Edited by Louis de Saussure and Peter J. Schulz
[Pragmatics & Cognition 15:1] 2007
► pp. 139–159
The term discourse is generally used either as a technical equivalent for ‘verbal communication’ or as referring to a particular scientific notion, where discourses are spans of texts or of utterances obeying specific principles of organisation. The aim of this paper is to suggest that an account of discourse is possible, in both cases, only through a theory of utterance-meaning construction. If discourse stands for verbal communication, then it can be explained only with regard to speaker’s intended meaning. If discourse stands for organised spans of texts or utterances, then they must be meaningful spans of texts or meaningful utterances. Yet it is argued that a pragmatic explanation of meaning provides all the elements that discourse analysis describes. In the end, the paper claims that a theory of context combined with a theory on the semantic-pragmatic interface should prove sufficient to explain discourse, in whichever sense, along the idea that discourse should be viewed as a process, not as a whole, following the claims of a number of scholars in the field. A possibility to tackle this process is proposed in terms of procedures through the approach of procedural pragmatics.
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