The consistency of a text on the web

This period of upheavals in Google’s SERPs made me think a lot about communication dynamics in a general sense. In particular, given my background, I thought about the lyrics. I thought of the infinite amount of texts that populate the billions of pages of Google results that come out of the billions of queries that users submit to the engine. All texts inserted in the sea of ​​websites that are visited daily by people looking for answers, information, products, services. And I thought about their consistency.

  • Textual coherence: what it is
  • Thematic, logical, semantic-stylistic corence
    • Thematic coherence
    • Logical consistency
    • Semantic-stylistic coherence
  • An inconsistent text is not a text
  • Insights
    • Related

Beyond the intrinsic dynamics of the web, the theories relating only to the digital world (those belonging to SEO, for example) I like to think that Google’s artificial intelligence is so deep that it does not force us to overturn our linguistic theories. That is, let me explain better, I do not want to believe that writing for the web can / should prescind from writing well.

I was a manager of Big G, indeed, the interventions to mix the cards in the results pages would have them done on the basis of the quality of the writings. Unfortunately, this is not the case. And also on the concept of content quality, I would say that Google and I do not see it in the same way. Or at least, his is not an evaluation that organizes the texts in a shareable hierarchy.

There are, however, some qualities that characterize the text as such  and which one should not be able to do without. Among these, there is precisely textual coherence.

I don’t dream of an Internet of writers, but a web where people who know at least how to make an article cohesive and coherent are the ones who write. How to deal with a topic without going off track. How to answer users’ questions by setting a meaningful speech.

Textual coherence: what it is

It is the ability of the text to remain organic and compact around a theme . A written text needs to be legible and coherent. Applies offline and also applies on the Internet. Writing for the digital world is still writing. Textual coherence is therefore based on the presence of a central theme, the semantic links between information, their order and hierarchy in the text, the homogeneity of the language.

Coherence is a structural property and is linked to the recipient’s reaction, insofar as the meaning of the text must be interpreted by the reader.

I mention the language department of the University of Turin

With the term COHERENCE we mean in textual linguistics a global unity of meaning: a text, therefore, “produces meaning”, since there is a continuity, a coherent relationship, between the sentences that compose it and between the textual expressions and the portions to know that they activate.

For consistency purposes, certain principles must be observed, such as the principle of non-contradiction and relationship for which events must be connected in a logical order. There are textual strategies that allow you to make a text coherent, but I will not talk here about anaphoras, ellipses and the like. It is enough for me to highlight the fundamental features that determine coherence in the text.

Thematic, logical, semantic-stylistic corence

Consistency therefore concerns the connection between the contents of the text. It has to do with the continuity of meaning within knowledge activated with textual expressions. And it demands uniformity. It seems obvious, it is not. Just read the sample texts recovered online.

But let’s see specifically and briefly how it is possible to divide the concept of coherence into three main aspects.

Thematic coherence

The  various topics are linked to a central topic . A linear or chain progression must make the discussion turn around the main theme so that information is added without leaving the context. Discontinuities and digressions not pertinent to the topic should be avoided. The latter is the common thread and must be clear to the recipient from start to finish.

Logical consistency

It is about the relationships between information. More precisely, the actions expressed in the text are connected to each other by logical connections. These relationships can be: causal, temporal, final, etc. The parts of the text must therefore be joined by  correct and clear logical relationships . The information must follow a so-called logical thread, in other words. Links must be made explicit to allow correct understanding of the text according to the mentioned criteria.

Semantic-stylistic coherence

It has to do with the homogeneity of formal choices and the links between the meanings of words. Maintaining the tone of voice , to use a term known by those involved in marketing, is fundamental. The same goes for the lexicon and the style choices. In other words, the vocabulary and register must be appropriate in theme and content. In the same way, speaking of semantics, attention must be paid to the compatibility between the meanings of words , phrases, propositions.

An inconsistent text is not a text

In the absence of consistency, it is the text qualification itself that falls . In fact, in linguistics there are conditions sine qua non that make a text a text. The play on words was bad, but the juice is clear: a text is such only if it meets the conditions. It must have certain qualities.

The text should be looked at as a fabric. The word text , etymologically, has the same nature: from lat. textus, p. pass. of texĕre ‘weave, weave’. The image of the texture of a fabric immediately refers to the fundamental concept to be connected to the condition of coherence: unity.

And with consistency we are only at the beginning! An important start, perhaps the quality I prefer in a text. Do you think, however, that the main conditions of textuality are considered 7:

  • cohesion
  • consistency
  • intentionality
  • acceptability
  • informativeness
  • situational
  • intertextuality

Now, the next time you have to write text that will be ground and digested by the search engine, worry much more about these features. I will try to further disseminate linguistic topics that can also help those who write on the web. In reality it is only a matter of sharing. And isn’t this one of the foundations of digital culture?

Finally, what if one day Google were to listen to me and give weight to the true quality of a text from a linguistic point of view?

 

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