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Title: Cohesion, Coherence and Discourse

Cohesion, Coherence and Discourse
She hid Bob then cooked it, whose sister rose
prices, which liked very much itself , however
Sheila wanted. The electric appliances, including
the Kangaroo and the astronaut, notwithstanding,
snow-boarded up the slope sadly, swam in the road
glady, flew under the sea madly.
Texts as language events
  • Self-contained
  • Well formed
  • Hang together (cohesion)
  • Make sense (coherent)
  • Clear purpose
  • Recognizable text types
  • Appropriate context of use
  • Follow expected pattern (schema)

Cohesion and Coherence impeccably well formed
language is typical of casual spontaneous
speech (including children) Halliday 198535
  • Cohesion hanging it all together
  • Coherence getting the message across (including
    pragmatic function)

  • Grammatical cohesion
  • Syntactic cohesion
  • Lexical cohesion
  • Semantic cohesion
  • Cohesive links
  • Cohesive devices

Grammatical cohesion
  • In the following texts identify the different
    kinds or errors
  • Jane like make fun English upper classes
  • No one make any reply. She then yawn again, throw
    aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room
    in quest of some amusement when hear her brother
    mention a ball to Miss Bennet, she turn suddenly
    towards him and say,
  • The brother of Jane is the teacher of my
  • To obtain informations on the musics used in the
    programme please write to our informations
    service. For advices on how to write musics for
    TV programmes please get in touch with our
    advices service.
  • she made not the smallest objection to his
    joining in the society of the neighbourhood

BUT texts still understandable even if not
grammatically cohesive. ( cfr Grices maxims
can be flouted, so can grammar rules. All
evidence that we strive to make sense of nay kind
of text (unless it is English people trying to
udnerstand foreign tourists!)
  • Typical natural language presents a high rate of
    ungrammatical text, so the study of
    ungrammaticalities cannot be ignored.
  • Parsing on Ungrammaticality
  • K.K. Yong and C. Huyck (UK)
  • Paper presented at AI and soft computing 2004

Syntactic cohesion
  • Has come yesterday John.
  • The sister of the girlfriend of the teacher of my
    brother is the teacher of my sister.
  • Not only he was rich, but handsome, too.

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Lexical cohesion - 2
  • Synonymy (the plan, thr project, the proposal)
  • Antonymy (good/bad, hot/cold, married/unmarried)
  • Hyponomy (furniture(superordinate)- table, chair,
    bed (co-hyponyms))
  • Paraphrasis ("Wilfing" - or surfing the web
    without any real purpose - )
  • Semantic field (weather cold, sun, rain,
    temperature, windy, forecast )
  • Collocations (patches of fog, join the army, have
    a party, sharp increase)
  • Lexical chunks (If I were you, I dont know, Best
    wishes, )

Semantic cohesion
  • She came into the room. He braked suddenly and
    the car swerved violently and crashed into the
    bus shelter. They were happy to be there
    together, but sorry the children werent there to
    enjoy the scene. Even though it might have been
    better to buy the bigger size, in case the
    children had a growth spurt.

Semantic cohesion - 2
  • A series of sentences may be well-formed
    grammatically, but lack semantic cohesion, and
    therefore does not meet the basic criteria to be
    considered a text. Semantic links between
    successive sentences are fundamental to cohesion
    and coherence. There must be thematic progression
    (see Halliday below)

Cohesive devices
  • Verb tenses
  • Referring expressions (anaphoric, cataphoric and
    exophoric reference)
  • Rhetorical questions
  • Repetition (words and structures)
  • Parallelism ( the rule of three)
  • Semantic fields (lexical cohesion)
  • Substitution (Do you like pizza? Yes, I do. )
  • Ellipsis (What are you doing? Playing chess )
  • Conjunctions

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  • And so let freedom ring from the prodigious
    hilltops of New Hampshire.
  • Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of
    New York.
  • Let freedom ring from the heightening
    Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
  •    Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies
    of Colorado.
  •    Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of
  •    But not only that
  •    Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of
  •    Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of
  •    Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill
    of Mississippi.
  • From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

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  • Conjuncts have a fundamental role in the cohesion
    of a text and may have various functions
  • Listing/Enumerative (indicating that what follows
    is a list of propositions) To start with, First,
    Second, Third
  • Additive (giving extra information, exemplifying
    a point, emphasising a point ) Too, also, in
    addition, for example, moreover etc
  • Summative (summing up, or concluding, on the
    preceding phrases/sentence(s)) To sum up, to
    conclude, in a word/ nutshell
  • Appositive (rephrasing the preceding sentence) in
    other words, what I mean is,

Conjuncts - 2
  • Resultative/inferential/causal (indicating that
    the content of the sentence is a result of the
    events expressed in the preceding
    sentence/paragraph and relations of cause and
    effect/outcome) therefore, thus, as a consequence
  • As a consequence of this approach, we have equal
    numbers of mean and women as head of unit.
  • Antithetic/adversative (contrasting the
    previously mentioned idea) but, though,
    alternatively, on the other hand, however
  • Concessive (indicating that the content of the
    sentence "exists" despite the content in the
    preceding sentence) however, while, despite, even
  • It is very cold. I went for my morning walk,
  • Temporal (indicating temporal relation between
    the contend of the sentence and the preceding
    sentence) while, during, ever since, next, later,

