Pragmatic Paragraphs (was:Roehampton or SIL Either/Or)

clayton stirling bartholomew c.s.bartholomew at
Mon Aug 7 16:44:40 EDT 2000

on 08/07/00 10:18 AM, yochanan bitan-buth wrote:

> PS: (let's see if we can't douse someone's molotov cocktail)
>> 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.
> The last sentence is true, but because paragraphs are pragmatically
> indicated and are neither marked by linguistic surface structures nor by
> semantic structures.


Haven't we been here before? Levinson has a footnote* which reads:

(1) "Randall Buth (private conversation**) suggests that it would be better
to call the paragraph a pragmatic unit, rather than a semantic one, since it
reflects what the author views to be a single theme."

This footnote appears in the following paragraph:

"As a SEMANITC unit, (1) then, the boundaries of a paragraph or section are
defined on SEMANTIC grounds ('if the theme changes, then a new unit has
started'), not with reference to the surface features discussed in earlier
chapters (conjunctions, constituent order, etc.)."


The paragraph quoted above appears on a page which quotes several scholars
in support of this notion. Randall is included as a dissident voice. So, it
would appear that there is some diversity of opinion on this subject among
the folks who have at one time or another been associated with SIL. This is
hardly surprising. Rather than talk about SIL and Roehampton it would be
more accurate to just talk about S. Levinshon and J. Reed as two authors of
recent works on the topic of DA in the Greek NT. This would make Cindy happy
since she has no obligation to come to the defense of J. Reed's views on

On the topic of  molotov cocktails I think in light of the fact that the
whole western half of North America is burning right now we would be well
advised to leave the topic of fire out of this. Just mouthing the word
"fire" in a public place would get you thrown into the slammer under the
present circumstances.


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

See note #1 on page 271 of Levinsohn, Stephen Discourse Features of New
Testament Greek,  2nd Ed. SIL  2000. This foot note also appeared in the
1992 edition of this book.

**In a previous discussion Randall Buth told me that this discussion with
Steven Levinshon did NOT take place over double lattes and croissants in the
dining room of the Menacham Begin wing of the King David Hotel. 

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