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CHAPTER 9. THE GRAMMAR OF THE TEXT

"...a text can be thought of as the basic unit of meaning in language or as the basic semantic unit of linguistic interaction"

M. Halliday

1. The factors that brought about the necessity in the emergence of the text grammar.

2. The many-sided nature of the phenomenon of the text and problem of its definition. The notions of the micro- and macro-text. Cohesion as the main characteristic of the text and the means of achieving it.

3. The main categories of the text and the means of their expression.

In the course of linguistic analysis of various grammatical and lexical phenomena it has long been noticed and remarked that very often the essence of these phenomena and their functions in language cannot be understood and interpreted adequately enough if we stay within the boundaries of one isolated sentence. Such grammatical phenomena as pronouns, articles, elliptical sentences, repetition, word order, actual division and even the use of different verbal and nominal forms can be best explained only if we exceed the boundaries of the sentence and turn to the context larger than the sentence. Let us turn to the analysis of the following extract: 1)A -woman came toward them across the bridge.2) She •wore a torn red sari of the cheapest cloth, toe rings on her brown feet, and carried a load of sticks on her head. 3) One arm was raised to balance the load, the other swung beside her, bracelets jingling.4) She was stunning.5) Beautiful by any standards anywhere. 6)The way Bardot looked in her salad days. 7)She glanced through the car window at Michael, and he smiled, couldn't help smiling.8) He thought she might smile back. 9) She looked as if she might for a moment, and then turned her head and stared straight down the road as she moved past the car (R. J. Wallet).

As we read and analyze the extract we see that each sentence is closely connected with the preceding one and establishes the connection with the sentences that follow. The first sentence continues the narrative line of the previous paragraph. Sentences from 2 to 6 are descriptive, the narration is suspended. Thus, the pronoun 'she' in the second sentence has an anaphoric connection with the first one. In the third sentence the meaning of the word 'load' becomes clear only from the context of the second sentence. The fourth sentence is bound by an anaphoric connection with the first one. The fifth sentence is elliptical and its meaning can be interpreted on the basis of the fourth sentence. In the sixth sentence the connector 'the way' binds the fifth and the sixth sentences. Starting from sentence 7 the narration is resumed. In the eighth sentence the phrase 'smiled back' makes sense only on the basis of the previous sentence. In sentence 9 we observe the case of representation, in which the modal verb 'might' represents the predicate 'might smile back', which is not repeated as the whole but represented by the modal part of it. But to understand why the woman that the American professor Michael Tilman met and smiled to was wearing a sari and toe rings on her brown feet, we have to know the previous context which is beyond this extract.



Very much like the semantics of a word is best understood in the context of the sentence in which the word is used, the semantics of a sentence is best understood in the context of a larger syntactic unit of which the sentence is a constituent. This larger, or the largest syntactic unit is the text. If we look at the role of the text from a different angle, i.e. from the angle of speech activity we come to the conclusion that the sentence is an expression of thought. But our thoughts are not disconnected, one thought is never enough and it is immediately followed by another. So as we start expressing our thoughts in sentences we often feel that one sentence is not enough and it is immediately followed by another and still another until we feel that we have said everything we wanted to say.

So on the one hand the necessity to go beyond the boundaries of the sentence and study the text is necessitated by the fact that many linguistic facts can be best understood only on the level of the text, and on the other, considered from the view of speech-and- thought activity it is the text but not an isolated sentence that best reflects the process of thinking and verbal representation of our thoughts.

The ideas about the necessity of going beyond the boundaries of a single sentence were expressed in the middle of the previous century. The Russian linguist N.S.Pospelov introduced the notion of 'a complex syntactic unit' (cjio)KHoe CHHxaKCHHecKoe ijenoe) as a special unit of syntactic analysis which, according to N.S. Pospelov, expresses a complete thought and forms an utterance addressed to the listener or the reader [IIocnejioB 1948, 41]. This unit presents a combination of sentences connected by various means. At about the same time the idea of a suprasentential structure began developing in other countries. The German scholar Karl Boost introduced the notion of "a unity of sentences" (Satzgemeinschaft), pointing out such means in intersentential connections as lexical repetition, articles, pronouns, ellipsis, the use of tense forms, enumeration and interrogative words. Similar ideas were expressed by the American scholar Z. Harris who said that "language does not occur in stray words or sentences, but in connected discourse — from a one-word utterance to a ten-volume work" [ Harris 1952, 29].

