Discourse and coherence

Reading list

Gisela Redeker

Ted Sanders

Selected topics in Discourse Analysis

Gisela Redeker, University of Groningen



 Some general remarks

 Session 1: Components of Discourse Structure

In this session, I will discuss the "Parallel-Components Model" (see Redeker 2000) with examples of discourse operators (discourse markers and connectives) signaling ideational, rhetorical and sequential relations. Depending on the interests of the participants, I will then focus either on discourse markers (mainly in spoken discourse) or on coherence relations (in particular Rhetorical Structure Theory, which now has a website, a discussion list, and a nice annotation tool, see Mann 2000/2001).

Required reading: [will be made available]

Suggestions for additional reading:


Session 2: Quotation and indirect speech representation

I will present an analysis of speech representation in a corpus of 77 Dutch newspaper articles (parts of this analysis are presented in Redeker 1996). Depending on participants' interests, I can expand on the theoretical and methodological issues involved (including a comparison with other approaches) or add a presentation on the rhetorics of literary book reviews in newspapers (where quotation is only one aspect of the analysis; see Redeker 1999).

Required reading: [will be made available]

Suggestions for additional reading:


Session 3: Computer-Mediated Communication

How does the use of electronic media influence the way we communicate? Linguistically interesting aspects of this question include the management of asynchronous and synchronous written interaction (email, messaging, and Internet relay chat) and the registers and conventions that develop with the emerging new genres. I will discuss stylistic features of electronic discourse - with attention to gender differences and/or genres, depending on participants' interests - and perspectives for future research.

Required reading:

Suggestions for additional reading:

Discourse structure and coherence: a cognitive approach

Ted Sanders

Utrecht institute of Linguistics OTS / Dpt. of Dutch Language and Culture

Universiteit Utrecht

Trans 10

NL-3512 JK Utrecht

e-mail: ted.sanders@let.uu.nl

General description

This course will deal with the issue of discourse structure, both in terms of analysis and in terms of the cognitive representation language users have or make of a discourse.

One of the main ways in which discourse coherence manifests itself is in so-called coherence relations (relations like Cause-Consequence and Contrast) between the segments of a discourse. A basic tenet of the course will be that in order understand the regularities behind coherence relations properly we have to look at those relations as cognitive entities (and not merely as handy tools for text analysis).

In the first talk I will present a framework for describing coherence relations and coherence will be opposed to cohesion. Then I will outline a cognitive theory of coherence relations and discuss some alternative approaches. I will specifically go into the need for classifying coherence relations and connectives, and for evidence for those classifications.

In the second talk, the processing of coherence relations and their markers provides much insight into the intricate relation between the surface code in a text and the representation that readers make of such a text.

Finally, I will move to issues of text production in the third talk, and relate them to the hierarchical structure of discourse.


Talk 1. Discourse structure: on Cohesion, coherence and coherence relations

Introduction. Overview of the course. Central questions. Toward a cognitive theory of discourse coherence. Need for classifying coherence relations. Evidence for classifications. Relationship with text types. Connectives and subjectivity.


Talk 2. Processing: Surface code, relational coherence and text representation

Psycholinguistic evidence for the role of the surface code in creating a text representation.


Talk 3: Production: from the analysis of hierarchical structure to text quality

Text production: on-line processes, not too much research on the relationship with discourse structure. Hierarchical structure in analysis. Expectations about the cognitive representation: activation and accessibility. Pause analysis during writing. Relationship with hierarchical structure. Predict text quality?


Background reading (not obligatory, just background)

On cohesion and connectives

Halliday & Hasan (1976)


On coherence and coherence relations

Hobbs (1979)

Mann & Thompson (1986)


On psycholinguistic evidence and coherence relations

Noordman & Vonk (1997)


On classifying coherence relations

Longacre (1976)


On subjectivity

Stein & Wright (eds., 1995) and especially the contributions of Traugott and Verhagen.


Preparatory reading (Highly recommended)


Talk 1

Mann, W.C., & Thompson, S.A. (1988)

Sanders, T. & Spooren, W. (to appear)

Sanders, T., Spooren, W., & Noordman, L. (1992, 1993).

Grosz, B. & Sidner, C. (1986).

Moore, J. & Pollack, M.. (1992).

Sanders, T. & Spooren, W. (1999).


