Cognitive Aspects of Understanding Alien Text

O. I. Vovk

Abstract


The article studies cognitive dimensions of understanding an alien text. Text understanding is defined as a cognitive process based on special mental operations aimed at decoding an author’s intentions, reconstructing the meaning of a text and reflecting its main ideas. Interpretational procedures are performed via deciphering codes, under relevant conditions, on corresponding levels, in cognitive fields and within certain modules. A text is viewed as conventionalized expressions of the experience of an author, thus, the interpretation of a text reveals something about the social context in which it was formed, and provides a reader with the means to share the experiences of an author. The reciprocity between text and context is 
called the hermeneutic circle. To enter the hermeneutic circle, i.e. to understand an author’s intentions and penetrate into deep senses hidden in a text, a reader has to pass the semantic, pragmatic, notional and conceptual levels. The fundamental idea is emphasized that a problem of interpretation is a problem of understanding.
To better understand a text and introduce a reader into its context the cognitive framework offers certain  strategies, or heuristics – general principles of exploring an object, inferring new knowledge or solving a problem. Applying the heuristics allows a reader to examine the linguistic, cognitive, originative, and situational aspects of the text. In the article the presumption is made that the adequate understanding of an alien text depends on students’ level of development of linguistic personality, knowledge space, communicative and cognitive competence, worldview, multiple intelligences, individual cognitive features etc.

Keywords


text understanding; communicative and cognitive competence; interpretation of a text; codes; levels; modules; stages; cognitive fields; conditions and heuristics for text understanding; hermeneutic circle

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