The studies in the text linguistics were also stimulated by more general factors, such as: l)the growing interest in the role of 'the human factor' in language, the tendency to study not only the structural, but also the semantic and communicative/pragmatic aspects of language, the tendency to explore language in the process "of its functioning as a means of human interaction, from the aspect of the communicative intentions of the speakers and the means of their presentation; 2). the transition from the studies of linguistic phenomena immediately observed, or overt to the covert categories not given in direct observation. They are such categories as presupposition, implication, sequence and they can be revealed and interpreted only on the level larger than the sentence; 3) the interest in the human factor, or anthropocentrism brought about the necessity in linking linguistic studies with other humanities, such as socio- and psycholinguistics, the theory of speech activity, pragmalinguistics, linguoculturology, and (especially) studies in literature. Speaking about the necessity to integrate studies in language and studies in literature Mark Turner stresses the fact that this integration is absolutely natural as both language and literature are the products of the human mind, the expressions of our conceptual apparatus [Turner 1991, 6]. In most of these branches of humanities the object of analysis is not a single sentence but larger units — fragments of texts or whole texts.

As a special branch of linguistics text linguistics appeared in the 70ies of the previous century. A considerable contribution to its development was made by such scholars as M. Halliday, T.van Dijk, V. Dressier, W. Kintsch, K. Kozhevnikova, Ts. Todorov, I.R. Galperin, O.I. Moskalskaya, Z.Y.Turaeva and many others. Today the text in its .different aspects, or facets is actively studied by many branches of humanities, each studying a particular aspect of the complex and many-sided phenomenon of text. The text grammar studies the basic categories of the text and the roblems of the text comprehension (see the works of W. Kintsch, for example), stylistics and cognitive rhetoric are concentrated on the problems of how the personality and the conceptual system of an author are represented in texts, on the peculiarities of text composition of different genres and authors on the specificity of idiostyle of an author represented in the texts. As it is aptly put by Y.N. Karaulov, behind every text there stands a language ego [Kapayjios 1987] that can become the object of both a linguistic and a literary analysis. At the same time all these directions actively interact with one another.

2. Being a very complex and many-sided phenomenon the text is not easy to define. The definition of the text, like the definition of the sentence and the methods of its analysis depend on which aspect of the text comes into the focus of the researcher. According to Y. Sorokin there exist over 250 different definitions of the text revealing its different aspects and none of these definitions can be considered as canonical [CopoKHH 1993, 132]. The text is defined as a unit of communication, arranged on the basis of the speaker's communicative intention; a unit of culture (culture tends to treat the whole world created by God as the Text and strives to read and understand the message it contains; a unit of discourse which manifests the rules of language and on the basis of which these rules can be studied; as a synergetic system which possesses the ability of organization and self-organization. An exhaustive definition of the text from a linguistic aspect was suggested by I.R. Galperin and this understanding of the text is shared by many linguists. Let's quote his definition of the text of the original: "TeKcx - 3x0 npoH3B6fleHHe peqexBOpnecKoro npoijecca, o6jia^aion],ee sasepmeHHOcxtio, oGteRXMBHpoBaHHoe b Bime nHCBMCHHoro floicyMeHxa, JiHxepaxypHO o6pa6oxaHHoe b cooxbcxctbhh c xhiiom 3xofo flOKyMCHxa, npoHSBe^eHHe, cocxoamee hs HasBaHHfl (sarojioBKa) h pjma oco6i>ix eflHHHU, o6i>e,fl;HHeHHi>ix pasHtiMH xnnaMH neKCHHecKOH, rpaMMaxunecKOH, nonraecKOH, cxnjiHcxHHecKOH cbhsh, HMeiomee onpe^eneHHyio

h nparMaxHHecicyio ycxanoBKy" [FanbnepHH 1981, 18].

For our analysis of the text phenomenon from the grammatical aspect we define the text as a complex syntactic unity of sentences based on the structural, semantic and communicative cohesion

It is also important to accentuate the fact that the text is the product of speech activity which makes it possible to differentiate between the text and the discourse. These terms are sometimes used as synonyms. We think it necessary to underline the fact that the text, like the sentence belongs to both the level of language and the level of speech (I.P. Susov writes about the two 'faces of the text', one being turned to the system of language units constituting it and the other — to the communicative act, to speech activity [CycoB 1979, 89]. In the same way as we differentiate between the sentence as the unit of language and the utterance as the unit of speech, we think it logical to differentiate between the text as the unit of language, as a linguistic sign of the highest level and discourse as a phenomenon of speech. The text is the product of speech activity whereas the discourse is the process of this activity, it is the text taken in the process of its production, it is 'the text in the making'.

