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cohesion

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cohesion

Roy Peter Clark, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (Little, Brown, 2006)

Definition:

The use of repetition, transitional expressions, and other devices (cohesive cues) to guide readers and show how the parts of a composition relate to one other. Adjective: cohesive.

For a discussion of the relationship between cohesion and coherence, see Examples and Observations, below.

See also:

Cohesion: Examples and Exercises:

Etymology:

From the Latin, "cling together"

Examples and Observations:

  • "The big parts of a story should stick together, but the small parts need some stickum as well. When the big parts fit, we call that good feeling coherence; when sentences connect, we call it cohesion."
    (Roy Peter Clark, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. Little, Brown, 2006)


  • Cohesion Analysis
    "The linguistic method perhaps most fully applied to the field of composition studies is what is generally called cohesion analysis. According to a comprehensive treatment of this method--Michael Halliday and Ruqaiya Hasan's Cohesion in English [1976]--cohesion is a semantic concept that 'occurs when the interpretation of some element in the discourse is dependent on that of another' (4). . . . At its simplest, cohesion refers to the ways in which texts are 'stuck together'--the ways in which sentences are linked or connected by various linguistic and semantic ties."
    (Theorizing Composition: A Critical Sourcebook of Theory and Scholarship in Contemporary Composition Studies, ed. by Mary Lynch Kennedy. Greenwood Press, 1998)


  • Cohesion and Coherence
    "Until the mid 1970s, cohesion and coherence were often used interchangeably, both referring either to a kind of vague sense of wholeness or to a more specific set of relationships definable grammatically and lexically. The work of Halliday and Hasan (1976) influenced scholars and researchers in rhetoric and composition so that, by the early 1980s, the two terms were distinguished. Cohesion is now understood to be a textual quality, attained through the use of grammatical and lexical elements that enable readers to perceive semantic relationships within and between sentences. Coherence refers to the overall consistency of a discourse--its purpose, voice, content, style, form, and so on--and is in part determined by readers' perceptions of texts, dependent not only on linguistic and contextual information in the texts but also on readers' abilities to draw upon other kinds of knowledge, such as cultural and intertextual knowledge."
    (Irwin Weiser, "Linguistics." Encyclopedia of Rhetoric and Composition, ed. by Theresa Enos. Taylor & Francis, 1996)


    "Cohesion is achieved when writers connect their organized parts with sufficiently clear and numerous signals--like the words 'finally,' 'thus,' 'however,'--to make the development of their cases intelligible and to lead the reader safely along the emerging lines of their arguments. . . .

    "[W]riting must have not only coherence, an effective design, but cohesion, an explicit set of 'hooks' and 'ties' that ensure a reader's interest and comprehension. Coherence is the kind of 'holding together' that a good design will give any discourse, whether written or spoken. Cohesion is the result of giving readers the right kind of explicit help in figuring out the design. Cohesion gives readers the clues for discovering coherence."
    (Wayne C. Booth and Marshall W. Gregory, The Harper & Row Rhetoric: Writing as Thinking/Thinking as Writing, 1987)


  • Types of Cohesion
    "In linguistics, [cohesion is] the use of language forms to indicate semantic relations between elements in a discourse. Grammatical cohesion concerns such matters as reference, ellipsis, substitution, and conjunction; lexical cohesion concerns such features as synonymy, antonymy, metonymy, collocation, repetition, etc.; instantial cohesion concerns ties that are valid only for a particular text. Together, cohesion and register contribute to textuality, the sense that something is a text and not a random collection of sentences."
    (Tom Michael McCarthy and Tom McArthur, "Cohesion." The Oxford Companion to the English Language. Oxford Univ. Press, 1992)


  • Cohesion and Coherence in Bill Bryson's Thunderbolt Kid
    "Of all the tragic losses since the 1950s, mimeograph paper may be the greatest. With its rapturously fragrant, sweetly aromatic pale blue ink, mimeograph paper was literally intoxicating. Two deep drafts of a freshly run-off mimeograph worksheet and I would be the education system’s willing slave for up to seven hours. Go to any crack house and ask the people where their dependency problems started and they will tell you, I'm certain, that it was with mimeograph paper in second grade. I used to bound out of bed on a Monday morning because that was the day that fresh mimeographed worksheets were handed out. I draped them over my face and drifted off to a private place where fields were green, everyone went barefoot, and the soft trill of panpipes floated on the air."
    (Bill Bryson, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. Broadway Books, 2006)
Pronunciation: ko-HE-zhen
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