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Cohesion: A Discourse Perspective

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Thomas Christiansen

This book represents a fresh look at cohesion, the point of departure being Halliday and Hasan’s seminal Cohesion in English, which is examined in depth as are other notable approaches to cohesion such as Hoey’s Patterns of Lexis in Text. It also compares different studies of relevance to cohesion from other areas of linguistics, such as: generative grammar, Functional Sentence Perspective (FSP), and corpus linguistics. In this way, this work extends discussion of cohesion beyond the realms of systemic linguistics to include a broader spectrum of approaches including research into languages other than English. The main focus, however, is on varieties of English and on general and specialised discourse types.
Rather than limiting itself to the text as product, the manifestation of a discourse, this book looks at cohesion from the wider perspective of discourse, seen as an interactive process. Consequently, different sociolinguistic and cultural factors are also taken into consideration: How far is cohesion a constitutive feature of text? What is the precise link between cohesion and coherence? What specific role does discourse have in phenomena such as anaphora? Do such things as cohesive universals exist across languages? How far do socio-cultural, or discourse-specific, conventions contribute to the type and degree of cohesion present in a text?

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Preface - 9

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Preface In this book we look at cohesion, a phenomenon usually associated with text, from the perspective of discourse. We will draw both on the works of such renowned scholars as Halliday and Hasan and on our own research into this field, principally two works: Christiansen (1993a, 2009a). The first is a short practical introduction; the second a more detailed work looking specifically at co-reference and identity chains in Italian, initially presented as a Ph.D. thesis (University of Salford, UK, 2001). As in Christiansen (1993a), our approach will be partly theo- retical, partly practical in that emphasis will be also on illustration and exemplification of the key concepts. Through these, it is hoped that a greater appreciation of the concepts themselves will be achieved – as much as, if not more than, a purely technical discussion of the con- cepts themselves – many of which are only partially understood by scholars even now. Indeed, inevitably, some of the notions involved may lie be- yond linguistic expression. The so-called ordinary-language philoso- pher, Wittgenstein (1922: 4.1212) draws a useful distinction between saying and showing, arguing that the two are dichotomous: “What can be shown, cannot be said.” Such a position is extreme (and in Witt- genstein’s later, radically different work, he himself seemed to reject many of his earlier theories) but it is certainly true that showing and saying are two very different, but equally useful means of telling, that is of imparting information. An approach informed by this realisation is particularly valid for...

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