Advances in Written Text Analysis

By Malcolm Coulthard | Go to book overview

4

Clause relations as information structure: two basic text structures in English

Eugene Winter


INTRODUCTION TO CLAUSE RELATIONS

This chapter describes two basic discourse structures in English within their linguistic contexts, noting that the study of written discourse should include the following perspectives of language use:

(a) A study of the grammar of the clause in the sentence. This includes such connective devices as conjunctions and their lexical paraphrases (lexical metalanguage), other adverbials, substitutes of various kinds and repetition, which includes the replacement of the clause (see examples 1-5 for this on pp. 51 and 52), tense, modality, aspect etc., all of which signal the place of the clause in its sentence with respect to clauses in adjoining sentences.

Preview of some repetition and replacement

(The repetition structure is shown in italics, with the remainder of the clause as replacement change)

1 ‘What we have still not forgiven him for’, she says, ‘is that he [Mozart] reasoned’ Miss Brophy, whose spiritual home is the eighteenth century enlightenment, also reasons.

2 The symbols seem easy to the point of glibness. So does the scepticism that repeatedly informs them.

3 No Russian wants to conquer the world. Some Americans do, on the best crusading grounds.

4 ‘Little boys don’t play with dolls, girls play with dolls. ’

5 ‘The bee didn’t get tired—it got dead. ’

(b) A study of the basic clause relations. These are the sequential relations between clauses, both inside the grammatical domain of their sentences and immediately outside this domain—the significant sequence of grouped sentences whose sequence may be further signalled by the connective devices mentioned in (a).

(c) A study of the two basic discourse structures in English whose meanings

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