Argumentation in discourse and grammar

Roberta PiazzaMelanie Green
Table of contents

Writing about argumentation is a daunting task for at least one main reason. Argumentation occupies an interdisciplinary domain in which logic and rhetoric merge with discourse linguistics and pragmatics; therefore, discussing this broad field of study from a linguistic perspective imposes a dividing line between two or more areas that naturally converge. Moreover, argumentation belongs not solely to the realm of logic and discourse pragmatics but is inherent in language as a whole, in that all texts, both spoken and written, exhibit a degree of ‘reasonableness’ that is realised in a number of ways and at all levels of the language system. In light of this conviction, we propose to organise the following foray into studies on argumentation into the two areas of discourse and grammar, in order to show how these two language levels can function jointly when a speaker/writer advances a particular claim. In so doing, we provide a discussion that takes into account both the macro-level of discourse beyond the sentence and the micro-level of grammar within the sentence. As an illustration of argumentation at each of these two levels, we use two relatively long texts, one from television news, in which a particular idea is put forth by multiple speakers, and the other a political speech with a sole orator. We hope that our reflection on argumentation from these two perspectives of discourse and grammar with the support of authentic texts provides some useful insights into this complex field of interdisciplinary research.

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