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Two views on text structure: Using Rhetorical Structure Theory and Register

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Title: Two views on text structure: Using Rhetorical Structure Theory and Register


1
Two views on text structure Using Rhetorical
Structure Theory and Register Genre Theory to
improve students academic writing
  • Helmut Gruber
  • Birgit Huemer
  • Dept. of Linguistics
  • University of Vienna
  • e-mail helmut.k.gruber_at_univie.ac.at
  • birgit.huemer_at_univie.ac.at

2
Database of the study
  • Macro-level Text corpus 19 student term papers
    (77.233 words) written in four academic
    disciplines, associated with four departments
    (social history, business studies, business
    psychology) at two Austrian universities and 7
    seven papers of Linguistics students in Vienna.
    All in all 26 papers.

3
Research questions
  • Functional moves, communicative acts and their
    lexicogrammatical realisations
  • types of moves, communicative acts and
    lexicogrammatical realisations
  • Differences between existing terminology for
    social science research texts in English and
    Austrian students term papers written in German
  • Linguistic realisation of RST relations on the
    micro- and meso-textual levels
  • how many linguistic markers/ relation
  • types of linguistic markers/ types of relations
  • Correlations between generic stages and
    rhetorical relations in Austrian students term
    papers
  • Agreement and non-agreement between these two
    text structures
  • Possibility to improve text quality by changing
    these texts so that both structures correspond
    more closely

4
Generic structure
5
Text-structure
  • Austrian students term papers have a text
    structure unfolding sequentially as follows
  • Introducory part
  • Theoretical part
  • (Empirical part) not always realized
  • Concluding part

6
Introductory Part
Move Communicative acts
Relating study to exisiting research Providing background information Reporting what is known about phenomena under study Reviewing current state of research
Claiming relevance of study Asserting relevance of field of which study is a part Arguing relevance of present study
Establish the gap present study is meant to fill Pointing out deficiencies in the present state of knowledge Pointing out the positive contribution of the previous research
Previewing authors accomplishments Stating purpose or goal of present study Presenting research questions or hypotheses Summarizing theories or accomplishments
Outlining authors approach Presenting structure of study Narrowing parameters of field Discussing sources
7
Theoretical part
Move Communicative acts
Presenting theories Describing, discussing, comparing, criticizing, commenting (on) theories Explaining why theories are of relevance for the study Relating theories to research question or hypoheses Announcing steps that are neccessary to apply theories Reporting terminlogy conventions Explaining terminology
Reporting conclusions drawn by previous authors Describing, discussing, comparing, criticizing, commenting (on) conclusions Relating conclusions drawn by others to research question or hypoheses
8
Empirical part
Move Communicative acts
Presenting authors accomplishments. Describing data, methodes and/or field Announcing accomplishements Presenting accomplishements
Evaluating findings. Presenting accomplishements/findings Relating findings to research questions and hypotheses Interpreting findings Offering interpretation Comparing findings with past research Reporting findings of past research Raising or warding of counterclaims
Presenting effects of findings Recommending further research Reviewing methodes Speculating about future events Justifying recommendations Pomising to carry out recommendations
9
Concluding part
Move Communicative acts
Recapitulate Summarizing accomplishments Drawing conclusions Relating accomplishements to research questions and hypotheses Comparing accomplishements with past research Raising or warding off counterclaims
Announce further research Recommending further research Justifying recommendations Pomising to carry out recommendations Referring to further studies Speculating about future events
10
Orientation and Coda
  • Two functional moves occur independently of
    text-segments orientation and coda
  • orientation has the function of announcing what
    will be discussed in the following section
  • coda summarizes and concludes the previous section

11
Introduction original structure
1-10
Background
Elaboration
87-100
1-9
5-10
Nonvolitional-result
2-9
Concession
2-4
29-37
6-9
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
2-3
18-27
78-85
6-8
Nonvolitional-result
14-16
10-14
7-8
39-61
Elaboration
62-63
65-76
Claiming relevance of the study (5 16)
establishing the gap present research is meant to
fill (1) 18 - 37
relate study to existing research 39 - 76
establishing the gap (2) 78 - 85
Previewing authors accomplishments 87 - 100
12
Example Introductory part
Move Communicative acts
Claiming relevance of study Asserting relevance of field of which study is a part
Establish the gap present study is meant to fill Pointing out deficiencies in the present state of knowledge
Relating study to exisiting research Reporting what is known about phenomena under study
Establish the gap present study is meant to fill Pointing out deficiencies in the present state of knowledge
Previewing authors new accomplishments Outlining authors approach Stating purpose of present study Presenting structure of study
13
Moves
  • Relating study to exisiting research In most of
    the term papers this move is realized only
    through one communicative act.
  • Claiming relevance of study Usually realized
    through the communicative act Asserting
    relevance of field of which study is a part.
  • Establish the gap present study is meant to
    fill If this move is realized, it often follows
    the move Claiming relevance of study.
  • Previewing authors new accomplishments This
    move is often realized together with Outlining
    authors approach, as in this text example.
  • Outlining authors approach Usually realized
    through the communicative act Presenting
    structure of study .