Of course, being a linguistic sign of the highest order, the text differs considerably from the sentence, because it is a qualitatively new syntactic unit. Every sentence is built on the basis of a certain structural scheme and these schemes can be systematized, they belong to the language competence of the speakers and are kept in the linguistic consciousness of the speakers in the form of patterns as we stated earlier. It is hardly possible to systematize the structural schemes of different texts, because they are too various and individual, depending on the individual styles of authors. Words are organized into a sentence on the basis of the grammatical conventions of a language, whereas no strict rules exist for arranging sentences into a text. Of course certain rules do exist, but these rules are less rigid and they are different for different genres of texts. Thus, in a scientific text an introduction comes at the beginning and a conclusion - in the end, and they are obligatory components in a composition of a scientific text. In fiction this order is not obligatory and a story may begin from the end , there may be open-end structures which leave it to the reader to think of a possible outcome of the events. Fairy tales follow the traditional pattern of beginning like "Once upon a time there lived a little girl", while in fiction the reader may be introduced in the midst of events. Such beginnings are very typical of E.Hemingway 's prose. E.g. At the lake shore there was another rowboat drawn up. The two Indians stood waiting (Indian Camp); The train passed very quickly a long, red stone house with a garden and four thick palm-trees with tables under them in the shade. Oh the other side was the sea. Then there was a cutting through red stone and clay, and the sea was only occasionally and far below against rocks. "I bought him in Palermo ", the American lady said (A Canary for One).

The term 'text' is very wide and it refers to both a combination of two or more sentences and a whole story, novel or a many-volume work. Therefore it is necessary to differentiate between two types of texts, the so-called micro- and macrotext. The microtext is referred to as 'complex syntactic whole' (N.S. Pospelov), 'a supra-phrasal unit' (O.I. Moskalskaya), 'a dicteme' (M.Y. Blokh) , a suprasentential structure. The macrotext is a whole product of speech activity: a story, a novel a newspaper article or a scientific research. The main object of syntactic studies is usually (though hot always) the microtext, i.e. the suprasentential structure which may be defined as a combination of two or more sentences characterized by the structural, semantic and communicative cohesion (coherence). Such units present one theme (thus the term 'dicteme' introduced by M.Y. Blokh) and the transition from one theme to another signalizes the boundaries of the suprasentential structure. Cohesion appears to be the main feature differentiating a suprasentential structure from a random set of sentences.

Speaking about the relations between the units of language, M.Halliday points out three kinds of relations: ideational which reflect the speakers' experience of the real world, including the inner world of the speaker's consciousness; interpersonal enabling the speaker to interact with others; and, finally, textual relations i.e. the relations between the units of language which enable it to express the other two types of relations [Halliday 1985, Introduction]. These relations are correlated with the three aspects of language that we pointed out at the beginning of our course: semantics, pragmatics and syntactics all of which are integrated in the act of communication. Cohesion, then, is a feature which finds its manifestation in all the three aspects: semantic, syntactic and pragmatic (communicative). The simultaneous realization of semantic, structural and communicative cohesion creates the integrity of the text. Semantic cohesion is manifested in the unity of its central theme, the condensed meaning, or message of the text. It is manifested in the use of the so-called thematic nets, i.e. words belonging to the same thematic group, or semantic field; in the phenomenon called co-reference which means the use of different means for naming one and the same referent. It includes a direct lexical repetition, the use of synonyms, antonyms, hyponyms and hyperonyms. On the syntactic level cohesion is manifested in the use of parallel constructions, elliptical sentences, substitution and representation and other means which reveal the syntactic interdependence between the sentences. On the communicative level cohesion manifests itself in the communicative progression of the text and the construction of thematic-rhematic chains which form the functional perspective of the text. Each successive .sentence is communicatively connected with the previous one, thus achieving the progression of the text from 'the old' to 'the new'. As a result we have a thematic-rhematic chain which marks the boundaries of a suprasyntactic structure [Moskalskaya 1978, 15]. Phonetic means also play an important role in the creation of the text cohesion. Logical stress, intonation, pauses are important means of actual division. In poetical texts alliteration, rhyme and rhythm contribute a lot to the text. At the same time it must be admitted that the division into semantic, syntactic and communicative aspects means is rather conventional, because syntax is never asemantic and all the means carry a certain communicative load. Let us turn to the analysis of a text fragment: The old -woman remembered a swan she had bought many years ago in Shanghai for a foolish sum. This bird, boasted the market vendor, was once a duck that stretched its neck in hopes of becoming a goose, and now look! — it's too beautiful to eat.

