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The aim of this study thesis is to investigate organizational signals (textual cohesion) and sub-thematic identification (paragraph development) as the basic elements of writing to enhance textual unity and understanding (coherence) and the main objective is inquiry into the composition, readability and comprehension of newspaper articles by Nigerian journalists. Specifically, the research examines the textual organization, cohesive devices and paragraph development as the underlying elements for comprehensibility of written texts. The broader objectives include the identification of whether articles written by Nigerian journalists follow norms of English composition writing, comply with the rules of unity and coherence in essay writing, if the paragraphs are sufficiently developed to enhance understanding and whether reading is made smooth through the use of appropriate linking devices. Both authorial and topical works by various linguists and scholars including: Fairclough (1999), Haliday and Hasan (1976, 1985, 1994), Allerton, (1979), Stubbs, (1930), Crystal and Davy (1974), Bell, (1984), Oluikpe, (2002) Frank (2004), Rasheed (1990)in areas of text analysis, composition writing, newspaper language and functional use of English, gave insight into the procedure of the research. As an aspect of text linguistics, the data consists of twenty excerpts, four each from the five national papers selected for inquiry: i) Daily Trust, ii) The Guardian, iii) The Vanguard, iv) The Punch and v) The Nation. These different papers from which the sample texts are chosen contain the various types of essays necessary for our research. Their analysis has given answers to the research questions set. A descriptive analysis is undertaken to test the coherence features in the sampled newspaper essays. From the findings of the study, it is evident that articles by the Nigerian print media are foremost composed to inform their varied audiences. Thus, differences are found between composing an editorial and an ordinary news item because while the former is meant to satisfy a well-read audience, the latter is for all other readers without regard to their educational level. However, attempt is made in most excerpts sampled to follow the terms of English essay writing from the introduction to the conclusion. Hence, the selection and application of the requisite organizational signals and the relevant developmental patterns for sub-thematic identification which from our analysis depend on the type of essay that is, narrative, descriptive, argumentative or expository. Generally, analysis of the data has enabled the realization of the impact of single sentences as whole paragraphs on the unity and coherence of texts. Also, our analysis found out that the unity and coherence quality of all the samples investigated relies heavily on the kinds of linking devices used. On the whole, the findings reveal that differences in the excerpts are minimal


1.0 Preamble

This initial chapter is an introduction to the research on text coherence as a component of discourse analysis in linguistics.The main focus of the study is on the analysis of relatedness of the elements of writing in newspaper essays in the Nigerian context. It is, therefore, worthwhile to note from the onset that good writing is that in which ideas are properly connected so that readers can move easily from one thought to the other. As such, the appropriate usage of organizational signals or, more precisely, transitional words or linkers by journalists to portray the movement of ideas in a text is one of the intricacies in the use of written language which this thesis attempts to investigate. Hence, this chapter contains the general background to the study, the statement of the research problem, the research questions and the scope of the study.

1.1 Background to the Study

As an aspect of knowledge, writing constitutes a critical nexus in the linguistic and communicative development of mankind because unlike speaking, writing needs to be taught and learnt formally. In spite of its complexities, writing documents ideas, which are usually meant to educate, convince, persuade, entertain or inform. All these can only be achieved by the unity of the topic through the use of cohesive devices to attain coherence. Thus, meaning is effectively realised. The success of any piece of writing, therefore, depends on the effective organisation of all its parts: letters, words, sentences and paragraphs through which ideas flow.



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