Theme in discourse
‘Thematic progression’ and ‘method of development’ re-evaluated
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.
Published online: 13 October 2004
Cited by 5 other publications
Chen, Ruina & Haitao Liu
Liu, Lijin & Gordon Tucker
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