In this essay, I will try to analyse a news article by applying the principle of cohesion which is a fundamental concept in discourse analysis. My essay starts with a brief introduction of language, discourse, discourse analysis, and cohesion. Data collection, relevance and significance will be also explained. I will then try to analyse the article in details by finding elements of cohesive ties and devises. I will later illustrate the implications of discourse analysis and cohesion on English Language teaching and how discourse analysis can be incorporate in language teaching. I will also try to suggest some techniques to integrate or introduce cohesion in Writing and Reading classrooms.
Language is a means of oral and written communication. It is a communication structure translated into written symbols and/or spoken sounds which carry meaning; texts or discourses are a realisation of the meaningful level of language (Hammarstrom, 1976:1). In defining ‘discourse’, Crystal (1992:25) states “Discourse: (is) a continuous stretch of (especially spoken) language larger than a sentence, often constituting a coherent unit such as a sermon, argument, joke, or narrative”.
The concept of language and discourse has necessitated that researchers scrutinise and analyse language. This is when discourse analysis has gained importance. As for the origin of discourse analysis, Trappes-Lomax (2004:133) argues that it has actually emerged from linguistic research, anthropology, sociology and psychology. Researchers then produced much literature of discourse and text.
The text has been defined in different ways. For example, ã€€Brownã€€andã€€Yule
¼ˆ1983¼š6¼‰identify that the textã€€is “theã€€representationã€€ofã€€discourseâ€¦.the verbalã€€recordã€€ofã€€aã€€communicativeã€€act”. Beaugrande (1981) suggests that in order for a text, either spoken no written, to be a discourse seven criteria have to be met: Cohesion, coherence, intentionality, informativeness, situationality, intertextuality (cited in Renkema 2004:49). According to Hartman and Stork (1972), discourse is a text which structures a moderately complete unit of successive utterances that express a certain message. Moreover, Trappes-Lomax (2004) argues that discourse analysts need to evaluate not only the content of the text, but also how readers conjecture the author’s message (p. 133). This has drawn much attention to the complex nature of text.
Halliday and Hasan (1976:1) view the text as “a unit of language in use”. By the word ‘use’, they emphasise the communicative character of language and the text. In addition, they explained that what makes a text different from a non-text is the texture of the text. According to Halliday and Hasan (1976), cohesive relations of linguistic forms sketch a sort of unity within the text that adds a texture to the text (p. 2). This is why the concept of cohesion is vital in discourse analysis. In the following section of my paper, I will elaborate more in details on the concept of cohesion and cohesive ties and devises as presented by many researchers.
ã€€Although I plan to shed light on the debate and discussion of cohesion in literature, my analysis will draw upon Hallidayã€€andã€€Hasan¼ˆ1976) cohesive devises.
Debate over cohesion
1. Hallidayã€€andã€€Hasan¼ˆ1976¼‰consider the text not merely a set of connected sentences but rather a cohesively unified semantic unit. Halliday and Hasan (1976) states that
“The concept of cohesion is a semantic one; it refers to relations of meaning that exist within the text, and that define it as a text. Cohesion occurs where the interpretation of some element in the discourse is depend on that of another. The one presupposes the other, in the sense that cannot be effectively decoded except by recourse to it. When this happens, a relation of cohesion is set up, and the two elements, the presupposing and the presupposed are there by at least potentially into a text”. (p. 4).
The authors argue that there is intertextual association among the text elements. In their example, “”Wash and core six cooking apples. Put them into fireproof dish.”, there is a semantic tie of reference between ‘apples’ and ‘them’ which makes the text coherent (ibid: 4). The principle of reference is one of the five cohesive ties suggested by Hallidayã€€andã€€Hasan¼ˆ1976); they also suggested ellipsis, substitution, conjunction and lexical cohesion. Debate over Cohesion
2. Carrell’s response (1982) comes as a challenge to Halliday and Hasan’s principle of cohesion in that Halliday and Hasan don’t give enough significance to reader’s schematic knowledge as a essential factor in encoding the text. Carrell defines Schema as “interactive process between the text and the prior background knowledge or memory schemata of the listener or reader” (p.482). According to Carrell (1982) the reader’s schema plays an equal or even more important role than the merely linguistic features of the text. Carrell believes that the lexical cohesion comes from the text’s coherence and not the other way round.