Text and contextual information retrieval: A relevance-theoretic approach to cohesion

Patricia Kolaiti

Abstract

This paper argues for a pragmatically based reconsideration of cohesion-based approaches to information retrieval during comprehension, suggesting that a Relevance-based approach is preferable on both descriptive and explanatory grounds. It outlines a number of descriptive and explanatory problems dating back to Halliday and Hasan’s (1976, 1985; Hasan 1984) early view of cohesion, which seem to call for pragmatic solutions, and argues that interpretively used and echoic utterances raise serious questions as to the text-constitutive potential of cohesion. It goes on to discuss a number of cases that seem to pose problems for purely cohesion-based approaches but are straightforwardly explained by the Relevance-Theoretic account.

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