Advances in Written Text Analysis

By Malcolm Coulthard | Go to book overview

3

Signalling in discourse: a functional analysis of a common discourse pattern in written and spoken English

Michael Hoey


THE PURPOSE OF THE CHAPTER

This chapter is a much reduced version of a monograph first published in 1979. Although I find myself in the fortunate position of not disagreeing with what I said all those years ago, there was inevitably much in the original monograph that has little relevance to the present day. Rather than engage in substantial rewriting, I have largely confined my revising role to cutting what is no longer of interest and have altered the wording in only minor ways. With the solitary exception of an additional reference to a book by Michael Jordan, I have made no attempt to update the bibliography, though I have removed most of the referencing that the monograph contained. If a survey of the relevant literature of the period is desired, the reader is invited to consult the original monograph. I hope, though, that those readers familiar with the monograph will feel that I have retained the essence of what it had to offer and that the much larger body of readers who have never read or heard of it will feel that it was worth the archaeological effort to bring it to light again after all these years. The original monograph was dedicated to Eugene Winter. Articles are not normally dedicated to anyone but my debt to Eugene Winter will be apparent throughout.

The chapter attempts to examine the way in which monologue structures are efficiently signalled to listeners or readers. It concentrates specifically on the way in which a particular English discourse structure—the Problem-Solution structure—is signalled by the means of questions and vocabulary items of a particular type. The chapter does not, however, pretend to present a complete explanation of the complexities of monologues nor of their signalling systems; it should be taken rather as a first exploration which exposes as many questions as it answers.


PREVIOUS WORK ON THE PROBLEM-SOLUTION STRUCTURE

The structure for which I shall attempt to demonstrate the signalling mechanisms is one that has been sporadically identified as important for over forty years, and is commonly referred to as the Problem-Solution structure.

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