Chapter published in:Implicitness: From lexis to discourse
Edited by Piotr Cap and Marta Dynel
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 276] 2017
► pp. 235–257
The dynamics of discourse
Quantity meets quality
This chapter argues for a dynamic perspective on discourse, delimiting discourse from context on the one hand, and from arbitrarily concatenated discourse units on the other. Addressing the question of granularity in an explicit manner, it argues for a relational conception of the constitutive parts of discourse, analogously to the functional-grammar-based differentiation between clausal and extra-clausal constituents. The former present propositional meaning contributing to local and not-so-local argument and storyline, and the latter encode procedural meaning, in particular metadiscursive linkages. A relational conception of discourse unit comprises ordinary discursive units, e.g. single and complex clauses and utterances, or speech acts, conversational contributions, but also larger units, e.g. paragraph / episode or opening, closing and topical sections, or speech act complexes. Metadiscursive units comprise prototypical extra-clausal constituents, e.g. comment clauses and discourse markers. The delimiting frame of discourse genre does not only constrain the structuring of discourse as regards the patterned linearization of discourse units, but also the degrees of implicitness/overtness for the linguistic realization of discourse units and the signalling of discourse relations and other coherence strands.
Keywords: context, discourse, discourse pragmatics, discourse unit, discourse relations, parts-whole perspective
Published online: 30 June 2017
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