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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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Chapter 1. The Concept of Cohesion

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1. The Concept of Cohesion 1.1.Introduction: a new approach to cohesion In this chapter we will examine the concept itself of cohesion, outlin- ing the different ways that certain features of texts can be considered ‘cohesive’ and the different general categories of cohesive features that are found in texts. In this discussion, we will lay the basis for the new approach that we propose, focusing on discourse rather than on text, as studies have hitherto done. Such a perspective entails a re- evaluation also of the term coherence, which has been widely recog- nised by scholars as inherent to cohesion, but which has not in itself been examined in depth from the perspective of cohesion. Section 1.2. discusses the different definitions that exist for the terms cohesion and cohesive tie. In Section 1.3, we look at how cohe- sion is not just a relationship found between items in different sen- tences but can be identified in relations between items even within the same word phrase or clause. In Section 1.4, we examine how the con- cept of cohesion relates to the dual concepts of text and discourse: a complex area that involves consideration of how far one can view co- hesion as a constituent feature of text necessary for its manifestation and for its coherence, or as a by-product, more or less inevitable, of the fact that texts are communicative acts that convey a coherent mes- sage. Finally, Section 1.5. will provide a brief overview of Halliday and Hasan’s classification...

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