Introduction to Text Linguistics
This theoretical course designed by Prof. Dr. Ivan A. Bekhta is part of the
university curriculum programme:
Objectives and competences
This is an introduction to English text-linguistics in the domain of its
major concepts and modern trends. It deals with major properties of the
texts such as the processes with which speakers modify their utterances to
fit the communication frames and various social contexts. It rests on those
areas of text-linguistics that have enjoyed widespread attention in English
linguistics, notably aspects of cohesion and coherence (R. Hassan and M.A.K.
Halliday (1976), R. de Beaugrande and W. Dressler (1981). Lecture topics are
nowaday corpus-based studies in lexical patterns and in text classifications,
psycholinguistic and cognitive studies in text constitution and
decoder-orientation (M. Riffaterre). Special feature of this course is that
it covers abstract lexical and grammatical structures as well as
medium-dependent or medium-independent written and spoken presentation (J.
In order to successfully participate in in-class discussions and to follow
the lectures, the student should take the introductory linguistic courses:
phonology, lexicology, syntax, stylistics, pragmatics, cognitive linguistics,
Content (Syllabus outline)
The course is devoted to the study of texts and their specific properties
with the focus on the M.A.K. Halliday’s theory of language (FSL) and the R.
Hassan’s genre model. Concepts such as genre in the literary theory and
linguistics and in the frame of modern methodological approaches related to
it; the communication role of language, context with special focus on
situation and cultural context; discourse; text, contextual and
communicative semantics, and text structures; cohesion; rhetorical structure
and rhetorical units, etc. The course is primarily interested in the study
of semantic structure of text and the role of relation between the
rhetorical units and the semantic structure. Main source of data to work on
is a tagged corpus.
1. Beaugrande, R. de (1980): Text, Discourse and Process: Toward a Multi-disciplinary
Science of Texts. – London: Longman, 1980. – 351 p.
2. Beaugrande, R. de (1994): "Text linguistics" // The Encyclopedia of
Language and Linguistics, ed. R. E. Asher. – Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1994. –
3. Beaugrande, R. de (1997): New Foundations for a Science of Text and
Discourse: Cognition, Communication, and the Freedom of Access to Knowledge
and Society. – Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1997. –
4. Beaugrande, R. & W. Dressier. Introduction to Text Linguistics. – L.:
Longman, 1981. – 270 p.
5. Biber, D. (1989): "A typology of English texts" // Linguistics, 1989. –
P. 27, 3-43.
6. Biber, D. & E. Finegan (1986): "An initial typology of English text types",
Corpus Linguistics //, ed. J. Aarts & W. Meijs. – Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1989. –
7. Brown, G. & G. Yule (1983): Discourse Analysis. – Cambridge: CUP, 1983. –
8. Bussmann, H. (1996): Routledge Dictionary of Language and Linguistics. –
London: Routledge, 1996. – 530 p.
11. Danes, F. (1974): "Functional sentence perspective and the organization
of the text", Papers on Functional Sentence Perspective, ed. F. Danes. – The
Hague: Mouton, 1974. – P. 106-128.
12. Dijk, T. A. van (1977): Text and Context: Explorations in the Semantics
and Pragmatics of Discourse. – London: Longman, 1977. – P. 93-129.
13. Enkvist, N. E. (1991): "Discourse strategies and discourse types",
Functional and Systemic Linguistics: Approaches and Uses, ed. E. Ventola. –
Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991. – P. 3-22.
14. Grice, H. P. (1975): "Logic and Conversation", Speech Acts // ed. P.
Cole & J. L. Morgan. – New York: Academic Press, 1975. – P. 41-58.
15. Sinclair, J. (ed.) (1995): Collins Cobuild English Dictionary. – London:
Harper Collins, 1995. –
16. Halliday, M. A. K., Hassan, R., 1989: Language, Context and Text:
Aspects of Language in a social–semiotic perspective. – Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1989. – P. 51-118.
17. Halliday, M. A. K. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. – L.: Edward
Arnold, 1985. – 387 p.
Attending lectures, a term written paper (synopsis – 15 pages → margins: 14
Times New Roman, 1,5 interval, top →2.2 cm x bottom →2 cm x left →2,7 cm x
right →1,7 cm; reference literature list 25 entries), oral examination,
participation in in-class discussions.