  • Texts can be perfectly cohesive but incoherent
  • Are these sentences coherent? If not, why not?
  • Which of you people is the fish?
  • Two seventy-nines, one medium sixty-three, three
    elevens, a mild forty-three, oh and whats the
    thirty three?
  • Give bob ball. Give ball. Give Bobby ball. Give.
  • They know what the house thinks.
  • if the visible of sprite 5 then go to the frame

Coherence - 2
  • language in use, for communication is called
    discourse and the search for what gives
    discourse coherence is discourse analysis.
  • Cook 1989 6
  • Discourse can be anything from a grunt or single
    expletive, through short conversations and
    scribbled notes right up to Tolstoys novel, War
    and Peace, or a lengthy legal case.

  • Write out different schemata for the following
    text types
  • Legal document
  • Business letter
  • Novel
  • Newspaper article
  • Joke
  • Job interview
  • Buying a ticket at the train station

Schemata - 2
  • We rely on our knowledge of the world
    (presuppositions) when interpreting situations.
    This includes cultural knowledge, linguistic
    knowledge and social knowledge.
  • Different views as to how these suppositions work
    (Lakoff vs Fullmore and Keenan vs Jackendoff)
  • Cultural conditions

Form to Function
  • To connect their knowledge with the language
    system people se reasoning, and pragmatic
    theories go some way towards explaining how
    people reason their way from the form to the
    function and thus construct coherent discourse
    from the language they receive Cook, p42-43
  • The interaction between knowledge, reasoning, and
    language is crucial to understanding discourse

Language functions - Jakobson
  • Emotive function (from Ugh! to Awesome)
  • Directive function ( with the purpose of
    affecting the behaviour of the addressee)
  • Phatic function (to open the discourse and
    monitor its reception)
  • Poetic function (including advertising slogans)
  • Referential function (conveying information)
  • Metalinguistic function (to talk about language)
  • Contextual function (to signpost the discourse)

  • Each of the above macro-functions can be broken
    down into subcategories, e.g.
  • orders requests for
  • requests requests for
  • Directive function pleas requests for help

  • questions requests for sympathy
  • prayers requests
    for forgiveness
  • Adapted from Cook, 1989, p 27
  • This list is not meant to be exhaustive and
    categories can be broken down further.
  • NB. Discourse can have more than one function

Conversational Principles
  • Grices Maxims cooperative principle
  • Be true (maxim of quality)
  • Be brief (maxim of quantity)
  • Be relevant (maxim of relevance)
  • Be clear (maxim of manner)
  • Akmajian et al refer to these as Conversational
    presumptions and divide sincerity and
    truthfulness the former refering to the
    speakers belief in what he/she is saying.

Politeness Principle
  • As social beings our ultimate aim is to interact
    with other people, i.e. social cohesion. In order
    to achieve this we obey certain unwritten rules
    regarding politeness. In other words, whenever
    possible we avoid being rude (not always
    depending on context see below)

Breaking rules
  • Cooperative principles are often violeted or
    flouted in Grices terminology. For example
    with hyperbole, metaphor, irony, sarcasm, double
    entendre etc. Or in the case of politicians, most
    maxims are routinely flouted.
  • However, the addressee must have sufficient
    knowledge of the language/context/culture to be
    able to know when the maxims are being purposely

  • Discourse should be appropriate to the context
  • Depends on power relations
  • Social expectations
  • Prior knowledge of social conventions required

The Appropriate Way to Greet the PM???
  • http//
  • http//

Inappropriate use of language can have
repercussions far wider than expected.
Catch phrases live much longer than international
declarations in the publics mind
  • Has 'Yo Blair' been replaced? Bumbling Berlusconi
    becomes Bush's new BFF
  • BFF
  • Best Friend Forever in chatroom speak
  • Daily Mail14.10.08

Analysing Texts and Contexts Top Down
  • Someone (Who by) communicates to someone else
    (Who for), who may or may not respond, about
    something (What), somewhere (Where), at a certain
    moment in time (When), using a chosen means
    (How), for some reason/purpose (Why)

Contexts and Register
  • The register of language depends on the context
    of the text whatever the medium and the

Register and language
  • Register can affect all features of language
    vocabulary, syntax, phonology, morphology,
    pragmatics and/or different paralinguistic
    features such as pitch, volume and intonation in
    spoken English.

Degrees of formality
  • There are not merely two kinds of register
    (formal and informal), nor are there clear
    boundaries between x kinds of register, but
    rather a continuum from highly formal to highly
    informal (aka vulgar!).

