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Riassunto esame linguistica inglese (secondo anno), libri consigliati: "Discourse analysis", Widdowson e "Translating texts from theory to practice", Ulrych Appunti scolastici Premium

Riassunto di linguistica inglese basato sui libri consigliati dal docente: "Discourse analysis" di H.G. Widdowson e "Translating texts from theory to practice" di M. Ulrych.
Argomenti trattati:
Text and discourse, language functions, context and co-text, register, thematisation, coherence and cohesion, the negotiation of meaning, the co-operative principle,... Vedi di più

Esame di Linguistica inglese docente Prof. O. Denti



-1 person +simple past


-from positions and directions in space, to technical objective descriptions.


-Analysis of places, people and relations, by the use of spatial chaining

strategies indicated by spatial positions in the sentence.

-spatial circumstances occupy the theme position

-description range from technical, objective, neutral properties to and more

frequently, attitudinal and evaluative/hyperbolic , metaphorical, comparative

and evocative viewpoints

-subjective impressions of relations and qualities , impressionistic descriptions.

Adverbials of place to reinforce the style.

-use of the simple past+ simple present of stative or motion verbs is existential

(ex there’s) nd shows timelessness.

We may get a vivid imagine of the writer’s experience.

-use of 1 person of a non-personal third person



-Stages to be followed by the reader, constructed through sequential chaining

strategies of temporal circumstances or processes. People and objects are

related through intended future behaviour.

The reader is expected to follow the steps:

-Recipes, instructions or prescriptions

-An evident future behaviour, an action demanding sentence, constructed

through sequential chaining strategies of temporal circumstances or processes.

The reader is expected to follow the steps through the use of imperative form

ex. Trust me, always remember, the passive voice and modal verbs.

-Would is used to give advice and when history is uncertain must shows

evaluation “ex. Must be painful”;

-Will is employed when giving recommendations and introducing the following

site on the itinerary, as in “you will need to spend at least three good hours to


-If clauses are employed with the same purpose: persuasion. Directions are

followed on the authority of practical validity

-The point of view may be subjective, as in instructions, or objective, as in

directions and regulations. It is expressed through the 1 person or the 2

st nd



-Narrative, descriptive and instructive tests have grammatical form associated

with them which may be expanded to form sequences of a textual nature and

they are all centred around real-world events and things.

-In contrast, expository and argumentative texts are cognitively oriented, as

they are concerned with explanation and persuasion which are both mental



-Present, through the use of through- and counter-argument patterns, and of a

conjunctive theme.

-Attitudes sustained in relation with their opposites.

-Recommendation is often introduces by expressions such as It is advisable,

would be the best time

Typical expressions are opinion verbs, or expressions of intention, decision,

expectations and beliefs, Expectations may not be fulfilled.

-Negative sentences and contrastive expressions

-Five types of argumentative style: informal, ironical, appreciatory, depreciatory

and persuasive.


-Generic concepts are dealt with, as well as the definition or explanation, along

various degrees of subjectiveness (through characterisation specified by

participants roles)

-Ideas and impressions are summarised from constituent elements of concepts,

ideas or impressions, or analysed into their constituent elements

-The writer presentation of statement and stance aims at persuading the reader

and generate consensus

-Verbs are often in the present tense, passive voice and impersonal forms

-Five styles: the formal, the comparative, the informal, the illustrative and the

technical/formal ones.

Few texts are pure realizations of a single type:

-Advertisements may be both argumentative/persuasive (this is good

because…) and instructive/exhortative (So buy now!)

-Expository texts can be neutral or contain evaluative elements (reviews,

references, letters to the editor)

-Laws regulate some aspects of society, leading the behaviour of its members,

nut also inform on these aspects (they are both instructive and expository)


A context can be thought of a situation in which we find ourselves, the actual

circumstances of time and place, the here and now of the home, the school,

the work place and so on. It is also the common knowledge of the people

concerned in the conversation.

When people talk to each other, they will naturally make reference to what is

present in such situations, present in the sense of both place and time.

So people make sense of what is said by making connection between the

language and the physical context of utterance.

The language serves to point out something which is present in the perceived

environment, and the listener can only understand what the speaker means by

the utterance by making the necessary connection.

Context is a source of meaning for every language event since it gives the

hearer or reader a frame of reference within which to interpret what has been

uttered or written.

The important point to note is that text does not in itself establish context but

serves to activate it in the reader’s mind.

To summarize: context is a psychological construct, a conceptual

representation of a state of affairs. In communication, what happens is that a

first-person party (a speaker or writer) produces a text which keys the second

persona party (listener or reader) into a context assumed to be shared. Once

the context is keyed in, then it can be extended or modified, by means of more


It may be that the first person party’s assumption of shared context is

mistaken. In spoken interaction, there is usually the possibility of repair

whereby the two parties can negotiate the required contextual convergence.

