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Modelling the flow of discourse in a corpus of written academic English

Presentation for Corpus Linguistics 2011 on combining Reference, Theme and Information systems to model discourse flow
by

Nick Moore

on 1 October 2011

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Transcript of Modelling the flow of discourse in a corpus of written academic English

Modelling the flow of discourse in a corpus of written academic English
Nick Moore
Khalifa University
United Arab Emirates

Aims:
Outline 3 systems of Reference, Theme & Information in SFL
Describe how they interact quantitatively
Demonstrate how they interact qualitatively
The System of Reference
J.R. Martin: English Text. John Benjamins . 1992
2 Systems:
Participant Identification
Participant Tracking
Participant
Identification

Participant = "a person, place or thing, abstract or concrete,
capable of functioning as agent or medium in TRANSITIVITY”
Participant
Tracking

Bridging Relations
Moore, N. 2008. Bridging the metafunctions: Tracking participants through taxonomies. In Ventola & Jones, From Language to Multimodality. London: Equinox
Caselli, T. and Prodanof, I. 2006. Annotating bridging anaphors in Italian: in search of reliability. LREC 2006. Retrived from http://pages.cs.brandeis.edu/~marc/misc/proceedings/lrec-2006/pdf/80_pdf.pdf
The System of Theme
Fries, P.H. 2000. Issues in modelling the textual metafunction. In M. Scott and G. Thompson (eds.), Patterns of Text. John Benjamins
Martin, J.R. 1992. English Text. John Benjamins.
Halliday, M. & Matthiessen, C. 2004 Introduction to Functional Grammar. 3rd Edition. Arnold
2 Systems:
Theme type
Thematic Development
Participant Tracking & Participant Identification show how Individual items in text are related to each other
Theme
& Rheme

Theme is the “grounding” or “starting point" of a clause-as-message; what the clause-as-message is about
Theme analysis shows how clauses orient the reader to aspects of the discourse and Thematic progression reveals the dynamic relations from clause to clause
An impression of the discourse is given by Themes only
A continuation of elements is found within and between clauses
Themes are repeated and developed as the discourse progresses
New Themes, derived from larger Themes, are also developed, often in smaller cycles
Note:
Corpus Composition
Undergraduate Engineering Textbooks
The System of Information Structure
Martin, J.R. 1992. English Text. John Benjamins.
Halliday, M.A.K. 1989. Spoken and Written Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Saenger, P. 1997. Space Between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press
2 Systems:
Non-/Final Position
(Hypotactic Relationship)
Information Structure in speech:
Function - to focus the listener's attention
Realised by - intonation contour, with tonic foot acting as focus point (New information)
Non-arbitrary relationship with the physiological potential of the aural system
Variation in assigning tonic foot
Information Structure in writing:
Function - to focus the reader's attention
Realised by - punctuation unit, with item prior to punctuation acting as focus point (New information)
Non-arbitrary relationship with the physiological potential of the visual system
Variation in word order
Information Structure: The division of continuous discourse into manageable units
New information: The part of the information unit to be focused on
Information Structure shows how the discourse is divided into units, while New infromation shows the attempts made by the speaker or writer to focus the attention of their listener or reader
When we combine the potential of each of these systems to make textual meaning, we can identify recognisable patterns that can have an effect on the flow of discourse
Corpus Analysis
Note:
Manual Annotation using systemic networks
http://www.wagsoft.com/CorpusTool
Free Download
Participant
Identification
Results
Participant
Tracking
Results
Theme & New
Information
Results
chi-square (1df) p<0.001 Participant Non-participant
Ideational 587.7
Textual 578.6
Initial 171.7
Non-initial 171.7
chi-square (1df) Theme & Presuming cf. Rheme & Presenting
1. MM 12.64 (p<0.001)
3. BN 7.96 (p<0.01)
6. AN 0.68 (p>0.2)
7. RM 16.2 (p<0.001)
All Texts 43.92 (p<0.001)
cf Simple or Initial Theme New Information
Presuming Nominal 278 279
Presuming Pronominal 80 19

chi-square(1) = 32.37065 p<0.001
cf Theme Rheme
Presumed-variable Nominal 438 592
Presumed-variable Pronominal 122 45

chi-square (1) =53.79764 p<0.001
cf Theme New Information
No referent – Addition 224 515
Referent 678 728

chi-square(1)= 63.76807 p<0.001
cf Theme New Information
Superordination 528 476
Composition 67 144
Nuclear Relations 26 37

chi-square(2)= 31.72448 p<0.001
cf. Theme New Information
Complete Repetition 243 272
Substitution 130 43

chi-square(1)=40.78477 p<0.001
Texts reveal patterns associated with centering theory, thematic progression and information structure
Texts reveal patterns associated with centering theory, thematic progression and information structure
Texts reveal patterns associated with centering theory, thematic progression and information structure
Texts reveal patterns associated with centering theory, thematic progression and information structure
However, only when all three systems can be quantified can qualitative differences in discourse be measured
However, only when all three systems can be quantified can qualitative differences in discourse be measured
However, only when all three systems can be quantified can qualitative differences in discourse be measured
New Information reveals greater variety & less predictability than Themes
Text 1
Text 2
Text 3
Text 4
Text 6
Text 7
Text 5
Theme & New Information
Participant or Non-Participant in Theme type & Theme position
Comparison of Presuming Reference in Theme Position with Presenting Reference in Rheme across different texts and in whole corpus
Nominal and Pronominal Presuming reference in Theme and Rheme
Nominal and Pronominal Presuming reference in Theme and as New Infromation
Referred or Additional Participant in Theme and as New Information
Type of Semantic-Lexical tracking relationship in Theme and as New Information
Complete repetition or replacement of referred lexical item in Theme and as New Information
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