Roehampton or SIL Either/Or

clayton stirling bartholomew c.s.bartholomew at
Sun Aug 6 17:38:27 EDT 2000

I was exploring the question of thematic cohesion with reference to
 Mk 9:38-41, how it fits into the semantic structure of Mk 9:30-50 when
after several days of pondering this I pulled Levinshon* off the shelf and
took another look at section 17 "Boundary Features." The first two pages of
this section reads like 95 theses prepared to be nailed on the door at
Roehampton. Levinshon cites a litany of scholars including Beekman,  Callow
& Callow, Tomlin, and Givon in support for the notion that paragraph level
discourse structure is Semantically indicated and that formal language
features are only a secondary and somewhat unreliable indication of
paragraph level boundaries. Levinshon really drives this point home with
force and then spends the rest of the chapter explaining how to evaluate the
validity of formal language feature evidence which supports the paragraph
boundaries that have already been determined by Semantic Structural

How does this differ from the Roehampton approach? Jeffrey Reed* in
addressing textual cohesion introduces the concept of Semantic Chains.
Semantic Chains look superficially like they might be part of what others
call Semantic Structural analysis. But I don't think this is the case. Reed
ties Semantic Chains directly to formal language feature evidence such as
lexical patterns, co-referential pronominal pointers (dexis) and so forth.
Because he ties his semantic analysis to formal language feature evidence,
what might appear to be high level analysis is really just more low level

Levinshon* has liberated us from the bondage of "Semantic Chains"  by
proclaiming that we must look first to the Semantic Structure ( this is
called "Notional Structure" in some SIL authors). This is the discourse
level which contains the ideational structure of the text. The key point is
that Levinshon does not define Semantic Structure in terms of  formal
language feature evidence. This appears to be a point at which Roehampton
and SIL become an Either/Or.

There appears to be a very fundamental difference between the SIL school and
the Roehampton school when it comes to do how  questions about Semantic
Structure are formulated.


Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

*Levinsohn, Stephen Discourse Features of New Testament Greek,  2nd Ed.
 SIL  2000.

**See Page 100 of Reed, Jeffrey T ³A discourse analysis of Philippians²
Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.


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