LINGUIST List 13.1733

Wed Jun 19 2002

Review: Text Linguistics: Scott & Thompson (2001)

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  1. John Hammink, Scott & Thompson (2001) Patterns of Text: In Honour of Michael Hoey

Message 1: Scott & Thompson (2001) Patterns of Text: In Honour of Michael Hoey

Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 15:41:24 +0000
From: John Hammink <John.HamminkF-Secure.com>
Subject: Scott & Thompson (2001) Patterns of Text: In Honour of Michael Hoey


Scott, Mike and Geoff Thompson, eds. (2001)
Patterns of Text: In Honour of Michael Hoey.
John Benjamins Publishing Company, vii+323pp, hardback
ISBN 90-272-2572-9 (Eur) / 1-55619-792-6(US).
		
Book Announcement on Linguist:
http://linguistlist.org/issues/12/12-816.html


John Hammink, F-Secure Corporation, Helsinki

'Patterns of Text' contains an introduction and 12 papers which
explore text patterns above the sentence level, as the previous
reviewer for this list has noted
http://linguistlist.org/issues/13/13-230.html. The subtitle: 'In Honor
of Michael Hoey' appeared at first glance to be a reference to Michael
Hoey's 1991 'Patterns of Lexis in Text' although after viewing Hoey's
bibliography, I found there to be much more inquiry into this
relatively underexplored, yet long-inhabited terrain on his part.
Nonetheless, the editors have assembled a star-studded cast of
contributors bound by the written-discourse analysis thread, and this
collection is a decisive contribution to the field.

The book opens with an introduction by the editors themselves. 'Why',
do they ask 'should there be a Patterns of Text?' The editors
acknowledge a shift in linguistics concerns over the past three
decades, from language as a set of isolated syntactic structures to
language 'as a set of functional resources in use', or more
succinctly, from the clause to the text. In short, the focus has
turned from micro to macro. That doesn't only mean a shift purely to
semantics, but the study of texts as objects themselves. What are the
texts made of? How do their constituents 'hang together'? What can
be said about their function in and of 'the society that produces
them?' As language events, the editors ask us to study texts as
'complete' events even though the completion is relative. In speech,
is the complete event the punchline, the joke, or the conversation in
which the thing takes place? In text, is it the encyclopedia article,
Volume A, or the whole edition? How do we know we are dealing with
the same 'story' even though it appears on different TV channels,
radio stations and newspapers on different days? On this note, the
editors point out some of the limits of general linguistics when
assessing completion as well as considering text events themselves.

Since participants and users can recognize completion in a language
event, and therefore elicit a complete text, the language event must
therefore be 'patterned in a distinct way'. The editors propose the
concepts of 'Conjunction' and 'Repetition'. Conjunction is seen as
being concerned with how different parts of a text fit together;
Repetition is an aspect of continuity or 'how the...writer signals
that...she is still talking about the same thing.' All of the
articles in the collection would appear to be tied to one or the other
or both of these concepts.

'Colligation, lexis, pattern and text' by Susan Hunston derives its
founding ideas from the Repetition concept. Colligation 'depends on
repetition between the text and other texts'. The author presents it
as a 'wider phenomena' of collocation, that is, the tendency of
certain words to co-occur. Hunston sheds light on colligation and
even provides some corpal and syntactic evidence of the phenomenon in
relation to lexis, pattern and text.

Antoinette Renouf, in her article, 'Lexical signals of word relations'
used CL (Corpus Linguistics) techniques to study and identify
semantic-relation signals, which, as the previous review has noted,
include sense relations like hyponomy, antonomy, and synonomy. In the
process, she also studied correlation between those lexical signals
themselves and meaning. Automated extraction of sense-related
word-pairs from text is applicable in text retrieval as well as
linguistics itself--word pairs can provide an 'abstract' of a larger
'textual thesaurus'.In 'Patterns of cohesion in spoken text', Susan &
Geoff Thompson attempt to answer the question 'How do chunks relate to
each other?' Their texts are a selection of television advertisements
where viewers must simultaneously handle information at various
levels. 'What makes the advertisement a single audiovisual unit', in
other words, a text event, 'as opposed to a set of elements?' The
authors view the text events through the 4-band spectrum of
repetition, replacement, conjunction and theme. Repetition build a
framework with 'slots', which 'signals continuity of aboutness.'
Replacement switches lexical and other items into the familiar slots.
Conjunction works alongside theme, signalling connectedness. Both
words and sounds are considered as cohesive devices.

Peter Fries uses Martin's (1992) terminology to distinguish between
'Presenting' and 'Presuming' reference. In 'Issues in modelling the
textual metafunction', Fries explains how the writer or speaker may
signal the reader about the status of chunks of information in a
flowing text, that is the 'newness' or the contextuality of a given
chunk. An early distinction is made between participant entry and
information structure.

Mike Scott's paper dealt again with repetition in 'Mapping key words
to problem and solution.' A word can possess 'keyness' in a text if it
occurs more frequently in that text than in a large corpus. If this
is the case, than does that key word reflect in some way what the text
is about? Scott explores the Problem/Solution pattern. As there
appears to be no direct match between the pattern in the signals (the
texts might show the pattern, but not the keywords themselves which
are supposed to be the signals.). That is, the key words appeared
outside the part of the text constructed as Problem-Solution, or the
keywords only had a local scope. One of the many questions raised: How
can the user distinguish between an incidental mention and a pattern
signal?

