A functional perspective of cohesion in English

Seminar Paper, 2001

15 Pages, Grade: 3,0 (3)


Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Functional perspective of cohesion
2.1 Reference
2.2 Ellipsis
2.3 Conjunction

3. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The phenomena of the human language are examined and analysed by linguists. Linguists mainly examine language for its grammar. They try to describe in which way words and sentences are arranged that they result in a senseful and comprehensible text. Another field of investigation of linguists is described by the item pragmatics. In grammar general rules for using language are established and additional to that pragmatics point out in which way certain combinations of words or sentence structures are communicative in social context. To generalize, the categories grammar and pragmatics represent one of the intentions of linguists that is to establish devices which explain the general and the special use of a language. With the help of the results found out by the linguists one can explain for example why this word is used on that position or why this word must be used on that position. Questions such as “Why do we understand a text as a text?” or “How do we work with language to create a text which is senseful and comprehensible and fits in social context?” could be answered.

Analysing texts of any kind is a very useful method for the aim of describing language functions. When we speak of a text, we speak of “Any passage, spoken or written, of whatever length, that forms a unified whole.”[1] The question that is put first is what is a text and what is not, what are the features that distinguish text from a collection of unrelated sentences.

Halliday points out that every text has a texture. “A text derives this texture from the fact that it functions as a unity with respect to its environment.”2 There are certain linguistic features that contribute to textual unity. Apart from other concepts this fact is described by the concept of cohesion. “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 dependent on that of another.”3 Formulated in other words, cohesion implies semantic resources for linking a sentence with was has gone before.

The aim of this paper is to give a survey of the textual phenomenon cohesion by describing it with the help of an article of a newspaper. By analysing this article the paper pays attention to the linguistic resources of cohesion which are reference, ellipsis and conjunction , to point out how the resources help to create text, to organize text and experience the interpersonal and the experiential coherence of the text.

2. Functional perspective of cohesion

As I mentioned above cohesion is described as a textual phenomenon whereas coherence is a mental one. In most cases cohesion and coherence are linked and linguistic resources of cohesion are used to express coherent meanings.4 The important difference between coherence and cohesion is the fact that coherence also works without cohesion but not the other way around. Therefore a speech or a text with a large amount of cohesive features must not necessarily be coherent. This fact can be explicitely shown in the following example:

Father was home. Home is here. Here is there. There was mother.

The last word of one sentence is the beginning of the next sentence. We are confronted with repetition, reference to the sentence before and thus a cohesive device. However these sentences together make no sense. It is just a series of sentences without meaning or aim. That is why „Cohesion does not concern what a text means, it concerns how the text is constructed as a semantic edifice.“5 Cohesion helps to create text and thus it is the text forming component of the linguistic system.

2.1. Reference

Reference can be regarded as the most common linguistic resource for creating text because within the text sentences are related, and reference expresses this relation most. In most cases the use of reference is not pure repetition of words of the sentence before, but a repetition of meaning of words. Thompson distinguishes between exophoric reference, pointing outwards to the world, and endophoric reference, pointing inwards to the text.6 The paper will consider both, because the references complement each other and it is important to involve exophoric reference in the analysis.

Anelka wants to move from PSG

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Nicolas Anelka , who has never been happy for long at any club he has played for , is now planning to leave Paris Saint-Germain.

According to the reports in France, the 22-year-old striker is fed up with the pressure, disappointing results and endless criticism he has faced in Paris since he moved from Real Madrid last summer for a French record fee of 22 million pounds.

Anelka has asked his brothers, Claude and Didier, who are also his agents, to seek offers from Italian and English clubs. The brothers have met Internazionale officials already, and PSG officials have authorised the brothers to seek transfer offers in the region of 200 million francs ( 200 million pounds ).

After starting his professional career with PSG, he left in 1997 for Arsenal. Two years later he was transferred to Real Madrid, after a season of complaining about his treatment in Britain, but his short stay in Spain was dogged by poor performances and arguments with management and players. At one point he was suspended for 45 days after refusing to train with the team.

Though he scored only four goals for Real last season, Anelka gained a Champions´League winner´s medal with the Spaniards and was in France´s successful Euro 2000 squad. Anelka has scored 12 times for PSG since then but events have recently begun to sour for the striker nicknamed „the eternal malcontent“ in France.

In February, Anelka answered fans on the PSG´s website by saying a lot of people were against him because he makes a lot of money.7

The headline of the article introduces the two main participants of the text: Anelka, a proper name and the abbreviation PSG.


[1] Halliday, Hasan, Cohesion in English ( London: Longman, 1994 ) 1.

2 Halliday, Hasan, 2.

3 Halliday, Hasan, 4.

4 Thompson, Introducing Functional Grammar ( London: Edward Arnold , 1997 ) 147.

5 Halliday, Hasan, 103.

6 Thompson, 149.

7 THE INDEPENDENT, 6 April 2001.

Excerpt out of 15 pages


A functional perspective of cohesion in English
http://www.uni-jena.de/  (Institute for English Language Sciences)
3,0 (3)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
441 KB
English, Pre-seminar
Quote paper
Mag. Medienwissenschaft Holger Koch (Author), 2001, A functional perspective of cohesion in English, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/17086


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