The contexts that texts are designed to key into are constructs of reality as

conceived by a particular groups of people, representations of what they know

of the world and how they think about it.

Although some of the knowledge that the text producer assumes to be shared

is of particular things, events, persons, either within the immediate situation of

utterance or not, these particulars are typically related to more general

schematic structures of knowledge.

A schema is a construct of familiar knowledge.

We can distinguish between:

-the co-text, the linguistic context, the context of word and sentences that go

with the text, an interrelationship and interaction between sentence elements.

-the context of situation: the extra linguistic context, the total environment

beyond the text

The distinction between the two was first made by the anthropologist

Malinowski in his theory of context in relation to translation.

M. was faced with the problem of how illustrate his ideas on the remote culture

of a group of pacific islanders to an English-speaking public. It was impossible

to render islander language in English without making reference to the cultural

background. Various alternatives were open to him: free translation, literal

translation, or translation with an extended commentary.

The last solution consisted of placing the texts within their environment, the

translation with commentary was able to provide information not only about

the immediate situation in which they were uttered but also about the total

cultural background which lay behind them and which determined their


The first is the c. of situation and the second the c. of culture.

So we can say that:

-the context of situation is defined as the immediate social and situational

environment in which a text is being realized

-the context of culture is the more external context surrounding the text and

its specific context of situation. And this is the awareness of cultural differences

and similarities.

[culture: the personal development, the knowledge of a country’s history and

institutions, the sociolinguistic and anthropological sense. Socially conditioned

aspects of human life.

So, a text is both an object, a product of its environment, of its Context of

situation and Context of culture, and an instance of social meaning in a specific


The relation between text and context is a systematic and dynamic one:

-on the one hand a text is the result of the context in which it is being realized

and where language is being shaped to function purposefully

-on the other hand, a context is then realized in turn by the text: through a text

a context is being created

The relationship between language use and context of situation identified by

Malinowski was further developed by Firth who saw linguistics essentially as

the study of meaning in terms of how language functions in context. He

therefore worked out a set of variables which had to be present in the context

of situation for meaningful interactions to take place: the participants, the

action taking place (verbal or non-verbal), other features and the effect of the

verbal action.


The variable of a language event can also be looked at in terms of Halliday’s


A relationship exists between a given situation and the language used in it.

Register is related to the use to which language is put in a particular social

context and is determined by the nature of the activity in which the language is


We use register to say different things, to express different meanings according

to the kind of social activity we are engaging in.

Registers tend to reflect conventionally-accepted types of discourse, which

mainly differ in grammar and vocabulary.

Halliday distinguish 3 main variables in the context of situation and

consequently I the register:

-THE FIELD OF DISCOURSE refers to what is actually taking place (event or

activity) that is to say to what the participants are doing with the language, in a

particular spatial and temporal setting. It also includes what the interaction is

about (the subject-matter or a topic) and what the participants know or not

know about it (shared/unshared knowledge)

So we can speak of technical, scientific and legal registers, the language of

sports, institutional registers etc.

-specialised vs non- specialised (the vocabulary specific to the field or the

vocabulary that is common to other fields)

Field parameters:

-Experiential domain: types of texts

-Goal orientation: general vs in detail orientation towards categories of reader

(websites vs travel guides)

-social activity

-THE TENOR OF THE DISCOURSE refers to the role relationship between the

participants in a communicative event. The level of formality of language is

influenced by the social situation in which it is produced and the status of the


Martin Joos has defined 5 levels of formality which can be seen as a continuum:

frozen, formal, consultative, casual, intimate. Another division can be: formal,

neutral, informal


-Power relations: equal/unequal

-Formality: formal/informal

-Closeness: distant/neutral/close

-THE MODE OF DISCOURSE refers to the part of language itself is playing in

the situation.

It concerns the medium that is chose (spoken written, written to be spoke,

spoken to be written) and the channel through which the communication takes

place (essay letter, lecture, telegram).

There are also others variables:

-Role: ancillary (language accompanying nonverbal activity as when we talk as

we cook together) or constitutive (the event is defined by the language as in a


-Directionality: uni-directional channel or bi-directional (unidirectional allows

only monologue, bidirectional allows dialogue)

-Media: use of visual contact (ex. Visual for a telephone conversation) use of

multimedia (blackboard, PowerPoint)

-Preparation: spontaneous vs prepared, rushed vs time for reflection


Thematization is the tendency to arrange sentence in a manner as to draw

attention to what is communicatively more important.