In 'Negotiation of evaluation in written text', Adriana Bolivar
discusses the role of evaluation shaping text structures and
determining types and genres of text. While aiming to understand text
as social interaction she starts from the key role that evaluation
plays in that interaction. 'Lead, Follow and Valuate' are three parts
of this interaction. She uses editorials as the test data. In the
last section of her article, she touches on the implications of this
for teaching reading and writing.

As many of the articles focus more on repetition, 'Some discourse
patterns and signalling of the assessment-basis relation' focuses
strictly on conjunction. Assessment and Basis in text can also be
evaluated in terms of the conjunctive devices at macro- and
micro-levels. As author Michael Jordan writes: 'binary relations of
meaning exist between (usually adjoining) stretches of text', it is
possible to also compare Assessment-Basis conjunctive devices to those
used for Topic-Appraisal, Cause-Effect, and Purpose-Means. Also
worthy of note, are the issues of Multiple Bases, Assessments as
Basis, and the complications which arise when combinations of several
such relationships exist.

Repetition in context comes into view in Ann Darnton's chapter 'Repeat
after me'. By repeating contexts rather than raw lexical items (in
ever-changing contexts), beginning readers may be more easily able to
recognize a word each time it reappears throughout the text, rather
than re-decipher it. Moreover, a tagmemic analysis, where a text may
be analysed hierarchically in terms of its grammatical constituency;
phonological constituency; and its referential or lexical
constituency.is applied to the stories included in many holistic
reading schemes. Several parallinear 'vectors' can be drawn through
the narratives, which create a framework. The framework supports the
reader's expectations in story development and what words/meanings to
expect when the words reoccur.

In 'Lexical Segments in Text', Tony Berber Sardinha 'proposes a
detailed and ingenious method for getting at the boundaries within a
text,' by looking at changes in aboutness, again, based on repetition
(in this instance, by analyzing lexical links across texts). The
author asks, 'Can a computer program do this?' While Michael Hoey's
model applies to connectivity rather than segmentation, and if groups
of sentences with a degree of lexical similarity can be considered
'similar', then presumably the opposite can also hold true. However,
the volume editors themselves point out that the world is too big for
any limited approach that a computer system solve-it is through the
continual process of 'model making, model implementation and model
testing' that insights are found and progress made.

The Repetition-Conjunction dichotomy reappears in 'Patterns of Lexis
on the surface of texts', a sly acknowledgement of Michael Hoey's
best-known work. Author Malcolm Coulthard is concerned with textual
plagiarism, and as plagiarists copy not only lexical items, but even
entire sentences, a Matching relation where lexical repetition between
texts can be compared, is a useful step toward this end.
Interestingly, Coulthard uses literary texts, but also student essays
and police records of interviews as his 'corpus'. Since an important
issue in plagiarism is directionality, (who wrote what first?),
Coulthard even proposes a means for determining this, by comparing
cohesive devices between the texts. Admittedly, while this is still
an emerging methodology, the possibilities for 'identifying written
voices', as a previous reviewer pointed out, nonetheless exist.

'Patterns of text in teacher education' asserts the need for studying
the macro, as opposed to the micro level of texts, where the lion's
share of educational concerns seems to rest on grammatical and
syntactic concerns. Unlike the rest, authors Julian Edge and Sue
Wharnton evoke a narrative and use it to explain Hoey's
Situation-Problem-Response Evaluation (SPRE) model. Where non-native
speakers may complain of, say, problems with grammar and lexicon, L1
language speakers may only be able to say that 'writing is tricky.'
The goal of such macro awareness, therefore, appears to be to 'obtain
the mental tools to describe and solve...problems'.

HMI (Human Machine Interaction)offers a type of discourse whereby the
user must interact with a machine according the machine's agenda,
which allows for, perhaps, a range of prompts at a command line or
some clicks on a specified part of screen. In 'The deification of
information', one of the founding fathers of corpus linguistics, John
Sinclair, describes such one-way model so typical of HMI, as opposed
to the two-way communication model which humans use amongst
themselves. As HMI uses a one-way type of communication, the human
user is unable to revert to her own agenda to ascertain the current
state of the machine and adjust the communication strategy
accordingly. This is a dangerous state of affairs when humans are
increasingly ill-equipped to handle 'the vast amount of information
available by computers', as a previous reviewer put it.

As I am not only familiar with Michael Hoey's work from material
related to this review, I was at first a bit confused by the 'In Honor
of' part of the title, as it implied to me that there would be a
keener sense of 'aboutness' or connectedness between the works
represented here. Nonetheless, this volume brings to the surface a
number of separate issues which appear to have been invoked by Michael
Hoey's work (see the references below). And the articles themselves
illustrate the range of application of his ideas.

In any case, one doesn't have too much trouble finding a binding
thread among the articles when one considers the notions of Repetition
and Conjunction as cohesive devices.

For added readability, the volume's index is broken into a 'Name
Index' and a 'Subject Index', which those perusing the book for
specific knowledge or reference purposes may find useful.

REFERENCES

Hoey, M.P. 1983. On the Surface of Discourse. London: George Allen & Unwin.

Hoey, M.P. 1991. Patterns of Lexis in Text. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.

Hoey, M.P. 2001. Textual Interaction. London: Routledge.

ABOUT THE REVIEDWER

John Hammink holds a B.Sc. in Linguistics from Eastern Michigan
University. He has been working for the last five years in the areas
of data-security software localization and validation, where his work
focus ranges from system test automation using trainable language
corpora to applying corpus linguistic research in software document
inspections. His other interests include Linguistic Evolution and
the. Finno-Ugric Language group.
 
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