DEAD LINE: SYNOPSIS PAPERS ARE ASCRIBABLE TO SUBMISSION TWO WEEKS BEFORE
Credit Questionnaire’s Topics
1. The scope of text-linguistics – text as an object of linguistic research
This lecture concentrates on the analysis of approaches to text study in
terms of literary criticism and linguistics and on the identification of
common features and differences in various types of analysis: literary
criticism studies the development of literature and the literary process as
such, while linguistics concerns itself with the analysis of the functions
of the linguistic units a person uses while constructing their pattern and
the principles of text generation as well as with the development of certain
methodological approaches to study and description of the text as an object
of linguistic research.
2. Essentials of text-linguistics – defining text: the terms “text” and
This lecture deals with the key terms of text linguistics – 'text’ and
'discourse’, ‘textual analysis’, ‘discourse analysis’ as linguistic terms.
What do they have in common and how are they distinguished? The comparison
shows that the everyday meanings of text and discourse reflect a remarkable
affinity between the respective senses of being bound to one topic or being
always more than just a word or a sentence. The basic difference is that
text is only viewed as a product and discourse is viewed as a process in a
larger communicative setting.
3. Studying 'text': the heterogeneity of approaches – the most typical
features of “text” as a prototype category
This lecture concentrates on the following aspects of text analysis: text
structure and its consequentiality; text grammar and its relation to
stylistics (text as an intended use of verbal devices depending on the area
of communication and on the general sub goals of the speaker; the origin of
text linguistics and linguistic and cultural approach to the text, – and
text units (complex syntactic entity and transition units classified as
belonging to the level of suprasyntax).
4. Semiotics of the text: structure – notion of a complex syntactic entity
This lecture is devoted to text units, the complex syntactic entity (CSE)
being the major one. This is a transitional phenomenon combining features of
syntactic units as such, units of a language system, and text. Various CSE
characteristics are studied including notional integrity and linguistic
coherence, as well as paragraph as CSE display format. Text is defined
as a linguistic object being the main unit of communication. Order of clause
elements: signaling information flow. Objective and subjective order. Linear
thematic progression (František Daneš). Realization of clause elements:
referencing and establishing cohesion by referring back and forward.
Pronouns. Determiners. Comparison. Substitution. Ellipsis. Lexical cohesion.
Place relators. Time relators and tense marking. Referring forward.
Connecting clauses in clause complexes and beyond. Syntactic coordination –
parataxis. Syntactic subordination – hypotaxis. Textual linkage of clause
complexes. Corpus-linguistic approaches to the study of words in texts.
Lexical patterns. Collocation and naturalness.
5. Semiotics of the text: semantics – functional semantic units of the text
During this lecture functional semantic units of the text are analyzed as
well as the relations between the complex syntactic entity as a structural
unit, the paragraph as a model or compositional unit, and the micro topic.
Special emphasis is laid on text components characterizing the narrator’s
discourse types, i.e. description, narration, and reasoning.
6. Semiotics of the text: pragmatics – studying text meaning
This lecture concentrates on the reasoning, the third type of functional
semantic (or compositional) units. The author emphasizes that in this case
the text type is of another quality reflecting the area of the mental
process. The author analyzes the potential of text studies using the method
of identification of its following components: structural (complex syntactic
entities), informative (functional semantic speech types), registers, theme-lines
as possible units helping to interpret a text containing various information.
7. Formal Texture: medium-independent elements and structures
This lecture is devoted to comprehension of the complex object of text
linguistics, which is text treated holistically as an integral phenomenon
generated in the process of language communication embedded in a broad
cultural context. These three concepts which are treated as a unity and at
the same time as three aspects of defining the object of text linguistics
are: text, utterance, and discourse. In this lecture we deal with formal
text constituents that are overtly expressed in either medium: actual words
that we hear or see. More precisely we deal with strings of 'word-forms'
that were actually spoken or written. In the medium-independent approach to
text-linguistics we concentrate on linguistic elements and structures that
are subject to medium-transferability, which means that such elements and
structures can be transferred from speech to writing and from writing to
speech without loss of information.
