The concept of cohesion
If a speaker of English hears or reads a passage of the language which is more than one sentence in length, he can normally decide without difficulty whether it forms a unified whole or is just a collection of unrelated sentences. This book is about what makes the difference between the two. The word TEXT is used in linguistics torefer to any passage, spoken or written, of whatever length, that does form a unified whole. We know, as a general rule, whether any specimen of our own language constitutes a TEXT or not. This does not mean there can never be any uncertainty. The distinction between a text and a collection of unrelated sentences is in the last resort a matter of degree, and there may always be instances aboutwhich we are uncertain – a point that is probably familiar to most teachers from reading their students' compositions. But this does not invalidate the general observation that we are sensitive to the distinction between what is text and what is not. This suggests that there are objective factors involved – there must be certain features which are characteristic of texts and not found otherwise; andso there arc. We shall attempt to identify these, in order to establish what are the properties of texts in English, and what it is that distinguishes a text from a disconnected sequence of sentences. As always in linguistic description, we shall be discussing things that the native speaker of the language 'knows' already – but without knowing that he knows them. A text may be spoken or written,prose or verse, dialogue or monologue. It may be anything from a single proverb to a whole play, from a momentary cry for help to an all-day discussion on a committee. A text is a unit of language in use. It is not a grammatical unit, like a clause or a sentence; and it is not defined by its size. A text is sometimes
LI THE CONCEPT OF COHESION
envisaged to be sonickind of super-sentence, a grammatical unit that is larger than a sentence hut is related to a sentence in the same way that a sentence is related to a clause, a clause to a group and so on: by CONSTITUENCY, the composition of larger units out of smaller ones. But this is misleading. A text is not something that is like a sentence, only bigger; it is something that differs from a sentence in kind.A text is best regarded as a SEMANTIC unit: a unit not of form but of meaning. Thus it is related to a clause or sentence not by size but by REALIZ ATioN,thecodingof nesymbolicsytemina other.Atex does not CONSIST OF sentences; it is REALIZED BY, or encoded in, sentences. If we understand it in this way, we shall not expect to find the same kind of S TR U CT URAL integration among the parts of atext as we find among the parts of a sentence or clause. The unity of a text is a unity of a different kind.
of both the referring item and the item that it refers to. In other words, it is not enough that there should be a presupposition; the presupposition must also be satisfied. This accounts for the humorous effect produced by the radio comedian who began his act with thesentence [1:2] So we pushed him under the other one. This sentence is loaded with presuppositions, located in the words so, him, other and one, and, since it was the opening sentence, none of them could be resolved. What is the MEANING of the cohesive relation between them and six cooking apples? The meaning is that they refer to the same thing. The two items arc identical in reference, or C 0 REFEREN TIA L. The cohesive agency in this instance, that which provides the texture, is the coreferentiality of them and six cooking apples. The signal, or the expression, of this coreferentiality is the presence of the potentially anaphoric item them in the second sentence together with a potential target item six cooking apples in the first. Identity of reference is not the only meaning relation...