourse. It refers to a cognitive representation that reflects the
interaction between linguistic/discourse characteristics and world knowledge (Van Dijk 2011). On the other hand, Impairments
in a number of cognitive tasks (working and long-term memory) are seen as part
of the normal ageing process in humans (Connor
2001). It has been proposed that executive functions may be an important
contributor to discourse generation (Douglas
2010). Accordingly, it is expected that this supra-sentential level of
discourse is affected by aging.

The findings of
present study based on the decreased discourse ability average cohesion and
coherence during aging are in line with (North
et al. 1986, Glosser and Deser 1992, Schneider et al. 2000, Capilouto, Wright
et al. 2005, Juncos-Rabadán et al. 2005, Marini, Boewe et al. 2005)
indicating declined discourse performance with age.

Mackenzie showed that the educational level does not affect the narrative
discourse of individuals with primary and higher education (Mackenzie 1999), because of the heterogeneity
in the educational level of different age groups in this study, the results
should be interpreted with caution. Additionally, as sample size of the study
is low, the generalization of findings should be made with more caution.

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