Evaluation of content and form in informing texts

  • Marcel Ištván Charles University in Prague
Keywords: text quality; text optimization; text reception; mental representation; canon


This article describes a part of a research aimed at evaluating text-optimizing techniques. The respondents were presented with original texts and with differently manipulated versions of them. The text types studied here were an instruction manual to a digital camera and written instructions on how to fill in the annual tax declaration form. The original texts came in two language variants, namely Slovak and Dutch. They were tested on native speakers of both languages and learners of Dutch. Among other post-reading tasks, the respondents were asked to freely comment on the text they just had read. One interesting detail came up among the comments on the Dutch version of the texts that accompany the tax form: namely, there were relatively many comments questioning if these texts fulfill the canon of a “real” administrative text. On the other hand, no such questioning comments were recorded for the Slovak texts. More interestingly, the Slovak texts were more heavily manipulated than the Dutch ones, because the original Dutch texts were more suitable for the end recipient. Another striking fact is that the manipulation of the Dutch texts did not lead to statistically significant changes in the ability of the respondents to score better in questions about the facts in the texts, whereas the Slovak respondents did score better.


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