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DISCOURSE AND TEXTS

A number of authors have been concerned to

provide a more formal account of how speakers of


English come to identify a text as forming a text
(for example, Halliday&Hassan, 1976).
They are concerned with what binds a text
together and force co-interpretation, i.e. what
makes them to be interpreted in the same way by
readers (hearers in the case of spoken texts).
the primary determinant of whether a set of
sentences do or do not constitute a text depends
on cohesive relationships within and between
the sentences, which create texture.

COHESION
Cohesion refers to facts inside the language and it

is achieved through the formal links that give a


sense of unity beyond the sentence. You cannot
take it for granted that a text is a text unless it
has formal links.
Cohesive links within a text are set up where
INTERPRETATION of some element in the discourse
is dependent on that of another. The one
PRESUPPOSES the other in the sense that it cannot
be effectively decoded except by recourse to it.
(Halliday and Hassan, in Brown and Yule,
1983:191).

EXAMPLE

Wash and core six cooking apples.


Put them into a fireproof dish.
(Source: Brown and Yule,
1983:191)

1. VERB FORM
The form of the verb in one sentence can limit

the choice of the verb in the next. In the


following example, the verbs are all in the past
tense. The first tense conditions all the others:
E.g.
Lord Melbourne did not like birdsong and
could not distinguish a woodlark from a
nightingale. He preferred the singing of
blackbirds anyway.
(Warner, Queen Victorias Sketchbook, 1979:77)

2. CONJUNCTIONS AND
ADVERBIALS
Conjunctions and adverbials draw attention to the

type of relationship between the


sentences/clauses. These can be of several types:
a. additive:
and, or, furthermore,
similarly, in addition
b. adversative: but, however, on the other
hand, nevertheless
c. causal: so, consequently, for this reason,
it follows from this
d. temporal:then, after that, an hour later,
finally, at last

3. PARALLELISM
Parallelism suggests a connection, simply
because the form of one sentence
repeats the form of another. It is often
used in speeches, prayers, poetry and
advertisements because the rhythmical
repetition of the same structure renders
an emotional touch and may also
function as an aide-memoire. The
following examples are taken from Cook,
1989:

PARALLELISM
EXAMPLE 1
Teach us, Good Lord, to give and not to

count the cost, to fight and not to heed the


wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to
labour and to ask for no reward, save that of
knowing that we do Thy will (St. Richards
Prayer)
In the example above, as you can notice, the
parallelism consists of repeated grammatical
structure: to X and not to Y the/for Z

PARALLELISM
EXAMPLE 2
Le Generale de Gaulle est mort. La France

est veuve. (A televised address to the


French people by President Pompidou)
Here, the grammatical pattern is definite
article+proper noun+copula+complement
Notice also the contrasted masculine and
feminine genders reinforcing the metaphor
of deceased husband and bereaved wife.

SEMANTIC PARALLELISM
A: The Good Lord, in his wisdom has

taken her away from us.


B: You mean the old girls snuffed it.
Notice that the use of the colloquial
expression to parallel the formal one
creates a humorous effect.

4. REFERRING EXPRESSIONS
(CO-REFERENCE)
Co-referential forms are forms

which, instead of being interpreted


semantically in their own right,
make reference to something else
for their interpretation. These forms
direct the reader/hearer to look
elsewhere for their interpretation.

TYPES OF REFERRING
EXPRESSIONS
1. Where their interpretation lies outside the text,

in the context of the situation, the relationship is


said to be an exophoric relationship which plays
no part in textual cohesion.
2. Where their interpretation lies within the text,
they are called endophoric and do form cohesive
ties within the text.
Endophoric relations are of two kinds: those which
look back in the text for their interpretation, called
anaphoric relations, and those which look forward
in the text for their interpretation, which are called
cataphoric relations.

Co-referential chains
1. Repetition
Timotei is both mild to your hair and to your scalp -

so mild you can wash your hair as often as you like.


Timotei cleans your hair gently, leaving it soft and
shiny, with a fresh smell of summer meadows.
This Schedule and Policy shall be read together as
one contract and any word or expression to which a
specific meaning has been attached in any part of
the said Schedule or Policy shall bear such specific
meaning wherever the word or expression may
appear.
The pineapple...the luscious fruit...our meal...the
tropical luxury. (ELEGANT REPETITION)

Co-referential chains
2. Lexical chains
Lexical chains, or chains of reference, are
connected words running through
discourse. They need not necessarily
consist of words which mean the same,
however. They may be created by words
which associate with each other. For
example:
animal - horse - wildlife
rock star - world tour - millionaire - yacht

5. SUBSTITUTION AND ELLIPSIS


Do you like mangoes?
Yes I do.

What are you doing?


Eating a mango.

TASK
In the following examples
identify types of referring
expressions
There was a pineapple on the table. So
I ate it.
Where shall we put it?
Put it on the mantelpiece
Nobody seemed to know where they
came from, but there they were in the
Forest: Kanga and Baby Roo (A.A.
Milne: Winnie-the-Pooh, Chapter 7).

TASK
Identify cohesive devices in
the following text

Available in the United Kingdom. A BMW for the animal kingdom.


In childrens fiction, it was Doctor Doolittle who talked to animal.

Today, thanks to doctors at the Bavarian Institute of Zoology it is


the engineers at the BMW. At frequencies over 20,000 Hz, sound
becomes inaudible to most humans. A hedgehog, on the other
hand, can detect frequencies up to 45,000Hz. For this reason
BMW has developed the concept of WAIL (Wildlife Acoustic
Information Link). This operates on the same ultrasonic echosounding principle as BMWs Park Distance Control System. Sonic
waves are emitted from the front bumper producing a warning
call which alerts stray animals to the approaching car. This
encourages them to jump in the nearest hedgerow. Available
from April 1 on selected models, we believe it will be resounding
success with all road users. Both the four and two legged
varieties.
[BMW logo] The Ultimate Driving Machine

(The Guardian, 1 April 1977)