Linguistics/Discourse Analysis

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Pragmatics adds the importance of context to the study of language. Discourse analysis takes things further, studying communication, such as dialogue or written texts.

Coherence vs. Cohesion[edit]

In linguistics, we differentiate between coherence and cohesion. Cohesion is the use of linguistic means to 'tie' material together. Examples of cohesive devices includeː

  • The use of connectives (but, if, however)
  • The use of anaphora and definite expressions to refer to previously mentioned concepts (the man, it)
  • The correct use of tenses and moods (He had done this before, but this time, the situation was different).

But a cohesive text is not necessarily coherent:

Firstly, red apples are red. Secondly, such apples are very tasty. Moreover, tastiness is quite subjective. Subjectivity affects our perception of apples.


This is a very cohesive text, but not coherent in the least. Coherence is more than linguistic: It requires extralinguistic knowledge to judge whether a piece of discourse 'makes sense'. By contrast, a text can be coherent yet not cohesive. In the next section, we will see some of these situations, when we deal with the flouting of maxims.

Conversations[edit]

Co-Operative Principle[edit]

The Gricean Maxims[edit]

Flouting the Maxims[edit]

Schemas and Scripts[edit]

Politeness Theory[edit]