Home Random Page



Descriptive texts

A descriptive text is a text that wants you to picture what they are describing.

A novel might want you to imagine the characters and see them in your mind.

A travel book will want you to see the country it is describing.

Descriptive texts usually:

· make use of adjectives and adverbs

· use comparisons to help picture it – something is like something

· employ your five senses – how it feels, smells, looks, sounds and tastes


The morning air was crisp and sharp as Sean walked down the road.

The pavement was slippery and cold beneath his feet like a slimy wet fish.


Text (textus, lat.) is the unity (interrelation) of utterances, ultra-phrasal units, fragments and paragraphs, united grammatically and logically speech acts.

Text is the verbal record of a communicative event. The text is characteristic of its categories: semantic and structural.

Whether a set of words and sentences constitute a text or not, depends on cohesive relationships within and between the sentences. These cohesive relationships form the principles of connectivity which bind a text together and force co-interpretation. In other words, in a text the interpretation of some element is dependent on that of another. You are unable to decode some element without finding what it refers to within the same text. For example, in the following sentence – 'I've spoken to Kim today. She sounded very happy.' She in the second sentence refers back to Kim in the first sentence. The referent for she can be found by looking back into the text. Thus she is given the identity of Kim.

M.A.Halliday and R.Hasan hold that linguistics should know the semantic resources for text construction. One of the main components, making it a text is that of cohesion, i.e. “relations between 2 or more elements in a text that are independent of the structure…” A semantic relation of this kind may be set up either within a sentence or between sentences; with the consequence that when it crosses sentence boundaries it has the effect of making 2 sentences cohere with one another. The relations between a personal pronoun and an antecedent proper name (John…he), between words repeated in the text, between synonyms (Apple… fruit), between the elliptical form (can’t and the verb “jump” in JUMP – I can’t). Cohesion expresses the continuity existing between parts of the text; it is expressed partly through grammar, partly through the vocabulary.

In spoken language it can be expressed through intonation. But cohesive relations are not concerned with structure. Cohesion depends not only on the presence of the explicit anaphoric items but on the semantic relations.

“Jan sat down to rest at the foot of a huge beech-tree. Now he was so tired that he soon fell asleep; a leaf fell on him, and then another, and then another, and before long he was covered with leaves, yellow, golden and brown”. Here leaf ties with the beech-tree. The two are not clearly identical in reference, since tree and leaf are not synonyms, but the interpretation of leaf depends on beech-tree. We know that the leaf was the beech-leaf.

A text is not a grammatical unit larger than a sentence. IT DOES NOT CONSIST OF sentences; it is realized by and encoded in sentences.

Text is defined as a semantic unity of language in use, spoken or written, that forms a unified whole. It is defined by its length. It may be a proverb, a public notice (NO SMOKING!), a speech at the meeting, or a novel.

M.A.Halliday and R.Hasan single out several categories of the concept of COHESION. It may be expressed through:

· reference,

· substitution,

· ellipsis,

· conjunctions,

· lexical repetition.

Each is represented by its particular features: repetitions, omissions, recurrences of certain words and constructions. Cohesion is common to all texts, “it makes a text a text”. Cohesion ties together the related parts and provides the necessary interpretation of the text by the reader.

The list of the most important cohesive devices in English:

A: Definite reference:

1. Personal pronouns;

2. the definite article;

3. deictics: this, that, these, those, etc.

4. Implied deictics: same, different, other, else, such, etc.

5. Substitution: pro-forms such as one, ones, do and so.

6. Ellipsis: omission or deletion of the elements.

7. Formal repetition of words, morphemes, phrases, etc.

B: Linkage:

1. Coordinating conjunctions: and, or, but, both … and, neither … nor, etc.

2. Linking adverbials: for, so, yet, however, therefore, meanwhile, for example, etc.

Why can’t we be friends now?” said the other, holding him affectionately. It’s what I want. It’s what you want”.

But the horses didn’t want it – they swerved apart; the earth didn’t want it, sending up rocks through which riders must pass single file; the temples, the tank, the jail, the palace, the birds, the carrion, the Guest House, …: they didn’t want it, they said in their hundred voices, “No, not, yet,” and the sky said “No, not there” (E.M.Forster. The Passage to India).

Text cohesion may be also derived from lexical relationships like hyponymy (cat is a hyponym of pet), part-whole (nose is part of a face), synonymy (start and begin), by consistency of tense, and by stylistic choice e.g. The gentleman encountered an acquaintance. vs. The guy met up with this bloke he knows.

However, sometimes a text may lack any explicit markers of cohesive relations. Two of the much-quoted examples are the following one:

A: There's the doorbell.

B: I'm in the bath.

Yet, by using our knowledge of the world we are able to reconstruct the context where such a dialogue might be possible and imply what it is all about. The first utterance must be a request to see who is at the door; the reply to it is an excuse not to fulfil this request: the person is in the bath. Here we are looking at the pragmatic meaning of the utterances that comes from the context rather than from syntax or lexis.