14
Lexicogramatical realizations
15
Reporting what is known about phenomena under
study
  • Key realizations
  • Studies showed, that (Studien haben
    aufgezeigt, dass...)
  • It could be shown, that, (Es konnte gezeigt
    werden, ...)
  • Time-orientation past ? present
  • Person written in third person, sometimes
    de-personalized (es, man)
  • Processes relational, material
  • Modality propositions (declarative),
    modalization of usuality, modality middle-high
  • Theme phenomenon under study or previous studies
  • Logical structure projection, parataxis

16
Rhetorical structures
17
Table 1 n of linguistic markers/ relation
n of linguistic markers absolute frequency relative frequency
1 54 29,35
2 96 52,17
3 32 17,39
4 2 1,09
total 184 100,00
18
Table 2 Argumentative/ explanatory relations
vs. descriptive relations
Argumentative/ explanatory Descriptive
Concession (28) circumstance (1)
Interpretation (12) Background (16)
non volitional result (12) conjunction (2)
condition (2) content preparation (2)
contrast (6) Elaboration (94)
justify (8) evaluation (6)
non volitional cause (5) list (6)
purpose (1) restatement (1)
solutionhood (1) sequence (5)
volitional result (2) summary (1)
Total 67 Total 134
19
Linguistic markers which signal RST relations
  • Content tie
  • Content specification
  • Explicit expression of relation (Lexicalisation)
  • Conjunction
  • Stereotypical metacommunicative expression
  • Metacommunication (indicating N-S border)
  • Specifying presuming reference
  • Generic presuming reference
  • Absolute or partial recurrence
  • Linear thematic progression
  • dove-tailed thematic progression (topic
    sentences)
  • Modality
  • Discourse particles
  • Syntactic construction
  • Grammatical metaphor
  • Layout

20
Primary relation markers
  • Conjunctions
  • concession
  • contrast
  • non-volitional result
  • sequence
  • list

21
Primary relation markers
  • Stereotyped metacommunicative expressions
  • restatement
  • interpretation
  • content preparation
  • purpose

22
Primary relation markers
  • Explicit realisation of relation
    (lexicalisation)
  • evaluation
  • Metacommunicative sequence content tie
  • background

23
Primary relation markers
  • Content specification
  • Subclassifications
  • Whole Part relations
  • elaboration

24
Secondary relation markers
  • Cohesive devices
  • generic presuming and
  • specific presuming reference
  • partial and
  • total recurrence
  • metacommunicative sequences which indicate the
    N-S border

25
Table 3 Structural and functional markers/
relations
Structural markers function markers coherence relation
Conjunctions and grammatical metaphors which indicate conjunctions (resultative verbs etc.) Conjunctions and grammatical metaphors which indicate conjunctions (resultative verbs etc.) argumentative relations, enumerative relations
stereotypical metacommunicative expressions which express coherence relation stereotypical metacommunicative expressions which express coherence relation restatement, content preparation, interpretation
Lexical expressions of a relation (adjectives, verbs, stereotypical expressions) Lexical expressions of a relation (adjectives, verbs, stereotypical expressions) evaluation, interpretation
metacommunicative expressions which indicate the border between spans of a relation presuming reference which indicates/ reinforces cohesion between spans of a relation (headings) (decimal numbering system of headings) content ties background
metacommunicative expressions which indicate the border between spans of a relation presuming reference which indicates/ reinforces cohesion between spans of a relation (headings) (decimal numbering system of headings) Layout (bulleted lists) Taxonomies is a and has a relationships dove tailed thematic progression elaboration
26
Linguistic realisations of RST Relations in
sample text
  • level 1
  • Background Meta-communication, content tie,
    position of text span (at the end of the
    introduction)
  • S introduction, lines 5-85
  • N Ziel dieser Studie metacommunication,
    textual position SM war es, ein Instrument zur
    Erfassung der gesundheitsbezogenen Lebensqualität
    content tie, presuming reference, PM zu
    entwickeln, bei dem sowohl die Bedürfnisse der
    PatientInnen als auch der ÄrztInnen
    berücksichtigt werden sollten.
  • S introduction, lines 5-85
  • It was the aim of this study metacommunication,
    textual position SM to develop an instrument
    for measuring the health-related quality of life
    content tie, presuming reference, PM

27
Linguistic realisations of RST Relations in
sample text
  • level 2
  • elaboration Recurrence, content specification
  • NDie Erfassung von Lebensqualität nimmt in der
    Medizin eine wichtige Rolle ein, . S Dass
    Lebensqualität anaphoric tie, SM von der
    subjektiven Wahrnehmung eines Individuums
    bestimmt wird, erschwert jedoch die Messbarkeit
    dieses Phänomens content specification, PM
  • N Measuring the quality of life has an
    important role in medicine, S That the
    quality of life anaphoric tie, SM is influenced
    by individual perception, makes it difficult to
    measure this phenomenon content specification,
    PM.

