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Cohesion: A Discourse Perspective


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 7. Lexical Patterns


7. Lexical Patterns 7.1 Introduction: changing the perspective In this section, we will examine the work of Hoey on lexical patterns in text (1991) as it provides an interesting bridge between the works of Halliday and Hasan (both separately and together) and other later ap- proaches designed primarily for the practical application of descrip- tions of cohesion, not for analysis for its own sake. Hoey’s approach to cohesion (excluding conjunction which, like Halliday and Hasan, he recognizes as a phenomenon apart) is es- sentially holistic and “is firmly based on the assumption that cohesion can only be satisfactorily understood if it is described functionally and taken as a piece” (1991: 16). In this, there are links to the works of Hasan (1984), who recognises the importance of an integrated ap- proach that focuses on the accumulative effect of the various types of cohesion, namely cohesive harmony (see 6.5.), in particular its effect on coherence. Given the focus on general effects, Hoey classifies ties accord- ing to their function in relation to the rest of the ties in the text, and there is less focus on any specific type in the abstract as there is in Halliday and Hasan (1976). Hoey’s principal aim is the definition of a set of objectively-definable categories based on form – the item’s in- ternal structure (its morphemes) – or on its specific meaning in the context. In this way, he seeks to avoid much of the subjectivity of lexical cohesion, especially that of collocation (see 6.3.). More...

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