Importance Of Language Inferencing

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Many types of knowledge sources have been suggested by different researchers to be employed in inferring the meaning of unknown words and as Brown (2007) asserts inferencing can be successful if it is reasonable and based on as much available information as possible. Carton (1971, cited in Soria, 2001) presented a taxonomy of types of knowledge sources used in lexical inferencing which consisted of three main hint types: contextual, intralingual, and interlingual. Contextual hints, also known as extralingual or pragmatic hints, are drawn from the learners’ knowledge of the world and also the information available in the co-text. Co-text is related to the process of lexical inferencing to the extent that the particular linguistic context will …show more content…
Many factors will determine which words are selected by the learners to be inferred. Paribakht and Wesche (1999) argue that the three main important factors that influence the learner’s decision in the selection of what unknown words to infer are the importance of the unknown word to text comprehension, its part of speech, and the learner’s perception of its general importance. There is no guarantee that the meaning of all these unknown words will be guessed correctly as inferencing the meaning of unknown words is a multidimensional task and dependent on various factors. Learners’ reading proficiency has been referred by many researchers as a main factor which influences the outcome of lexical inferencing and is in turn influenced by learners’ ability in lexical inferencing. Paribakht and Bengelei (2004) conducted a study to investigate the relationship between reading proficiency and EFL university learners’ lexical inferencing ability. Ten intermediate and 7 advanced learners participated in their study. They concluded that more proficient learners were more successful in lexical inferencing than less proficient learners. Another study was conducted by Cain, Lemmon and Oakhill (2004) to investigate the difference between readers with different comprehension levels in their ability to infer the meaning of unknown words. The results of their study revealed that there was a …show more content…
Local inferences involve connecting explicitly stated pieces of information to each other into an overall network, while global inferences automatically connect separate pieces of information in a text into a framework (McKoon and Ratcliff, 1992). Among different models of lexical inferencing, the two main ones are Minimalist Hypothesis (McKoon & Ratcliff, 1992) and Constructionist Theory (Graesser, Singer & Trabasso, 1994). The Minimalist Hypothesis asserts that a few number of inferences which are limited to local inferences are made in the process of reading comprehension. This model also asserts that background knowledge is minimally used in lexical inferencing (McKoon & Ratcliff, 1992). Constructionist theory, on the other hand, asserts that many inferences can be generated while reading which can be either global or local. In this theory, despite the Minimalist Hypothesis, background knowledge plays an important role in lexical inferencing (Graesser, et al.,

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