In fact, a text will generally be arranged in a way as to focus the reader’s

attention on those parts of its content which are considered to be most


Not every word of very part of the text can have the same weight since this

would make reading and understanding an impossible task.

Each clause can be divided into two:

-Theme: the information that is already known to the reader, the initial part of

the message.

It indicates what the sentence is about.

It is context dependent in that the reader has access to the information offered

in it.

-Rheme: the new information. The remainder of the clause that functions as

the new context independent element.

The choice of what information to put where depends both on writers’

hypotheses about what the reader knows and on the way they wish to organise

their text

The theme/rheme distinction in English coincides with the ordering subject and


The theme as we said, is the first part of the clause and has the function of

“announcing” the starting point pf the message. When it occurs in this

expected part of the clause the theme is considered unmarked. In English

declarative clauses the unmarked theme for a main clause is the subject.

There can be a deviation from normal word order:

FRONTING: an element different from the subject is moved to the opening of

the sentence and an element or the subject is moved to the end of the


-INVERSION: the fronting of a clause element is often associated with

inversion. This can take the form of subject-verb inversion, as when place

adverbials are transposed to theme position

-CLEFTING: division of the sentence into two clauses each with its own verb.

It starts with the anticipatory it (empty theme) followed by the verb be and it is

used to give focus to a part of the clause which would otherwise not be


-PSEUDO-CLEFTING: wh- pronoun becomes the subject to foreground another

clause element

-LEFT/RIGHT DISLOCATION: Left dislocation set the point of departure for the

whole sentence and are marked themes.

Right dislocation refers to postponed identification: a kind of substitute theme

is used initially in the clause and refers cataphorically to the delayed theme

which is dislocated to the right to the end of the clause

-END FOCUS: anything that comes at the end of a clause will be interpreted as

the focal element in written discourse.

-PASSIVE VOICE: in the active construction the person who does the action is

the subject/theme, in the passive what matters is not the agent but the person

or thing influenced by the verb

So, the focus moves from what or who causes th happening to the happening



The theme/rheme division of a clause contributes to the development of

communication since it serves to move the discourse forward.

Together theme and rheme constitute THE COMMUNICATIVE DYNAMISM of

successive sentence in a text with the theme carrying the lowest degree of

communicative dynamism and the rheme drives the communication forward.

This functional organisation of the clause in terms theme and rheme has come



The choice and ordering of the theme and rheme in relation to superior text

units (paragraph, chapters) and the whole text is referred to as thematic


The most common pattern of thematic progression are:

a) -Linear thematization of rhemes, the most basic and straightforward form

of thematic progression

b) -Thematic progression with constant theme: subsequent themes are

related to the first theme

c) -Thematic progression by means of a split theme

d) -Thematic progression with subsequent themes derived from hypertheme

or metatheme

e) -Thematic progression with subsequent constant themes related to the

first rheme

f) -Thematic progression with subsequent new themes related to a constant



People don’t communicate in grammatical unit but in semantic units.

The distinction between a grammatical unit and a unit of meaning is that the

former refers to a formal level of language (how sentences are organized into

texts) and the latter to a functional level (how people put language to

meaningful use).

So, we can distinguish coherence and cohesion.

Coherence refers to the organisation of meaning in relation to one another.

The elements of the text correspond to the natural, real-world order of events

or sequences.

It refers to the semantic unity created between the ideas, sentences,

paragraphs and section of a piece of writing. It also means that a text is easy to

read and understand because it follows a certain kind of logical order and the

organization of ideas is systemical and logical.

The readers make cognitive links in the text and recognizes textual patterns.

These patterns are manifested in functional relationships between pieces of a

text (textual segments): phrases, clauses sentences or groups of sentences.

These relationships can be of various kinds:

a) Phenomenon-reason

b) Phenomenon-example

c) Cause-consequence

d) Problem-solution

e) Instrument-achievement


It represents the grammatical and lexical relationship between different

elements of a text which hold it together. To achieve good cohesion you need

to know how to use cohesive devices.

So, a text is cohesive if its elements are linked together and it is coherent if it

makes sense.

But a text can be for ex. Cohesive (linked together) but incoherent

(meaningless) and vice versa.




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Riassunto di linguistica inglese basato sui libri consigliati dal docente: "Discourse analysis" di H.G. Widdowson e "Translating texts from theory to practice" di M. Ulrych.
Argomenti trattati:
Text and discourse, language functions, context and co-text, register, thematisation, coherence and cohesion, the negotiation of meaning, the co-operative principle, critical discourse analysis.

Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in lingue per la mediazione linguistica
Docente: Denti Olga
Università: Cagliari - Unica
A.A.: 2018-2019

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher clato di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Linguistica inglese e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Cagliari - Unica o del prof Denti Olga.

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