Techniques of Description: Spoken and Written Discourse : a Festschrift for Malcolm Coulthard

Techniques of Description: Spoken and Written Discourse : a Festschrift for Malcolm Coulthard

Techniques of Description: Spoken and Written Discourse : a Festschrift for Malcolm Coulthard

Techniques of Description: Spoken and Written Discourse : a Festschrift for Malcolm Coulthard

Synopsis

This book is a tribute to Malcolm Coulthard, who has been remarkably active and influential across a wide range of English Language Studies. He is particularly well-known for his pioneering work in spoken and written discourse analysis and most recently, for his work in forensic linguistics. This collection of specially commissioned, state-of-the-art pieces by leading international linguists is dedicated to the man and his achievements and provides a showcase for the most exciting developments in applied discourse studies.All the papers share common assumptions about language study: that descriptions should be data-based, data-tested and replicable. The collection as a whole contains original and important new research on descriptions, with intriuging applications to forensic, gender and literary studies.

Excerpt

The authors represented in this book are united in their admiration of Malcolm Coulthard’s contribution to language study. The range of his interests is reflected in his bibliography; the value of his contribution is discussed in a separate tribute by one of the editors. If, though, admiration had been all that united the contributors to this book, a sprawling and disparate collection would have been the likely result. Far from this being the case, this book is in the editors’ view a satisfyingly homogeneous work. The reason is that all the contributors to it share certain assumptions about language study.

These assumptions are as follows. First, description has to be based on data; none of the chapters in this book relies on intuition as the sole source of evidence. Second, description has to be tested against data, which may take the form of a corpus or of a chosen text (or both). Third, description has to be based on replicable techniques; hence the title of this work. Fourth, any kind of description cannot be undertaken in splendid isolation from all other kinds; so grammatical description leads to lexical, lexical description leads to discoursal, discoursal to phonological and so on. Finally, description will often serve a purpose; descriptions are insightful tools and may result in people developing a new interpretation of a literary text, altering their way of teaching language, arguing for the innocence or guilt of a suspect or exposing discrimination in the way language reports the world. Unsurprisingly, all five assumptions also underlie Malcolm Coulthard’s work.

Three chapters are concerned with ways of describing rather than with purposes of describing. In his chapter John Sinclair offers an ambitious way of talking about the structure of text which rejects many of the assumptions made about the relationship of cohesion and coherence. Redefining cohesion in such a way that it axiomatically creates coherence, he shows that it is possible to analyse an article ‘dynamically’, working on the premise that sentences either encapsulate the whole of the previous text or prospect the following sentence. The technique he describes is spelt out in such a way that it should be possible for readers to try it out for themselves.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.