Fries (1981) hypothesises that the textual phenomena of ‘thematic progression’ (TP) (Danesˇ 1974) and ‘method of development’ (MOD) provide discourse evidence for the function proposed by Halliday (1967) for Theme, in particular that ‘initial position in the sentence, or sentence-level Theme, means “point of departure of the sentence as message”‘. This paper discusses the theoretical basis for this hypothesis, in particular the relation between TP and MOD, and reviews previous empirical research. Further research conducted by the author is described, into global proportions of TP, TP patterning, and the relation between TP and rhematic progression (RP) in a small corpus of 80 short argumentative texts. It was found that only small proportions of either argumentative text, or high-quality argumentative text could be considered as having a MOD. It was also found that texts had comparable levels of TP and RP. It is concluded that MOD is not a universal feature of discourse organisation, and therefore not conclusive evidence for Fries’s original hypothesis.
2023. Reading Research Genre: The Impact of Thematic Progression. RELC Journal 54:1 ► pp. 129 ff.
Chen, Ruina & Haitao Liu
2016. A discursive analytical path of appellate court opinions: evaluation of ideological positioning in Bush v. Gore 2000. Text & Talk 36:4
2006. The effect of position on the discourse scope of adverbials. Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse Communication Studies 26:3 ► pp. 245 ff.
Holgueras-Galán, Artevic, Jesús David Guerra-Lyons & Nayibe Rosado-Mendinueta
2023. argumentación escrita al inicio de la carrera. Perfiles Educativos 45:179 ► pp. 94 ff.
Liu, Lijin & Gordon Tucker
2015. Thematic choice and progression in English and Chinese radio news texts: a systemic functional analysis. Text & Talk 35:4
2017. Towards multiple hyperTheme: Theme beyond the clause. Text & Talk 37:6 ► pp. 663 ff.
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