Talk 2

Millis & Just (1994)

Noordman, L. & Vonk, W. (1998)

Sanders, T. & Noordman, L. (2000)

Millis, Graesser & Haberlandt (1993) * needed for preparation of an assignment*

Degand, L. et al. (1999).


Talk 3

Ariel (1988)

Mann & Thompson (1988)

Polanyi (1988).

Sanders & Van Wijk (1996a, b)

Schilperoord & Sanders (1997)


Further reading

Coherence relations and connectives: general

Special issue of Discourse Processes (1997), Spooren & Risselada (eds.)

Special issue of Journal of Pragmatics (1998), Risselada & Spooren (eds.)

Bublitz, Lenk & Ventola (1999)


On cognitive approaches to coherence

Garnham & Oakhill (1992)

Givón & Gernsbacher (1995)

Fayol & Costermans (1997)


On (cross-)linguistic approaches to coherence relations and connectives

Couper-Kühlen & Kortmann (2000)

Knott & Dale (1994)


On psycholinguistic evidence concerning coherence relations

Spooren, Mulder & Hoeken (1998).


On acquisition of coherence relations

Evers-Vermeul (2000)


On subjectivity, text type, domain theory etc.

Degand & Pander Maat (2001)

Degand & Sanders (2001)

Sanders, J. & Spooren, W. (1996)

Sanders (1997)

Stukker, Sanders & Verhagen (1999)



Ariel, M. Referring and accessibility. Journal of Linguistics, 24, 65-87.

Bublitz, W., Lenk, U., & Ventola, E. (eds.). (1999). Coherence in spoken and written discourse. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Couper-Kuhlen, E. & Kortmann, B. (eds.) Cause, condition, concession and contrast: Cognitive and discourse perspectives. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Degand, L., Lefèvre, N., & Bestgen, Y. (1999). The impact of connectives and anaphoric expressions on expository discourse comprehension. Document Design, 1, 39-51.

Degand, L. & T. Sanders. (1999). Causal connectives in language use. Theoretical and methodological aspects of the classification of coherence relations and connectives. In J. Oberlander, A. Knott, T. Sanders & J. Moore (eds.). Proceedings of the international workshop on levels of coherence in discourse, University of Edinburgh, July.

Evers-Vermeul, J. (1999). De complexiteit van connectief-verwerving [The complexity of connective acquisition] Paper submitted for publication.

Fayol, M., & Costermans, J. (eds.). (1997). Processing interclausal relationships in production and comprehension of text. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Garnham, A., & Oakhill, J. (eds.). (1992). Discourse representation and text processing. A special issue of Language and Cognitive processes. Hove, UK: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Gernsbacher, M. A., & Givón, T. (eds.) (1995). Coherence in spontaneous text. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Grosz, B.J., & Sidner, C.L. (1986). Attention, intentions and the structure of discourse. Computational Linguistics, 12, 175-204.

Halliday, M.. & Hasan, R. (1976). Cohesion in English. London: Longman.

Hobbs, J. R. (1979). Coherence and coreference. Cognitive Science, 3, 67-90.

Hobbs, J. R. (1990). Literature and cognition. Menlo Park, CA: CSLI.

Knott, A. (to appear). Semantic and pragmatic relations and their intended effects. In T. Sanders, J. Schilperoord & W. Spooren (eds.). Text representation: Linguistic and psycholinguistic aspects. Amsterdam, etc.: Benjamins.

Knott, A., & Dale, R. (1994). Using linguistic phenomena to motivate a set of coherence relations. Discourse Processes, 18, 35-62.

Knott, A., & Sanders, T. (1998). The classification of coherence relations and their linguistic markers: An exploration of two languages. Journal of Pragmatics, 30, 135-175.

Longacre, R.E. (1976). An anatomy of speech notions. Lisse: Peter de Ridder Press.

Mann, W. C., & Thompson, S. A. (1986). Relational propositions in discourse. Discourse Processes, 9, 57-90.

Mann, W. C., & Thompson, S. A. (1988). Rhetorical Structure Theory: Toward a functional theory of text organization. Text, 8, 243-281.

Martin, J. R. (1992). English text. System and structure. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

McNamara, D. S., & Kintsch, W. (1996). Learning from texts: Effects of prior knowledge and text coherence. Discourse Processes, 22, 247-288.