8. Textual characteristics and text units: criteria of textuality
The lecture concentrates on the idea of R. de Beaugrande and W. Dressler
(1981), who give thought to the notion of text. They determine what makes
the text a unified meaningful whole rather than a mere string of unrelated
words and sentences. They set up seven standards of textuality. They believe
that these standards of textuality enable text analysis to be applicable to
a wide variety of areas of practical concern: the textuality of the text
depends on the communicative features it contains. These are cohesion,
coherence, intentionality, acceptability, informativity, situationality, and
9. Text-centred criteria: cohesion and coherence
What is the difference between 'cohesion' and 'coherence'? Cohesion is the
network of lexical, grammatical, and other relations that provide links
between various parts of a text. Cohesion is seen as a non-structural
semantic relation between a pronoun and its antecedent in a preceding
sentence, expressing at each stage in the discourse the point of context
with what has gone before. M.A.K. Halliday and R. Hassan (1976) establish
five cohesion categories: reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunctions,
and lexical cohesion. Coherence is concerned with cognitive models that help
us to understand texts. Important components of such models are causality
and temporal relations. The coherence of a text is a result of the
interaction between knowledge presented in the text and the reader's own
knowledge and experience of the world, the latter being influenced by a
variety of factors such as age, sex, race, nationality, education,
occupation, and political and religious affiliations.
10. User-centred criteria: cohesion and coherence
Intentionality is the first of the user-centered notions and describes the
psychological rationale of the text producer. A text-producer normally seeks
to achieve a purpose or goal (e.g. persuasion, instruction, request,
information, etc.) based on a given plan. Acceptability relates to the
rationale of a message receiver. It is very much affected by the reader's
social and cultural background. Informativity deals with how the mind
computes information. Situationality concerns the factors which make a text
RELEVANT to a SITUATION of occurrence (Beaugrande/Dressler 1981). It is
classified as a social standard. Intertextuality deals with social aspects
of text interpretation. This means that we often can classify a text on the
ground of medium-dependent or medium-independent features: e.g. a page from
a dictionary or a narrative and an official document. Such classifications
are possible because we have seen many instances of similar texts. Therefore,
in this case intertextuality is not related to specific wordings or thoughts
but to text-types.
11. Medium-independent structures vs. medium-dependent presentation
This lecture deals with the medium-bound properties of texts: graphic layout
and intonation. Very often the medium-bound properties of texts are not
considered and ignored. But in a
more comprehensive approach to text-linguistics, medium-dependent
presentation has its place. Also, in the wake of an increased awareness of
the media, of more presentational possibilities with computers, electronic
hypertexts and the Internet, questions of medium-bound presentation have
become an issue in text-linguistics. Basic for the recognition of a
'notional paragraph' is the chain of medium-independent word-forms, usually
comprising more than only one clause or clause complex. The clauses and
clause complexes in a notional paragraph are linked by lexical or
grammatical cohesion. What is common to typological practices, i.e.
justified and unjustified setting, is that the cohesive function of the
typological arrangement pertains to the paragraph as a whole and not to
subsections such as clauses or phrases. The main graphological devices one
can make use of are paragraphing, spacing, and capitalisation, alongside the
normal range of other punctuation marks, some of which tend to be used
idiosyncratically for this variety.
12. Corpus-linguistic approaches to the classification of texts – genres,
registers and text-types
Notions of genres, registers, text-types, styles like many notions in
linguistics are bound to specific theories and must be explained with more
basic concepts. Following Enkvist (1973), we classed such terms as "notational
terms". In the framework of this lecture the meanings of 'genre', 'register'
and 'text-type' are interrelated and, as there is a progress of
sophistication from genre to register to text-type to style. In fact, there
exist different terminology and definitions over the years. These
differences, however, are not relevant for the purpose at hand. 'Genre' is
understood as a text-external notion. It is used to classify texts mainly
according to the criteria 'medium', 'participation' and 'field of discourse'
(J. Esser). Registers, in this view, may be distinguished according to field
of discourse, mode of discourse and style of discourse. Almost all the
genres are spread over several text-types and all the text-types contain
texts from several genres.