On the other hand, texts of many kinds contain certain portions that are particularly independent (esp. songs and verses). Some authors employ a kind of regular alteration of the cohesive density to achieve a sort of periodic rhythm. Very often writers begin their stories exploiting “false” cohesive sentences: (e.g. with reference element “it” and the reader finds himself in the middle of the story.

“One thing was certain, that the white kitten had had nothing to do with it; it was the black kitten’s fault entirely” (Alice in Wonderland). It is only 2 paragraphs later that the reader learns that “it” refers to unwinding and entangling a ball of wool. The reader’s interest is immediately engaged, he tries to interpret this “it”.

Lexical cohesion is about meaning in text. It concerns the way in which lexical items relate to each other and to other cohesive devices so that textual continuity is created.

Coherence in linguistics is what makes a text semantically meaningful. Coherence is achieved through syntactical features such as the use of deictic, anaphoric and cataphoric elements or a logical tense structure, as well as presuppositions and implications connected to general world knowledge.

Robert De Beaugrande and Wolfgang Dressler define coherence as a “continuity of senses” and “the mutual access and relevance within a configuration of concepts and relations”. The purely linguistic elements that make a text coherent are subsumed under the term cohesion.

When we talk about text coherence we refer to such terms as 'background knowledge' or 'knowledge of the world' which are beyond the scope of linguistics. This background knowledge includes the knowledge of the structure of stereotypic event sequences such as grocery shopping or booking a plane ticket, i.e. script knowledge. And we do bear in mind the principles of rhetorical organization and social constrains on communication; for example, a greeting sequence, such as

Hello. – Hi. How are you? – Fine. And you? – Just fine.

The result of using this knowledge is a coherent text – text that 'sticks together' as a unit.

Informativeness is the leading category of the text. Any text is meant to inform the reader. Information is the signification of the concepts delivered through perception of the world. It is called semantics of the utterance.

I.R.Galperin distinguishes:

1) Content-factual information (facts, actions, events, people, phenomena). Content-factual information is contained in what we have already named matter-of-fact styles, in newspaper style, in the texts of official documents, etc.

2) Content-conceptual information (the author’s perception of the world, notions, ideas, concepts).

Content-conceptual information is that which reveals the formation of notions, ideas and concepts. This kind of information is not confined to merely imparting intelligence, facts (real or imaginary), descriptions, events, proceedings, etc. It is much more complicated. CCI is not always easily distinguished. It does not lie on the surface of its verbal exposition. It can be grasped after a minute examination of the components of the text provided that the reader has acquired the skill of supralinear analysis. Moreover, it may have various interpretations and often reveals different views as to its purpose.

Thus CCI is mainly found in the belles-lettres functional style. Here it is supreme over other functional styles, though it may be found in diplomatic texts, etc.

3) Content-implicative information (implied, contextual, additional meaning of sentences and supraphrasal units).

Implication is based on pragmatic, emotive, evaluative and aesthetic components of text semantic structure.

Implication is accompanied by tropes (metaphor, metonymy, hyperbole, allusion, antonomasia) on the lexical level and aposiopesis, suspense on the syntactical level.

Ex.: “What shall I get you, sir?” asks a waiter in a ship’s restaurant addressing a sea-sick passenger. “Get me out of this”, is the answer. Implication is achieved through the polysemantic verb get.

“You don’t live in these parts?” asks an irksome local guide. “No, I don’t. You wouldn’t if I did”, retorts an irritated tourist.

Implication and explication (redundancy) are two indispensable components of the text contributing to emotional and aesthetic impact of the text upon the reader.

Thus informativeness is a text category, which in the belles-lettres style is heterogeneous and heterochannel one, aimed at revealing the concept of the work of art.

E.g. E.Hemingway’s “Cat in the Rain” (loneliness of two people, a husband and a wife).

Modality is based on analogy between the text and the sentence. The semantics of the sentence consists of nominative and evaluative components. Nomination means naming a certain real situation.

Evaluation is achieved through modality.

Modality is subdivided into objective and subjective. Objective modality expresses possibilities, conditions, imperative character and necessity; true and false components. It depends upon the predicate of the sentence.

Subjective modality portrays the speaker’s attitude (feelings, emotions and evaluation) towards the information expressed.

Text modality also includes the personages’ characterization.

The choice of the theme and problems by the writer are predetermined by the category of modality. It is closely connected with pragmatic orientation of the writer – an appeal to the reader’s response.

Actualization (foregrounding) of different parts of the text is connected with its semantic field and other dominant features. Modality is an inherent property of the ultraphrasal units = texts.


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 1608

<== previous page | next page ==>
doclecture.net - lectures - 2014-2024 year. Copyright infringement or personal data (0.009 sec.)