Then the woman and the swan sailed across the ocean many thousands of li wide, stretching their necks toward America. On her journey she cooed to the swan: "In America I will have a daughter just like me. But over there nobody will say her worth is measured by the loudness of her husband's belch. Over there nobody will look down on her, because I will make her speak only perfect American English. And over there she will always be too full to swallow any sorrow! She will know my meaning, because I will give her this swan - a creature that became more than there was hoped for.

But when she arrived in the new country, the immigration officials pulled her swan away from her, leaving the woman fluttering her arms with only one swan feather for a memory. And then she had to fill out so many forms that she forgot why she had come here and what she had left behind.

Now the woman is old. And she had a daughter who grew up speaking only English and swallowing more Coca-Cola than sorrow. For a long time the woman had wanted to give her daughter the single swan feather and tell her, "This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions. " And she waited, year after year, for the day she could tell her daughter this in perfect American English (Amy Tan).

The extract presents a prologue to the famous novel "The Joy Luck Club " devoted to the life of Chinese women immigrants in America. Cohesion on the semantic level is achieved by the repetition of the key word 'swan' which undergoes the process of metaphorization and refers to both: the real bird and the woman (stretching their necks, she cooed, swallow any sorrow, fluttering her arms); this key word arranges all the words into a thematic net which includes the words bird, duck, neck, goose, sail, coo, belch, swallow, flutter, feather; these words also form hyponynic/hyperonymic relations: bird - swan; bird - creature; swan and duck, duck and goose in this context are opposed to each other and become contextual antonyms. Cohesion is also achieved by the use of various conjunctions binding the sentences. On the syntactic level cohesion is achieved by the use of parallel constructions coupled with lexical repetition (But over there...), the anaphoric use of pronouns. The communicative progression of the text and the development of the functional perspective is carried out by the predicate groups (bought, swam, sailed across an ocean, cooed, arrived in the new country, pulled her swan, had to fill out forms, was old, had a daughter). The development of the functional perspective is manifested in the regular change of articles from the indefinite to the definite, in the substitution of nouns by pronouns which marks the communicative progression of the text, the transition from the theme to the rheme and the introduction of the new theme, subordinated to the central theme of the extract. The adverbs then, when and now also play an important role in the text: they participate in the text progression marking the new paragraphs and they also take part in the construction of the central thematic opposition of the text: the past and the present, the dreams of a better life in a new country and the frustration of those dreams. All these means interact with one another, creating semantic, structural and communicative cohesion of the text and achieving its integrity.

3. Cohesion is the most important, yet not the only distinctive feature of the text. Being a qualitatively new syntactic unit, the text is characterized by several distinctive features, often referred to as categories, specific of the text only. These categories are rather different from sentential categories and they are expressed by units of different levels generally interacting with one another. The list of textual categories is not complete and the number of textual categories varies in different studies and classifications. I.R. Galperin points out such textual categories as: informativeness, cohesion, continuum, autosemanticism (autosemantiya), retrospection, prospection, modality, integrity and completeness [Galperin 1981, 11]. A.I. Novikov points out the following categories: extendedness, continuity, cohesion, completeness, depth perspective, statics and dynamics [Novikov 1983, 13].

Despite the difference in the number and terminology of the distinctive features of the text most scholars agree that the most important distinctive features of the text are integrity and completeness and, correlated with them - discreteness and divisibility. All these features are closely interrelated: one presupposes another. The feature of divisibility presupposes the autosemantic character of the parts of the text. The enumerated features do not have an equal status. Integrity and divisibility are obligatory features of any text, while prospection and retrospection are not and they are subordinated to the feature of continuum. Textual categories are expressed by units of different levels and the find different forms of expression in different genres of texts. The feature of integrity includes such more specific features as continuum/discontinuum and retrospection/prospection. Let us dwell on the means of expressing these categories.