Millis, K.K., Graesser, A.C., & Haberlandt, K. (1993). The impact of connectives on the memory for expository texts. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 7, 317-339.

Millis, K.K., & Just, M.A. (1994). The influence of connectives on sentence comprehension. Journal of Memory and Language, 33, 128-147.

Moore, J. D., & Pollack, M. E. (1992). A problem for RST: The need for multi-level discourse analysis. Computational Linguistics, 18, 537-544.

Noordman, L. G. M., & Vonk, W. (1997). The different functions of a conjunction in constructing a representation of the discourse. In M. Fayol, & J. Costermans (eds.), Processing interclausal relationships in production and comprehension of text. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Noordman, L. G. M., & Vonk, W. (1998). Memory-based processing in understanding causal information. Discourse Processes, 26, 191-212.

Pander Maat, H. & Degand, L., (2001) Scaling causal relations in terms of speaker involvement. Special issue of Cognitive Linguistics, to appear.

Pander Maat, H., & Sanders, T. (2000). Domains of use and subjectivity. On the distribution of three Dutch causal connectives. In E. Couper-Kühlen & B. Kortmann (eds.) Cause, condition, concession and contrast: Cognitive and discourse perspectives. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Pander Maat, H., & Sanders, T. (2001). Subjectivity in causal connectives. An empirical study of language in use. Special issue of Cognitive Linguistics, to appear.

Pit, M., Pander Maat, H. & T. Sanders (1997). Doordat, omdat en want. Perspectief op gebruiksverschillen. Taalbeheersing, 19, 3, 238-251.

Polanyi, L. (1988). A formal model of the structure of discourse. Journal of Pragmatics, 12, 601-638.

Sanders, J., & Spooren, W. (1996). Subjectivity and certainty in epistemic modality: A study of Dutch epistemic modifiers. Cognitive Linguistics, 7, 241-264.

Sanders, T. J. M., & Noordman, L. G. M. (2000). The role of coherence relations and their linguistic markers in text processing. Discourse Processes, 29, 1, 37-60.

Sanders, T., & Spooren W. (1999). Communicative intentions and coherence relations. Te verschijnen in W. Bublitz, U. Lenk, & E. Ventola (eds.), Coherence in text and discourse. (pp. 235-250). Amsterdam / Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Sanders, T. & Spooren, W. (to appear). Text representation as an interface between language and its users. In T. Sanders, J. Schilperoord & W. Spooren (eds.). Text representation: Linguistic and psycholinguistic aspects. Amsterdam, etc.: Benjamins. (will be made available)

Sanders, T. J. M., Spooren, W. P. M., & Noordman, L. G. M. (1992). Toward a taxonomy of coherence relations. Discourse Processes, 15, 1-35.

Sanders, T. J. M., Spooren, W. P. M., & Noordman, L. G. M. (1993). Coherence relations in a cognitive theory of discourse representation. Cognitive Linguistics, 4, 93-133.

Sanders, T. (1997). Semantic and pragmatic sources of coherence. On the categorization of coherence relations in context. Discourse Processes, 24, 119-147.

Sanders, T.& C. van Wijk (1996a). PISA A procedure for analyzing the structure of explanatory texts. Text 16, 91-132.

Sanders, T. & C. van Wijk (1996b). Text analysis as a research tool: How hierarchical structure gives insight in the writer's representation. In: C. Levy & S. Ransdell (red.) The Science of Writing. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 251-270.

Schilperoord, J. & T. Sanders (1997) Pauses, cognitive rhythms and discourse structure. An empirical study of discourse production. In Andreas Liebert, Gisela Redeker & Linda Waugh (eds.) Discourse and perspective in Cognitive Linguistics.. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Stukker, N., T. Sanders & A. Verhagen (1999). Waar een wil is, is geen wet. De categorisering van causale relaties binnen en tussen zinnen. Gramma/TTT, 7, 66-86.

Spooren, W., Mulder, M., & Hoeken, H. (1998). The role of interest and text structure in professional reading. Journal of Research in Reading, 21, 109-120.

Stein, D., & Wright, S. (Eds.) (1995). Subjectivity and subjectivisation. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Sweetser, E. E. (1990). From etymology to pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Verhagen, A. (1995). Subjectification, syntax and communication. In D. Stein, & S. Wright (eds.), Subjectivity and subjectivisation. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.