[b-hebrew] Relevance Theory & Hebrew Semantics

C. Stirling Bartholomew jacksonpollock at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 17 21:51:02 EDT 2004


On 8/17/04 5:02 PM, "Eduard C Hanganu" <eddhanganu at hotmail.com> wrote:

> I don't know what is your working definition of "cohesion, " but I suspect
> that it is rather limited.

Yes, it certainly seems to have caused a lot of confusion.

>You have to remember that without text cohesion
> there is no coherence, logicality and relevance in the text, that actually
> without cohesion there is no text (see Odlin, 2000 in "Language Transfer.")
> Take a look at Halliday and Hasan's (1976) lenghty discussion on "Cohesion
> in English." On page 10, when they discuss 'cohesion and discourse
> structure,' they state:
> "Cohesion refers to the range of possibilities that exist for linking
> something with what has gone before. Since this linking is achieved through
> relations in MEANING (we are excluding from consideration the effects of
> formal devices such as syntactic parallelism, metre and rhyme), what is in
> question is the set of meaning relations which function in this way: the
> semantic resources which are drawn on for the purpose of creating text. And
> since, as we have stresssed, it is the sentence that is the pivotal entry
> here - whatever is put together within one sentence is ipso facto part of a
> text - we can interpret cohesion in practice, as the set of semantic
> resources for linking a SENTENCE with what has gone before."

I read Halliday and Hasan just a few months ago an agree with everything in
this quotation. 

When I talk about a break down in semantic cohesion I am referring to a
situation where the **lexical** semantic values assigned to the low level
constituents in a discourse segment do not work together coherently. The
text analyst is tempted in a situation like this to look at alternatives to
these assignments in order to resolve the problem and in some cases we end
up with a forced fit; a reading where dubious semantic values are used with
less than adequate justification because the analyst is compelled to find a
semanticly cohesive text.

I see this happening all the time.

Discourse cohesion is something that can be attained somewhat independent of
semantic content. You can have a cohesive discourse segment as defined by
Halliday and Hasan which has no coherent meaning. So you are correct, I am
limiting the scope of my discussion to semantic cohesion.

Thank you for your comments,
Clay Bartholomew 

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list