Some aspects of discourse structure and cohesion in selected science lectures

Montgomery, Martin (1977). Some aspects of discourse structure and cohesion in selected science lectures. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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Insofar as lectures are conducted mostly in the form of a monologue, they are seen as constituting a special form of speech event, which poses particular problems in identifying their larger scale principles of linguistic organisation. The role of various cohesive devices in unifying the unfolding text is examined, but it is argued that this needs to be complemented with some notion of discourse structure. A model of discourse structure is proposed which contains, fundamentally, three layers; Member, Period and Episode. Episodes are the largest discourse unit proposed and these are distinguished by focusing activity at their boundaries; very loosely they represent divisions into ‘topics’. Episodes are segmented into Periods which are considered to have a definable prosodic shape specified in terms of Key (relative pitch height) and Tone (pitch movement). Periods themselves are constituted by Members which - though seen as coterminous with the largest unit of grammar - can simultaneously be ranged into classes according to their function in the discourse. Such functions are seen as primarily related to the presentation and structuring of the information, or to the reception of the discourse by the audience. Constituency relationships between units on different layers of the discourse scale are left ill-defined, but it is argued that the model proposed thereby remains more flexible and is thus better able to demonstrate the process whereby the discourse reflects back on itself in the light of the lecturer’s moment by moment assessment of the felicity of his utterance. In this respect it is claimed that although monologue discourse is delivered by one person, it is nonetheless shaped by the exigencies of interaction.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics


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