Discourse Analysis in D. Lodge's Thinks

Seminar Paper, 2002

17 Pages, Grade: 2,3 (B)


Table of Contents


I. Matter of Analysis
Beginning of David Lodge’s Novel Thinks

II. Textuality
a.) Definition of “Text”
b.) Seven Criteria of Textuality
II. Reference
a.) Deixis
b.) Pronouns
c.) Connotation & Denotation

III. Text Structure & Syntax
a.) Thematic Progression
b.) Syntactic Peculiarities

IV. Text Type
Definition of the Text Type
Concluding Remarks



Text linguistic science, respectively discourse analysis, is a rather young linguistic discipline, which was mainly established in the 1960s and 70s. It mainly emerged from three linguistic movements: rhetoric, stylistics and structural analysis of narratives.

Discourse analysis tries to figure out specific schemes which are relevant to define a chain of words as a text. As there have always been different definitions of what a text is it is absolutely necessary in this paper which definition is actually used. However, it has to be said that there is still no one and only valid definition of what a text is.

Thus, the beginning of the paper deals with several theoretical subjects and explains the term “text” that is relevant for the following analysis. Besides, it describes which criteria have to be fulfilled in order to achieve textuality.

In the course of the analysis the paper applies the introduced text theory to an excerpt of David Lodge’s novel Thinks… which was published in 2001. The excerpt’s textuality is examined by illustrating how far the seven criteria of textuality are fulfilled. This novel was chosen because it combines many different ways of telling. The analyzed extract, for example, is a stream of consciousness and contains many peculiarities. Therefore, it is very interesting to figure out if the passage can be defined as a text without problems.

Furthermore, this paper analyzes the relevant peculiarities in the text’s structure and in its syntax. In the course of this analysis, again, several necessary theoretical aspects are explained. Furthermore, the text type is named.

As there are no peculiarities in the text’s sound structure and as sign theory does not play a role these two points are not taken into consideration. At the end some concluding remarks sum up the text analysis’s most important results.

I. Matter of Analysis

Beginning of David Lodge’s Novel Thinks…

The analyzed text passage is an extract of David Lodge’s last novel Thinks…, which was published by Secker and Warburg in 2001. The novel contains several different narrative perspectives. The passage which is to be analyzed is an interior monologue, a so-called stream of consciousness in the first-person point of view:

One, two, three, testing, testing … recorder working OK… Olympus Pearlcorder, bought it at Heathrow in the dutyfree on my way to … where? Can’t remember, doesn’t matter … The object of the exercise being to record as accurately as possible the thoughts that are passing through my head at this moment in time, which is, let’s see … 10.13 a.m. on Sunday the 23rd of Febru – San Diego! I bought it on my way to that conference in … Isabel Hotchkiss. Of course, San Diego, ‘Vision and the Brain’. Late eighties. Isabel Hotchkiss. I tested the range of the condenser mike … yes … Where was I? But that’s the point, I’m not anywhere, I haven’t made a decision to think about anything specific, the object of the exercise being simply to record the random thoughts, if anything can be random, the random thoughts passing through a man’s head, all right, my head, at a randomly chosen time and place … […][1]

Looking at the text superficially it becomes clear that there are some peculiarities. For example, there are many jumps from one idea to the other which is emphasized by using three dots behind each other (…).

Without reading the text more aware the recipient will not be able to understand the sentences’ meaning. Thus, the reader is forced to exert his mind in order to arrange the words. Hence, the physical appearance of the words can influence the recipient in his judgment. Obviously, there are several characteristics which turn a chain of sentences into a text. Consequently, there are both interior and exterior aspects that are of importance for achieving textuality.

II. Textuality

a.) Definition of “Text”

In everyday life one usually associates the term “text” with a written piece of work which is generally more or less informative. However, if one has a look at the different definitions that are given by dictionaries, it becomes obvious that there is no one and only valid definition. Nevertheless, this paper uses a particular meaning by applying the term “text”. Yet it has to be pointed out from the beginning on that the decision of accepting or refusing textuality also depends on several subjective criteria.

