Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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The contributions of centering theory (CT) have been widely accepted in linguistics, but there has not yet been much published research applying the theory to first language (L1) interference. This study applies CT to investigate L1 interference in discourse coherence in essays written in English by Thai university students. A corpus compiled from 50 essays is analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. Statistical results suggest that CT is more reliable than human raters in measuring coherence, since the data shows no influence of subjective measurement. Further analysis by CT shows that word repetition is the most common form of Cb (focus of attention) in the continuation states (56.6%), and pronouns are the second most frequent form (39.6%). These findings conflict with the predictions of CT, which assert that pronouns are usually preferred over noun phrases. Results of qualitative analysis pointed out that this discrepancy is caused by L1 interference in writing, since word repetition is commonly used in Thai discourse. The Thai students' English-language writing abilities were at pre-intermediate levels of competence. However, this aspect is not considered negative L1 interference since the use of repetition in the students' compositions helped the raters follow the ideas in the writing. The results also show that the students were not aware of issues of cohesion and were not confident in using pronouns. The L1 interference in discourse coherence, specifically word repetition, was recognized by Thai raters but not by native English-speaking (NES) raters.

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