The multifaceted and multi-layered phenomenon of discourse has been examined in diverse research paradigms, concentrating on text as the object of investigation, on the connectedness between text and society, and on the representation of discourse. All approaches share the premise that discourse is a parts-whole configuration.
This chapter argues that interlocutors perform communicative action with discourse and in discourse, delimiting discourse from context on the one hand, and from arbitrarily concatenated discursive parts on the other. Their patterned linearisation is constrained by (1) the semantics and pragmatics of the constitutive discourse units, (2) the semantics and pragmatics of the joints, metaphorically speaking, and (3) the semantics and pragmatics of discourse-as-a-whole, demonstrating that the whole is always more than the sum of its constitutive parts. The argumentation is supported by discourse-analytic and pragmatic analyses of British political discourse, demonstrating where the two paradigms meet and where they depart.
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