13. Formal Texture: medium-dependent presentation
The acceptability of a text as belonging to a certain text-type depends on
layout features. It is therefore part of the competence of a text producer
and a reader to know about the presentational conventions that help to
classify texts. One of the most salient features of external macrostructure
concerns the length of a text. There is an interrelation between
medium-independent structure and medium-dependent layout that can be
observed in electronic texts. In these cases, too, it is possible to name
the text-type without recognizing the medium-independent word-forms. Perhaps
the most salient feature of phonological word-forms is that they are usually
not set off by pauses that could be compared to the spaces surrounding
orthographic word-forms. The independence of medium-independent syntactic
structure and medium-dependent intonation structure has its long history (Bolinger
1958) with then often futile discussions about intonation and grammar.
14. Psycholinguistic and cognitive aspects of text constitution
This lecture considers text linguistic aspects that rely not only on the
wording of texts but also on the human language user and his psychological
and cognitive disposition. The language user's expectations, which are based
on previous encounters of language use, help him to understand and to
formulate new texts. However, there is the practical descriptive problem
that the encounters of language use of individuals are not recorded as such
and are therefore not empirically verifiable. There exist two theoretical
models that try to approach previous encounters of language use. One model
is to approximate an average language user by consulting a corpus that aims
at representing language use, as for example the British National Corpus (Burnard
1995). The other model is to give a psychological explanation for why some
wordings are preferred to others. This model is known as 'priming'. There
are two conceptual spheres that are separate and yet related: on the one
hand the mental representations of situations and world knowledge and on the
other the linguistic encodings of such mental representations in terms of
word-forms and constructions. Fillmore (1977) uses the terms 'scene' and
'frame' to designate these two spheres. In the context of text-linguistics
this means that a text decoder draws on previous knowledge (textual or of
the world) for a proper understanding of the text. A text may have one (or
more) of an indefinitely large number of purposes: description, persuasion,
narrative, etc. But irrespective of the various purposes and general
intentions of a text, there are a few relationships within texts that
constantly recur. They can be seen as basic relational structures. (Quirk et
al. 1985: 1433)
15. Decoder-orientation – textual rhetoric, processibility, optimizing texts
This lecture concentrates on the semantic aspects of text constitution and
on those psycholinguistic and cognitive aspects that centre around the
regard that a text producer has for the decoder of his message. The central
notion here is 'textual rhetoric', which can be understood as an umbrella
term that covers various aspects of decoder-orientation. After a discussion
of the main components of textual rhetoric two other specific issues are
considered, namely processibility and optimizing texts. The notion of
'textual rhetoric' was introduced by Leech, who uses the notion 'rhetoric'
slightly differently from its traditional meanings. The aim of textual
rhetoric is to facilitate the decoder's task. Processibility is only one
principle of textual rhetoric besides clarity, economy and expressivity.
More specifically, the processibility principle was formulated in two maxims,
that of medium-independent end-focus being understood in terms of length and
16. Textual intentions – Deep structure genres, Discourse types
This lecture concerns with the text-producer, namely what he intends by
producing a text. In other words: why is the text-producer producing the
text? Textual intentions is one of the main trends in text-linguistics. T
van Dijk, one of the proponents of this trend, views linguistic actions as a
special kind of action performed by human beings. He assumes that texts can
have both local intentions and global intentions. There are various attempts
to classify the intentions of text-producers in terms of 'global text
functions'. These are sometimes called genre or text-type. Unfortunately,
these two expressions are highly polysemous. In the present account of text-linguistics
we have understood genre to designate external and sometimes semantic
classifications of texts as, for example, the components of corpora. On the
other hand, the expression text-type designates "groupings of texts that are
similar with respect to their linguistic form" (Biber 1988). Longacre
distinguishes four kinds of deep structure genre which have had a long
tradition. They may be understood to represent different global speech acts:
in a 'narrative' discourse we recount events, in a 'procedural' discourse we
tell someone how to do something, in a 'behavioral' discourse we try to
influence someone's conduct, and if the discourse is 'expository' we explain
a subject matter (Longacre 1976). Longacre points out that these genres are
universal. They are not language-specific and not tied to specific surface
forms. Virtanen describes conclusively the interplay between what has been
termed so far 'global text functions' or 'deep structure genre' on the one
hand, and 'text-types' that are based on their linguistic form on the other
P.S. For any additional information on the course feel free to
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