Therefore, it is quite hard to systematize all characteristics which seem to be absolutely necessary for a text. Vater (²1994:25) points out, for example: “Die Schwierigkeiten bei der Textdefinition sind teilweise objektiver, teilweise subjektiver Natur: Sie liegen sowohl im Phänomen ‘Text’ selbst begründet als auch in der Verschiedenheit der verwendeten Ansätze.”

In contrast to everyday life text linguists do not regard writing as the only form of a text. On the contrary, they think that oral communication is also a text. Wawrzyniak (in: Vater ²1994:16) says, for example:

Kommunikation erfolgt durch T e x t e, die zwischen den Kontaktpartnern (Sprecher und Versteher, Schreiber und Leser) ausgetauscht werden. Unter Texten verstehen hier sowohl schriftliche als auch mündliche Äußerungen, die unterschiedlicher Länge sein können: von einem Ein-Wort-Text bis zum Gesamttext eines mehrbändigen Romans.

There is another important aspect for textuality. According to the linguists Halliday and Hasan (1976:1) the term “text” is: “…used in linguistics to refer to any passage, spoken or written, of whatever length, that does form a unified whole.” Thus, a text must have at least a kind of logical nexus.

That is why DeBeaugrande and Dressler (1981:3) have advanced the thesis, that something is only a text if it fulfills the seven criteria of textuality, otherwise the text would not be communicative and therefore, it would not be a text: “Wenn irgendeines dieser Kriterien als nicht erfüllt betrachtet wird, so gilt der Text nicht als kommunikativ. Daher werden nicht-kommunikative Texte als Nicht-Texte behandelt…”

b.) Seven Criteria of Textuality

In the following section there will be a short definition for each of the seven criteria of textuality according to DeBeaugrande and Dressler.

Simultaneously, there will be an analysis if the introduced text passage by David Lodge fulfills the criteria by giving examples.

(1) Cohesion:

As already explained a text is distinguished by the fact that it represents a unified whole: “Die Beziehungen zwischen den einzelnen Sätzen lassen sich in vielen Fällen an sprachlichen Elementen festmachen, die untereinander in einem deutlich syntaktischen oder semantischen Bezug stehen.” (Linke u.a. 1996:215) These references are called cohesion if there is a grammatical nexus and coherence if there is a semantic one.

In other words Halliday and Hasan (1976:4) describe: “Cohesion occurs where the INTERPRETATION of some element in the discourse is dependent on that of another. The one PRESUPPOSES the other, in the sense that it cannot be effectively decoded except by recourse to it.”

Is the criteria of cohesion fulfilled in the novel’s excerpt?

As already mentioned, there are many there are many jumps from one idea to the other by the narrator which effect that there are quite few cohesive elements. Nevertheless, there clearly is cohesion. The text is – although not too clearly – knotted by the help of grammatical means.

Example (TH,1):

…Olympus Pearlcorder, bought it at Heathrow in the dutyfree on my way to…

In this example the proper nouns Olympus Pearlcorder is replaced by the personal pronoun it.

- [+cohesion]

(2) Coherence:

In contrast to cohesion the term coherence describes the semantic references within a text. Bußmann (²1990:389), for example, explains: “[Kohärenz meint] den semantischen, der Kohäsion zugrundeliegenden Sinnzusammenhang eines Textes, seine inhaltlich-semantische bzw. kognitive Strukturiertheit.”

Summing up, it may be said that coherence refers to the meaning that is constituted by “outside” the text. That means: “the author and the recipient have to share at least some knowledge in order to create understanding.“[2]


[1] Lodge, David, Thinks... (London, 2001), p.1.

Zitate hieraus im folgenden unter dem Kürzel TH mit Angabe der Seitenzahl

[2] Seminar Protocol – PS Working with Texts –, (Mannheim, SS 02), p.1.

Excerpt out of 17 pages


Discourse Analysis in D. Lodge's Thinks
University of Mannheim  (Anglistics Seminar)
Proseminar Language Science
2,3 (B)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
537 KB
Textanalyse Discourse Analysis text analysis
Quote paper
Jochen Breunig (Author), 2002, Discourse Analysis in D. Lodge's Thinks, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/7207


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