Register, varieties and dialect
  • Discourse highly complex context must also take
    into account such things as geographical
    varieties (including dialects), social class,
    age, and even time (e.g. the language used in an
    historical novel)
  • Once again there are no clear boundaries
  • When does a variety become a dialect?
  • - At what age should one stop using the language
    of youth?
  • - Are there more formal and less formal
    varieties of dialects?
  • - idiolects idiosyncracies
  • http//

Kinds of Meaning
  • There are often two types of meaning
  • Semantic meaning (literal meaning) depending on
    the words used
  • Pragmatic meaning which depends on the context in
    which the words occur
  • Sometimes the two may coincide often they do not

Theres a dead bird on the steps.
  • Literal/semantic meaning referential
  • Pragmatic function remove it

Infering meaning - 3
  • The meaning has to be the same for both speakers
    (Lakoff semantic presuppositions, assumptions
    about context Fillmore - set of conditions,
    presupposition that the context is appropriate
    Jackendoff shared presuppositions, presumption
    that the hearer has the same presuppositions
    see Akmajian et al p 346)
  • The presupposition must match the context. In the
    case of the snack Calvin has not thought about
    the context perhaps soon before dinner and with
    a mother who cares about diet Calvins
    presuppositions and those of his mother are not
    the same.

Infering meaning - 3
Dick Cheney walks into the Oval Office and sees
The President whooping and hollering. "What's
the matter, Mr. President?" The Vice President
inquired. "Nothing at all, boss. I just done
finished a jigsaw puzzle in record time!" The
President beamed. "How long did it take you?"
"Well, the box said '3 to 5 Years' but I did it
in a month!"
A Question
  • If the same words can mean completely different
    things in different contexts, how does the
    addressee know whether to interpret words
    literally or non-literally?

  • Linguistic knowledge alone is not enough to
    interpret discourse when Grices maxims are being
    flouted i.e. when an utterance has non-literal
  • We choose the most likely meaning according to
    our expectations and world, cultural, and
    linguistic knowledge

  • We choose the most likely meaning according to
    our expectations and world, cultural and
    linguistic knowledge

Context and Register Halliday
  • Halliday (1964) identifies three variables that
    determine context and as a result register field
    (the what of the discourse, i.e. the subject
    matter and the nature of the discourse), tenor
    (the who of the discourse, i.e. the
    participants and their relationships) and mode
    (the how i.e. the type of communication, e.g.
    spoken or written).
  • This is but one linguists terminology other
    linguists use other terms.

Context and Register Hymes (1)
  • Hymes (1972) identified other components of a
  • - participants (speaker audience)
  • - message form
  • - message content
  • - setting (where/when)
  • - medium of communication (spoken, written etc)
  • - intent of communication (purpose)
  • - effect of communication (outcome)
  • - the key (tone/register)
  • - the genre (text type)
  • - the norms of interaction (expectations)

Context and Register Hymes (2) To help you
  • S Setting and Scene
  • P Participants
  • E Ends
  • A Act Sequence
  • K Key
  • I Instrumentalities
  • N Norms
  • G Genre

Context and Register House (based on Crystal
and Davey)
  • House (1981 1997) talked about different
    dimensions 3 dimensions for the language
    user and 5 dimensions for language use
  • User Use
  • - geographic origin - medium
  • - social class - participation
  • - time - social role relationship
  • - social attitude
  • - province
  • - member of sub-group??
  • - cultural and social relationships

Power relations
  • Much of the register of an interaction is
    dictated by the power relations between the
    interlocutors. Both participants must, however,
    have the same understanding of this power
    relationship if the rights and obligations of the
    participants are to be respected. If not this can
    result in either offence or embrassment. This
    knowledge is often culture-bound. Compare power
    relationships in Eastern cultures with those in
    the Western world.

Underlying forces
  • The force of what is said can vary depending on
    how the language is used.
  • Austin and Searles Speech act theory
  • Locution the information conveyed
  • Illocution the act performed
  • Perlocution the main aim of the discourse (the

  • Top down
  • social relationships
  • shared knowledge
  • discourse type
  • discourse structure
  • discourse function
  • schemata (ritual and repertoire)
  • cohesion
  • grammar and lexis
  • sounds and letters
  • bottom up
  • (Adapted from Cook, 1989, p80)

  • Cook, G (1989) Discourse Oxford Oxford
    University Press.
  • Cutting, J. (2002) Pragmatics and Discourse A
    resource book for students
  • Halliday, M.A.K. (1964) Comparison and
    translation. In M.A.K. Halliday, M.McIntosh and
    P. Strevens, The linguistic sciences and language
    teaching. London Longman.
  • Halliday, M.A.K. (1985) Dimensions of discourse
    analysis grammar in T. A. van Dijk (1985)
    Handbook of Discourse Analysis vol 2 London
    academic Press
  • House, J. (1981) 1997) A Model for Translation
    Quality Assessment. Tuebigen Gunter Narr Verlag
  • Hymes, D. (1972) Models of the Interaction and
    Social Life in Gumperz, J. J. and Hymes, D.
    (1972) Directions in Sociolinguistics The
    Ethnography of Communication New York Holt,
    Rhinehart Winston.
  • McCarthy, M. (1991) Discourse analysis for
    Language Teachers Cambridge CUP
  • Thornbury, S. (2005) Beyond the Sentence
    introducing discourse analysis London Macmillan