This thesis takes a systemic functional approach towards looking at coherence in two expository texts. The aim of this thesis is to explore some of the factors recognized as contributing to text coherence as suggested by Fries (2004), focusing on Texture, Structure, and Consistency, and to investigate the significance and validity of some of the hypotheses concerning coherence and cohesive devices related to these factors through text analysis. The study focuses on the texture imposing systems of Theme structure, Information structure and Cohesive Harmony in relation to texture and structure. The texts’ self-consistency was studied on the basis of the analysis of the texts’ texture and structure and in relation to Grice’s Cooperation Principle.
The study also aims to investigate whether this type of SFL analysis of coherence can be related to text comprehension. An experiment was carried out where a small selection of lower secondary and upper secondary students was asked to read the two texts and answer questionnaires relating to their comprehension and opinions of the two texts. The results of the experiment were then compared to the analysis.
The findings of the study were that the texture imposing systems proved a useful tool for analyzing the coherence of the two texts. However, it found that definitions of Information Structure need to be further specified in order to be successfully applied to the analysis, and that the notion of familiarity, or shared knowledge, among readers must be considered in relation to the text’s Tenor. It was also found that the idea of Cohesive Harmony as presented by Hasan (1985) is not easily applicable to longer stretches of more complicated texts, and may need to be elaborated upon if it is to be applied to analyses of non-fiction texts. Finally, the study found support for including consistency as a factor in relation to coherence, as the results of the study imply that violations of the Gricean maxims and ambiguities may interfere with readers’ comprehension of text.