A blog for the comprehensive understanding of Literature, Applied Linguistics and ELT

November 27, 2009

Cohesion


“Text” is a broad concept: it can be long or short, written or spoken. A text has an independent meaning in context. It has a purpose that makes sense to the recipients. ”A text has texture and this is what distinguishes it from something that is not a text… The texture is provided by the cohesive relation”

Cohesive relationships in texts are indicated by cohesive devices, which are used to tie pieces of text together in specific ways. These markers are known as cohesive ties. Also cohesion is dependent on register, i.e. appropriateness depends on the context of situation. There are two types of cohesive ties:

1. Explicit

1. Additive: something added to something else to alter or improve it in some way. For example: and, however, in addition, etc.

2. Adversative: a word, phrase, or clause that expresses opposition or contrast. For example: but, on the contrary, on the otherhand, nevertheless, etc.

3. Causal: a word or other grammatical element that expresses the reason or cause of something, or a relationship of cause and effect. For example: so, for this reason, because, due to, etc.

4. Temporal: relating to grammatical tenses or the expression of time in a language. For example: firstly, secondly, recently, at last, then after, etc.

2. Implicit

1. Reference: Reference cohesion occurs when one item in a text points to another element for its interpretation. (Another way of tying sentences and paragraphs together involves using reference words that point back to an idea mentioned previously.) Among the many reference words that can be used to tie one sentence to another or one paragraph to another are pronouns like: he, it, this, these, those, that, etc.

These reference words should not be used by themselves but should be combined with the important words and phrases from previous sentences or paragraphs. In the following paragraphs, we can see how reference words are used not only to tie sentences and paragraphs together, but also to emphasize the main idea. For example:

“At home, my father is himself. He relaxes and acts in his usual manner.”

a. Exophora: The reference to a word or phrase, usually a pronoun, which remains outside of the text and plays no part in textual cohesion, is called exophoric reference. We can see that the pronoun ‘that” refers to something which is not present in the text below:

“Look at that ”

b. Endpohora: The reference to a word or phrase, which remains within the text and forms cohesive ties within the text, is called endophoric referece. There are two types of enophora:

i. Anaphora/ Anaphoric pronoun: The reference to a word or phrase used earlier, especially to avoid repeating the word or phrase by replacing it with something else such as a pronoun. We can see that ‘he’ refers back to ‘my father’ in the excerpt below:

John has resigned from his job. He is now looking for a new job.”

ii. Cataphora/ Cataphoric pronoun: The use of a word or phrase, usually a pronoun, that refers to something mentioned later. We can see that the anaphoric pronoun ‘he’ refers forward to ‘Poor john’ in the excerpt below.

He has forgotten to take preparation for the examination. Poor john now realizes that he is going to fail the exam for sure.”

2. Repetition: We can tie sentences or paragraphs together by repeating certain key words from one sentence to the next or from one paragraph to the next. This repetition of key words also helps to emphasize the main idea of a piece of writing. For example, in the following paragraph, notice how many times the words "Sunsilk" is repeated:

Sunsilk is mild to your hair – so mild that you can wash your hair as often as you like. Sunsilk cleans your hair gently, leaving it soft and shiny, with a fresh smell of summer meadows.”

3. Partial repetition: We can tie sentences or paragraphs together by partially repeating certain key words from one sentence to the next or from one paragraph to the next:

Henry Fielding is one of the greatest novelists in the history of English literature. Fielding has created a wide number of characters from different social positions. Mr. Fielding gives a comprehensive picture of the lifestyle and custom of the 18th century England through his characters.”

4. Lexical Substitution: When we replace a word with a completely new word then it is known as lexical substitution. For example:

“John has a white cat .The pet is very cute.”

5. Substitution: Substitution replaces one element with another which is not a personal pronoun. For example:

A. Did you ever find a micro-oven?
B. Yes, I borrowed one from my neighbor.

6. Ellipsis: Ellipsis involves a deletion of a word, phrase, or clause. We can think of ellipsis as a zero tie because it is not actually said in the text. For example:

A. Do you want to go with me to the store?
B. Yes, I do.

References

Brown, Gillian and George Yule. Discourse Analysis Cambridge: CUP, 1983.

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