Modes of Discourse: The Local Structure of Texts

By Carlota S. Smith | Go to book overview

10 Information in text passages

This chapter brings together the main points of Discourse Mode, subjectivity, and presentational progression; and analyzes passages of text with the tools developed above. Section 10.1 gives the basic points of each area of analysis, with a reprise of the criteria for determining Primary Referents and sentence topics. Section 10.2 analyzes text passages of the five Discourse Modes, according to temporality and types of entities, I discuss temporal, spatial, and metaphorical progression. For each passage, I also consider subjectivity and presentational factors. Section 10.3 presents a temporal and an atemporal DRS, with information about Discourse Mode and subjectivity.


10.1 The Discourse Modes

To introduce the discussion I summarize the characteristics of the Discourse Modes. They fall into two classes, temporal and atemporal, according to the main types of situation introduced in each mode.

The temporal modes are Narrative, Report, and Description. They introduce situations that are located in the world. In Narrative, events and states are related to each other in time; the text progresses with bounded events interpreted in sequence, and/or time adverbials. In Reports, events, states, and General Statives are related to Speech Time: texts progress back and forth. The mode of Description has events and states, and time is static. The text progresses spatially through a scene. Text progression in Description depends on lexical information, unlike the two other temporal modes.

The Information and Argument modes are atemporal. General Statives predominate in the Information mode, while Argument has both General Statives and abstract entities. Text progression in these modes proceeds by metaphorical motion through the domain of the text. Motion, or lack of it, depends on the Primary Referent in a clause; it occurs when metaphorical location changes.

The Primary Referent is semantically central in the situation expressed by a clause. The Primary Referent of an Event is the entity which moves or changes;

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Modes of Discourse: The Local Structure of Texts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • I Discourse Structure 5
  • 1: The Study of Discourse 7
  • 2: Introduction to the Discourse Modes 22
  • 3: Text Representation and Understanding 49
  • II: Linguistic Analysis of the Discourse Modes 65
  • 4: Aspectual Information 67
  • 5: Temporal and Spatial Progression 92
  • 6: Referring Expressions in Discourse 123
  • III: Surface Presentational Factors 153
  • 7: Subjectivity in Texts 155
  • 8: The Contribution of Surface Presentation 185
  • 9: Non-Canonical Structures and Presentation 213
  • IV: Discourse Modes and Their Context 241
  • 10: Information in Text Passages 243
  • 11: Discourse Structure and Discourse Modes 258
  • Appendix A - The Texts 267
  • Appendix B - Glossary 286
  • References 294
  • General Index 314
  • Index of Names 318
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