Even though it is not necessary to infer the kitchen flooring, these types of inferences aid in comprehending as they allow for more vivid mental representations to be generated by the reader. While it is not necessary to infer flooring material, it is important to use the text to construct and support these inferences. Here tile flooring is a reasonable inference because it is one likely to cause glass to break.
An elaborative inference is one that does not need to be made in order to understand the text.
The sound of breaking glass came from the kitchen. “Oh,” Mary turned quickly. “That’s okay John. It was an accident,” she said. “Be careful where you step.”
The inference that John is Mary’s son is not about emotional content. Typically it is easiest to identify if an inference is logical by asking if the inference is about emotional content or an emotional response. If it is the inference is emotional. If it is not the inference is logical.
A logical inference’s content is not about an emotion or emotional response.
John is Mary’s son.
A bowl was dropped.
There are actually two inferences here. First, is that it was a bowl which made the sound. Second is that it was dropped. These inferences are both backward because they are about what is currently happening, or just happened in the text. Sometimes it is easiest to identify an inference as backward by confirming that it is not predicting what might happen later in the narrative.
A backward inference is about what has already occurred or is occurring in the text.
A forward inference is about what has not yet occurred in the text.
Mary will sweep up the glass.
A forward inference is more commonly thought of as a prediction. There are multiple forward inferences contained within the above inference. One, the glass will be cleaned up. Two, it will be cleaned by Mary. Three, it will be clean up by sweeping. All of these forward inferences are based upon the backward inference that there is in fact glass on the floor.
The text never explicitly states that something actually broke or that it was made of glass, only that there was the sound of breaking glass. The inference that something made of glass broke is a necessary inference for the reader to make in order to negotiate meaning with the author.
Something made of glass broke.
A cohesive inference is one that needs to be made in order to understand the text.
A micro inference is made by linking two units of meaning with the explicit text.
Connecting a pronoun to its referent (the noun which is linked to the pronoun) is almost always a micro inference. This is because this type of inference can be made by simply linking two units of meaning. Whenever an inference can be reasonably made by linking one unit of meaning (explicit text, prior inference or prior knowledge) with explicit text it is micro.
“It” refers to the cause of the sound of breaking glass.
This inference requires orchestrating multiple sentences and prior inferences. At least the first and third sentences must be linked to infer John caused the noise. This is then orchestrated with the inferences that a glass object was broken and that object was a bowl. When an inference requires orchestrating at least two units of meaning (explicit text, prior inference or prior knowledge) with explicit text it is macro.
John broke a glass bowl.
A macro inference is made by orchestrating multiple units of meaning.
Being upset is an emotional response. Whenever an inference is about an emotional response or emotional content, it is an emotional inference. The inference that glass actually broke is a logical inference upon which the emotional inference is based. Still, the inference about being upset is an emotional inference.
John was upset about the broken glass.
An emotional inference’s content is about an emotion or emotional response.
A cohesive inference is one the that author intends for the reader to make. Typically the author uses specific word choice or constructs specific scenarios that would reasonably lead the intended audience to make a certain inference. While elaborative inferences are not required for negotiating meaning with the author, these inferences are critical to developing a more personalized connection with and understanding of the text.
While distinguishing between micro and macro inferences is often a matter of deciding whether the inference could be made by reading a single sentence or not, this is an oversimplification. In the given text, “she” cannot be connected to Mary within a single sentence. However, since this inference can be made by linking two units of meaning and does not require orchestrating multiple units, it is ultimately a micro inference.
When distinguishing between backward and forward inferences it is important to remember that the direction is in relation to the timeline of the narrative as experienced by the reader. This can be different from the timeline experienced by the characters through literary devices such as flashback and flash forwards. A forward inference is about thinking ahead in the narrative timeline.
It is important to remember that this type of inference is about the content of the inference, not the process the reader used to arrive at the inference. The difference between an emotional and logical inference is not always clear. It is a distinction made by deciding the primary nature of the inference.