Semantic relations in discourse
Conjunctive Relations in Discourse - A Tri-functional Study of Six English Registers - Geoff Thompson †
Geoff Thompson † [+]
University of Liverpool
There has been a good deal of interest for several decades in the range of ways in which clauses may be connected. One aspect of conjunctive relations that has been established is that a distinction needs to be made between ‘external’ (or ‘semantic’) and ‘internal’ (or ‘pragmatic’) connectivity. However, there is some uncertainty over the precise nature of internal conjunction. For example, researchers in the Systemic Functional Linguistics tradition typically highlight connections between parts of the text, and are primarily interested in text-structuring signals such as thus and to conclude. Other scholars, on the other hand, focus on the ways in which speakers can use conjunctions such as because and if for interpersonal purposes, to provide justifications for their reasoning or speech acts. Conjunctive Relations in Discourse argues that the ‘internal’ category can be more accurately and satisfactorily handled if it is split into two. Thompson proposes a three-dimensional model drawing on M. A. K. Halliday’s notion of the three metafunctions to set up a theoretical framework within which the three main types can be better understood, and the distinctions theoretically justified, by mapping them onto the three metafunctions. In addition, Halliday’s distinction in logico-semantic relations between expansion and projection can also be incorporated. The second part of the book follows up on the insight that different registers of English deploy the resources of conjunction in different ways, both in type and in the extent to which connections are explicitly signalled. The six registers to be investigated are designed to represent a range from informal spoken to formal written registers. They are: informal conversation and academic written text, as the two extremes, together with fictional narratives, business annual reports, political speeches and personal blogs.