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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2010

Carlota S. Smith
Affiliation:
University of Texas, Austin
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Summary

This book is a partial answer to the question: what can close linguistic analysis bring to the understanding of discourse? Discourse studies have focused on pragmatic factors such as genre expectations, discourse coherence relations, and inference. In part this has been a natural reaction to earlier, rather unsuccessful attempts to apply the techniques of linguistic analysis beyond the sentence. The current emphasis also follows from increased understanding of the area of pragmatics, and of the role of context in language use and interpretation.

It has sometimes seemed, though, that nothing at all is conveyed by linguistic forms, while everything is due to pragmatics or lexical content. I attempt to right the balance here, at least in part. I propose a local level of discourse, the Discourse Mode, which has linguistic properties and discourse meaning. I posit five modes: Narrative, Report, Descriptive, Information, and Argument.

The Discourse Modes are classes of discourse passages, defined by the entities they introduce into the universe of discourse and their principle of progression. The discourse entities are essentially aspectual. They include the familiar Events and States, and some less-familiar categories. The Discourse Modes grew out of my work on aspect and tense. In studies of situation types in discourse, I noticed interesting differences between passages of different types. Investigating further, I arrived at the Discourse Modes. If I am right about their contribution to discourse, they make it clear that temporality is one of the key sub-systems in language.

Type
Chapter
Information
Modes of Discourse
The Local Structure of Texts
, pp. 1 - 4
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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  • Introduction
  • Carlota S. Smith, University of Texas, Austin
  • Book: Modes of Discourse
  • Online publication: 18 June 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615108.002
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  • Introduction
  • Carlota S. Smith, University of Texas, Austin
  • Book: Modes of Discourse
  • Online publication: 18 June 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615108.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Carlota S. Smith, University of Texas, Austin
  • Book: Modes of Discourse
  • Online publication: 18 June 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615108.002
Available formats
×