|Title:||Comparative Study of the Discursive Structure of Argumentative Texts in French and English - About Their Linearity||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Élisabeth Le||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||Université de Montréal, Department of Linguistics and Translation|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Discourse Analysis;|
|Abstract:||Do French and English argumentative texts differ in their discursive structure? To which extent would this be due to linguistic or cultural differences between authors?
In order to address these questions, I built an integrative model of discourse analysis that takes into account the main teachings of cognitive psychology as well as the various research works conducted in the domains of coherence, functional organization, distribution of information and cohesion. With the help of this model were examined the different levels of textuality: 1) relations between sentences, the smallest units of analysis; 2) relations between macrostructures, the intermediate units of analysis of which a formal definition was given; 3) relations between text divisions, the largest units of analysis that are determined by the recursive application of the same logico-semantic rules used to define macrostructures. These semantic rules of coordination, subordination and superordination are derived from Hobbs rules of expansion and are based on the logical relation of inclusion. They allowed for the determination of the relative level of abstraction of units of analysis towards each other at the different levels and thus, revealed the hierarchical discursive structure of texts. The relations between units of analysis were also analyzed from the angle of functional perspective.
I analyzed two corpora of academic articles published in the field of public international law. From the graphics obtained upon completion of these analyses, I proposed a typology of paragraphs that can eventually lead to a grammar of paragraphs, I outlined a typology of texts and I defined textual linearity. It would seem that French and English authors do not share the same concept of paragraphs and it appeared that macrostructures play a key role in the text structure. Moreover, linearity at the sentential level is significantly higher in English texts. Finally, a statistical link was revealed between analyses of distribution of information (functional perspective) and of coherence and functional organization (analysis in terms of coordination, subordination and superordination).
The analyses based on this integrative model give leads for further research. In particular, on the theoretical level is posed the question of the nature of the link between distribution of information, coherence and functional organization as well as the nature of the interactions between the different levels of textuality. On the practical level, psychological experiments should be conducted to verify the practical relevance of the definition of textual linearity so that the effect of linearity on the readability and level of retention of a text could be studied.
This model of analysis has proven adequate for the study of discursive structures. However, additional research is needed in order to answer more appropriately the questions that prompted my work.