The category of continuum is directly related to the concepts of time and space. The mere term means a continuous movement in time and space. So in a most general way this feature presupposses a succession of events in time and space. This presentation of events is different in different texts. The most important role in the realization of this category belongs to the verbal forms. So the verb appears to be not only the syntactic-semantic centre of the sentence, but of the text as well. The main grammatical form carrying out the function of succession of events in the text is Past Indefinite. The dynamism of narration and its development are achieved by means of combining the verbal forms with various lexical and syntactic means of expressing temporality and space which serve as temporal-spatial landmarks of narration. E.g. He looked at his watch: eight-seventeen. The truck started on the second try, and he backed out, shifted gears, and moved slowly down the alley under hazy sun. Through the streets of Bellingham he went, heading south on Washington 11, running along the coast of Puget Sound for a few moles, then following the highway as it swung east a little before meeting US Route 20. Turning into the sun, he began the long, winding drive through the Cascades (R. J. Waller).

The category of continuum is closely related with discontinuum, i.e. a break in the succession of narrated events, a pause in the narration. There are several forms of discontinuum which are related to two different forms of speech activity called by O.I. Moskalskaya 'the world discussed' and 'the world narrated' [Moskalskaya 1981, 113]. The first type of discontinuum is observed in the cases when the narration of events is interrupted by the author's commentary of the events, which exposes the modal plane of the text. Here of special interest are passages or sentences with different degree of generalization which present a kind of the author's projection on the events, an evaluation or speculation about the events. The formal marker of this type of discontinuum is the shift to the so called 'Panchronic Present' and the use of other means of generalization: the indefinite article, indefinite pronouns, words of abstract and general semantics, substantivized adjectives etc. Such sentences of universal character occur in different parts of the text structure and carry out different functions. Used in the beginning of a text they serve as an introduction of its central theme. E.g. I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not (S. Maugham). These are the opening lines of a chapter in Maugham's novel "The Moon and Sixpence". In the chapter which actually presents 'a story in a story' the author gives a novelette about a man who was born out of his place but was lucky enough to find a place where he really belonged. Inserted in the middle of a text, sentences of universal character express the author's commentary of the events described. E.g. "The thing that counts is character. Abraham hadn't got character ". Character? I should have thought it needed a good deal of character to throw up a 'career after half an hour's meditation, because you saw in another way of living a more intense significance. And it required still more character never to regret the sudden step. But I said nothing... (p. 189). Concluding a text such sentences of universal character serve as a kind of summing up. The same chapter is concluded with the following extract: 'Is it what you most want, to live under the conditions that please you, in peace with yourself; and is it success to be an eminent surgeon with ten thousand a year and a beautiful wife? I suppose it depends on what meaning you attach to life, the claim which you acknowledge to society, and the claim of the individual (p. 190).

Another type of discontinuum is connected with the world narrated and consists in the break of the linear .chronology of events which is achieved by the introduction of prospective and retrospective events. The categories of retrospection and prospection create the depth of the narration, expressing not only temporal, but causal-consecutive relations between the events. The category of retrospection finds its expression in the use of the definite article, the verbs of retrospective semantics, adverbial phrases with the meaning of priority, sentences of the type "/« his mind he went back to..." and graphical means. In the famous story "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" by E.Hemingway the retrospective plane of narration is printed in italics and carries an important semantic role. Returning in his memories to the events of the past the main character seems to be living his life all over again.

The main means of expressing retrospection are the verbal forms. The forms of the Past Perfect set up a retrospective plane of narration thus creating the depth of narration and helping to understand the real reasons of the characters' behaviour which often have roots in the past events. E.g. David moved back to his own state of California a year after they separated and met Annette a few months later. His new wife was very religious, and little by little she got David interested in the church. David, a lifelong agnostic, had always seemed to be hungry for something more meaningful in his life. Now he attended church regularly and actually served as a marriage councellor along with the pastor. What could he possibly say to someone doing the same thing he 'd done, she often wondered, and how could he help others if he hadn 't been able to control himself? (N. Sparks).

The category of prospection, like the category of retrospection, finds its manifestation on different levels, but the main means of creating the prospective line in the narration is the form of Future in the Past which expresses a future action viewed from the past. The past moment may be indicated not only by the verb form in the principal clause, as the grammar books usually point out, but also by the context of the suprasentential structure. E.g. She turned again on the slope of the hill, with the winking lights of the town beneath her. Someone perhaps would give her a bed for the night, or a blanket on the floor. She had no money; they would have to trust her for payment. The wind tore at her hair, and the small stunted trees bowed and curtseyed before her. It would be a wild, wet dawn to Christmas day (D. de Maurier).

So we can conclude that the analysis of textual categories helps to understand the complex and many-sided nature, of the text and at the same time the analysis of the text forming functions of grammatical forms enriches our knowledge of the grammatical structure of language.

 


Date: 2015-01-12; view: 2526


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