Abstract/Details

PRAGMATIC ASPECTS OF ENGLISH TEXT STRUCTURE


1980 1980

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Abstract (summary)

This study is an integration of two frequently independent fields of inquiry in linguistics, text analysis and pragmatics. It brings together the focus in text analysis on the structural and cohesive aspects of monolog discourses, with the focus in pragmatics on the relations between individual sentences and the communicative context in which they are uttered. The perspectives of text analysis and pragmatics are linked in an examination of the relations between the structure of written English texts and one aspect of the communicative context: an author's assumptions about the knowledge of his reader.

This study makes five major contributions to the discipline of linguistics. First, it applies recent research in human knowledge structure to the analysis of texts. Second, it makes a theoretical contribution by suggesting elaborations on present models of human knowledge structure. Third, it relates the occurrence and function of certain structural features of English texts, the form of first mention references and author comments, to author assumptions about the knowledge of his reader. Fourth, by associating certain features of text structure with author assumptions about the knowledge of the reader, the study suggests a heuristic methodology for reconstructing or discovering these assumptions as they are reflected in a specific text. Fifth, it presents a taxonomy of communication situations useful in organizing data for text research.

The study applies recent studies in human knowledge structure, especially from the fields of artificial intelligence and sociology, to text analysis. Frame is the key notion borrowed from these disciplines. A frame is described as one of the basic organizational structures of a person's knowledge. The theory of frames is shown to be a crucial importance to the examination of author assumptions in texts, in that authors normally make assumptions (consciously or subconsciously) about the frame(s) of the reader's knowledge which are relevant to the context of their text, rather than about the entirety of the reader's knowledge. The study elaborates the theory of frames first by including in it a person's knowledge of particular items via the notions of scene and routine. Also the term foregrounded is proposed to refer to the specific frame(s) which is relevant to a particular text, and the term cue to refer to the means whereby a speaker/author indicates to his hearer/reader which of his frames to foreground.

Various structural features of English written texts are shown to be reflective of the assumptions an author makes regarding his reader's knowledge. One structural feature of texts examined in detail is the form of first mention references: the use of articles, possessive pronouns, proper names, and technical terms.

The author comments of a text are another of its structural features which correlate with the assumptions an author makes concerning the knowledge of the reader. Author comments are divided into four types: explanatory, opinion, incidental, and thematic. The occurrence of each of these types in a text reflects a different aspect of the author's assumptions. Author comments are further shown to have several grammatical markings, such as demonstrative pronouns, sentence adverbs, and extraposition sentences.

The examination of the form of first mention references and author comments in texts suggests a heuristic methodology for determining the assumptions an author has made about his reader's knowledge. General principles are given for interpreting an author's assumptions based on such structural clues. The study is concluded with an in-depth analysis of the author assumptions indicated in a single, entire text.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Linguistics
Classification
0290: Linguistics
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics
Title
PRAGMATIC ASPECTS OF ENGLISH TEXT STRUCTURE
Author
JONES, LARRY BERT
Number of pages
244
Publication year
1980
Degree date
1980
School code
2502
Source
DAI-A 41/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
University/institution
The University of Texas at Arlington
University location
United States -- Texas
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
8022982
ProQuest document ID
288263779
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/288263779
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