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an appraisal of Reference and Conjunction as Cohesive Devices in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck


This study analyses Chimamanda Adichie’s The Thing around your Neck with a view to ascertaining how effectively she has used References and Conjunctives. The study adopts Halliday and Hassan’s (1976) Model. The objective is to analyse the use of References and Conjunctives as ties that connect sentences and paragraphs in the selected short stories, in order to bridge the perceived lacuna that needs to be filled. The result reveals that the narrative is cohesive because of Adichie’s use of the cohesive ties and this also makes the narratives to be coherent. It is coherent because every part of the narrative does not need further grammatical or semantic interpretations to be comprehended, as it is written in more of simple sentences than complex. Adichie concentrated on the use of only three Conjunctives (Additive, Adversative and Causal) with exception of Temporal Cohesive Conjunctive. Also, her references are mostly endophoric and anaphoric with few exceptions of exophoric and cataphoric, and this does not inhibit meaning in the narratives but makes her readers to be alert to what whatever she is describing.



1.1 Background to the Study

The interpretation of a text is tied to the ability of the readers to not just make sense of the individual lexicon but also draw a connection between the groups of words, phrases and sentences into one meaningful unit. This may also require a background knowledge of the mental image being portrayed by the writer’s linguistic choices. Once the average reader is able to make sense of the individual word in relations to other words which brings meaning, ideas and understanding of the writer’s message, such a text may be considered to possess cohesion which may further bring coherence.

Every writer tries to communicate an idea or ideas and without certain linguistic elements, such idea may elude the reader who is not able to piece the ideas in the passage together probably due to insufficient use of cohesive ties or the lack of grammatico-semantic features which is the domain of functional grammar. Functional grammar focuses on meaning and treats grammar as a resource for language users in making meaning in a given social context. Thus, Larsen-Freeman (npn) in Liu and Jiang (62-63) suggests that “language form, meaning, and use should be approached as an integrated whole.” The three aspects of grammar are interwoven because “a change in one will involve a change in another” (Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman 4).

In addition, lexico-grammar studies lexicon and grammar as two inherently connected parts of a single entity, challenging the traditional “wisdom of postulating separate domains of lexis and syntax” (Sinclair, 104). Francis (142) further explains that “a grammatical structure may be lexically restricted” and, conversely, lexical items are often grammatical in nature, for the use of a lexical item often has grammatical implications.

Many studies have investigated this close lexical and grammatical connection (Biberet al., 1998; Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad, & Finegan, 1999; Francis, Hunston, & Manning, 1996, 1998; Hunston & Francis) and cohesion is usually a part of such discourse. Cohesion therefore is one aspect of Lexico-Grammatical study, because it analyses the use of cohesive ties in a text to achieve meaning.

According to Laeli (9), the concept of cohesion is a semantic one; it refers to relations of meaning that exist within the text and that define it as a text. Cohesion occurs where the interpretation of some elements in the discourse is dependent on that of another. The one presupposes the other, in the sense that it cannot be effectively decoded except by recourse to it. When this happens, a relation of cohesion is set up, and the two elements, the presupposing and the presupposed, are thereby at least potentially integrated into a text.

Laeli (10) conceives of Cohesion as the formal aspect of language in discourse. It is a “syntactic organization”. Syntactic organization is the texts which are coherent and well-structured solid. Lexical cohesion is a guide to the organization of the flow of ideas in the text: Tracing groups of words with related meanings, one sees which semantic domains are used, to what extent and in what patterns.

Cohesion can also be defined as a set of resources of constructing relations in discourse which transcend grammatical structure. According to Martin J.R cited in Schiffrin (203), Cohesion is a part of the study of texture, which considers the interaction of cohesion with other aspects of text organization. Texture, in turn is one aspects of the study of coherence, which takes the social contexts of text into considerations.

Halliday and Hasan (5) state that like other semantic relations, cohesion is expressed through the strata of organization of language. Language can be explained as a multiple coding system comprising three levels of coding, or strata: the semantic (meaning), the lexico-grammatical (forms) and the phonological and orthographic (expressions). Meanings are realized (coded) as forms, and forms are realized in turn (recorded) as expressions. To put this simply, meaning is put into wording, and wording into sound or writing. For the writer to communicate with the readers, the corpus will require certain cohesive ties which help to elucidate meaning clearly for the readers.

Reference and conjunction are parts of the elements with which cohesion is achieved. Reference is the relation between an element of text and something else by reference to which it is interpreted in the given instance. Reference is a potentially cohesive relation because the thing that serves as the source of the interpretation may itself be an element of the text (Laeli 12).

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