28
Linguistic realisations of RST Relations in
sample text
  • level 3
  • non-volitional result conjunction
  • Wenn ÄrztInnen Lebensqualität oder
    Lebensqualitätsdefizite adäquat erfassen wollen
    hyper-new summarizes previous paragraph(s),
    erscheint es daher PM als unumgänglich, dass
    sie sich, außer mit klassischen medizinischen
    Messkriterien, auch individuell mit den
    PatientInnen und deren Problemen
    auseinandersetzen, ihnen zuhören und deren
    subjektive Schilderungen und Eindrücke
    einbeziehen und diesen eine besondere Bedeutung
    beimessen.
  • If doctors want to record quality of life or
    deficits in quality of life adequatelyhyper-new
    summarizes previous paragraph(s), it seems
    therefore PM inevitable that they

29
Linguistic realisations of RST Relations in
sample text
  • level 3
  • concession conjunction
  • Dass es in der Kommunikation zwischen ÄrztInnen
    und PatientInnen linear thematic progression
    jedoch conjunction PM immer wieder zu
    Problemen kommt, wurde bereits in verschiedenen
    linguistischen Studien aufgezeigt.
  • That problems in doctor- patient communication
    linear thematic progression occur still
    conjunction PM again and again was already
    shown in various linguistic studies.

30
Introduction original structure
1-10
Background
Elaboration
87-100
1-9
5-10
Nonvolitional-result
2-9
Concession
2-4
29-37
6-9
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
2-3
18-27
78-85
6-8
Nonvolitional-result
14-16
10-14
7-8
39-61
Elaboration
62-63
65-76
31
Introduction original structure
1-10
Background
Elaboration
87-100
1-9
5-10
Nonvolitional-result
2-9
Concession
2-4
29-37
6-9
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
2-3
18-27
78-85
6-8
Nonvolitional-result
14-16
10-14
7-8
39-61
Elaboration
62-63
65-76
Claiming relevance of the study (5 16)
establishing the gap present research is meant to
fill (1) 18 - 37
relate study to existing research 39 - 76
establishing the gap (2) 78 - 85
Previewing authors accomplishments 87 - 100
32
Introduction original structure
1-10
Background
87-100
1-9
Elaboration
Concession
5-10
2-9
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
2-4
29-37
6-9
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
2-3
18-27
78-85
6-8
Nonvolitional-result
14-16
10-14
7-8
39-61
Elaboration
62-63
65-76
Claiming relevance of the study (5 16)
establishing the gap present research is meant to
fill (1) 18 - 37
relate study to existing research 39 - 76
establishing the gap (2) 78 - 85
Previewing authors accomplishments 87 - 100
33
Introduction 1st modification
Background
87-100
Elaboration
1-9
5-10
2-9
Nonvolitional-result
Concession
29-37, 39-40
2-4
6-9
Nonvolitional-result
Justify
Nonvolitional-result
18-27
2-3
78-85
7-9
Nonvolitional-result
14-16
10-14
8-9
41-61
Elaboration
62-63
65-76
Claiming relevance of the study (5 16)
establishing the gap present research is meant to
fill 18 - 37 39-40 78 85 (3 nuclear elements)
relate study to existing research 41 bis 76 (1
central nucleus)
Previewing authors accomplishments 87 - 100
34
Introduction 2nd modification
1-12
Background
87-100
1-11
Elaboration
5-10
2-11
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
10-11
2-5
6-9
Nonvolitional-result
Elaboration
Concession
29-37
78-85
4-5
2-3
6-7
8-9
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
25-27
18-25
14-16
10-14
62-63
39-61
74-76
65-74
Claiming relevance of the study 5 bis 16
establishing the gap 1 (18-27)
relate study to existing research 39 bis 76 (1
central nucleus)
Previewing authors accomplishments 87 bis 100
establishing the gap 2 (29-3778-85)
35
Introduction 3rd modification
1-12
Background
87-100
1-11
Elaboration
5-10
2-11
Nonvolitional-result
Concession
8-10
78-85
2-7
Condition
Nonvolitional-result
Elaboration
29-37
8-9
14-16
10-14
4-7
Elaboration
Nonvolitional-result
Nonvolitional-result
25-27
18-25
62-63
39-61
6-7
Nonvolitional-result
74-76
65-74
Claiming relevance of the study 5 bis 16
relate study to existing research 39 bis 76 (1
zentraler Nukleus)
Previewing authors accomplishments 87 bis 100
establishing the gap (18-3778-85) APK
36
The end
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