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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 8. The informative function of cohesion


8. The informative function of cohesion 8.1 Introduction: cohesion and referring expression type In previous chapters, we have moved from looking at ties individually, and classifying the typology of cohesion, to looking at the accumula- tive effect of different ties on texts (Chapter 7). In the present chap- ter,424 we will explore a related aspect: the way that individual ties are influenced by other ties present in the text. This is a very wide area, and as an initial study of it, we will examine one particular case, that of items in identity chains in a specific text type (newspaper articles). As we have seen when considering various types of endophoric (intratextual) coreference (see 2.3.) and patterns of lexis (Chapter 6), noun phrases typically occur as members of an identity chain. In such cases, it is interesting to examine how the selection of noun phrase is influenced by the other noun phrases in the same chain. In doing this, one sees how noun phrase type (e.g. full form, pro-form, reiteration or paraphrase) is determined not only by localised intrasentential, syntac- tic concerns but also by intersentential, textual ones: mainly, but not exclusively, how that noun phrase relates to the other members of the chain. Different factors affect the selection of a noun phrase, that is, determine its syntactic realization (e.g. full noun phrase or pronoun), namely its content (i.e. the ideational information that it encodes) and its textual role (e.g. whether it constitutes given or new information). From the...

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