Page 1

Research on Humanities and Social Sciences ISSN 2222-1719 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2863 (Online) Vol.3, No.9, 2013

The notion of text coherence in the current linguistic approach Arbër Çeliku Departament of German Language and Literature, State University of Tetova, Macedonia *Email: Abstract: This paper covers basic theoretical ideas for clarifying the notion of textual coherence. First of all, it comes to it, the paper explains the definition of text coherence, and topical structures are outlined, which have a central meaning in given texts, respectively in the body of the paper. Textual coherence is analyzed by many aspects: pragmatic, syntactic, semantic, lexical and cognitive, after which they are split into coherence A and coherence B, thus coherence A is closely correlated with the linguistic context and coherence B with non linguistic context. To achieve coherence B, the recipient also needs other parameters such as: the disposal of lexical knowledge, knowledge about the world, specialized knowledge of the text type, knowledge of the specific culture, general rules on communication etc. Keywords: Text linguistics, text coherence, text cohesion, textualisation Any written or spoken text has a linear phonetic or graphic structure which is formed according to certain rules. This more or less characterizes the concept of text cohesion. Text cohesion is based on “grammar interdepencies” (Heinemann/Viehweger 1991:76). These grammar interdepencies include “pronouns and the conjunctions of the text, as well as phonological, morphological and lexical phenomena, which realize the relationship between the parts of the text or the saying” (Rickheit 2000:275). In the phonological features belong “the means of lyrics in the form of rhyme and accent samples, while in the morphological-syntactic field the verb tenses and as clear cohesive means anaphora, phenomenon of substitution, conjunctions and the repetitions as lexical elements” (ibid, 277). Coherence on the other hand should be understood as “content continuity of the text in terms of a configuration of meaning" (Heinemann / Viehweger, ibid 76). Our determination where a text begins or ends in order to be a complete text, according to the current linguistic approach, is not dependant on the cohesion but on the coherence. It is obvious that a text should prove a rich inventory of cohesive means and to dispose with a proper stylistic level in addition to a clear chapter structure, subchapters, and so on, but this is not enough for a text to fulfil its communicative function. Coherence deals with this issue, which, as Adamzik states (2004:58), presents “a mechanism that regulates the production and reception of the text" which means that it primarily concerns the reconstruction of the entire text. This shows that cohesion guarantees us a good language text in the phonetic field, morphological-syntactic, stylistic, and so on, while coherence guarantees the logical-semantic relations of the text, or rather understanding the text as a whole (in this context Nussbaumer 1991:137 elaborates the concepts agreement between people, understanding, comprehension and understanding the text). I will attempt to illustrate how these concepts work with the help of concrete text. T1

Macedonia’s Changing History The use of excavators during the excavations in Skopje Fortress is an additional element in the mosaic of the government attempting to make it their own completely ethnically Macedonian country. Wake Up! considers the falsification of Albanian heritage of Skopje Fortress through the disappearance of Illyrian artefacts, which continues to persist, and represents only one fiendish element of the Government for claiming to have a greater Macedonian population. “There are many years that the project for the excavations of the fortress has been realized along with the decomposition of the barbaric authentic Albanian culture and deleting the Ilirian traces from their homeland. The punitive and forged expedition led by Pasko Kuzmani is using the state bulldozers to destroy everything that does not belong to his culture and that irritates the population by making them feel like foreigners, similar to his Goth ancestors that fourteen centuries prior were destroying everything in front of them”, said the leader of “Wake Up” Artan Grubi. (“Lajm”, 31 March 2010, online version)


Research on Humanities and Social Sciences ISSN 2222-1719 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2863 (Online) Vol.3, No.9, 2013


Nobody gave me a rose Spring. I passed the night in “Premium” Between the the pitchers wit wine. Insomnia In the morning I invaded Pristina asleep Nobody alive in the street. I hugged a stray dog. Nobody gave me a rose... (Kalosh Çeliku: Vdekja më deshi më pak se ti, Skopje 2005, p. 43)


Aspects of the theory of syntax The base of the syntactic component is a system of rules that generate highly restricted (perhaps finite) set of basic strings, each with an associated structural description called a base Phrase-maker [...] (Fragment from the book of Naom Chomsky: Aspects of the theory of syntax, published by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1965, p. 17)


Guttenberg stellt Teilabzug in Aussicht Pristina - Verteidigungsminister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (CSU) hat bei einem Kurzbesuch im Kosovo Hoffnung auf einen schrittweisen Abzug der Bundeswehr gemacht. Zwar wollte sich der Minister nicht auf einen Zeitpunkt festlegen, grundsätzlich sei aber eine Reduzierung des deutschen Kontingents von rund 1500 Bundeswehrsoldaten möglich.Guttenberg betonte nach politischen Gesprächen in der Hauptstadt Pristina jedoch, dass Deutschland beim Abzug nur gemeinsam mit der Nato agieren werden. Es gelte das Prinzip "gemeinsam rein, gemeinsam raus". (“Spiegel”, 29. March 2010, online version)

These texts effectively illustrate that the realization of the text coherence is based on the reader’s previous knowledge. T1 is easily understood, because the information it contains is from everyday speech. So the degree of complexity is not as high for the ordinary text recipients. T2 is not as coherent, since at the first sight the semantic-logical relations of the text are missing. The title does not match with poetry as well. Therefore the interpretation of these verses is left hanging, so it should be done from the perspective of the recipients of the text. T3 is only coherent, if the reader has enough specific philosophical acknowledgments. And T4 shows a certain degree of coherence only in specific lexical knowledge base, which are transmitted through the German language. For further analysis in this case, two texts follow: a newspaper article and an interview from the Albanian language section of BBC of Macedonian political figure Branko Crvenkovski dated 09.04.2004. The realization of this particular text is much more difficult, especially for those readers who do not have much knowledge regarding the social-political situation in the Balkans: T5

The dead are not going to vote more this time The Central Election Commission (CEC) announced yesterday at a press conference that, in the wake of reforms for Macedonia's EU membership, the country will avoid any corruption during parliamentary elections of 05 July - especially cases dealing with irregularities on voting lists (including the inclusion of the names of a number of deceased voters, who have consistently “given their vote” in the last elections). (“Fakti”, 01. March 2006, p 3)


I am very sorry for the incident that happened in Gostivar in 1997 [...] (The interview of B.Crvenkovski, given for the BBC Albanian section, 09.04.2004) 166

Research on Humanities and Social Sciences ISSN 2222-1719 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2863 (Online) Vol.3, No.9, 2013

The above texts show a highly variable degree of the text coherence, because it can be understood and interpreted in different ways by the recipients of the text. For example, an Albanian reader immediately knows what T5 references upon reading the title, as opposed to a foreigner, who will need more information and additional knowledge regarding the socio-political circumstances of the Balkans until they understand the true message of this article. It has become normal that in our country, the elections are constantly manipulated, so it is not unusual that even the dead vote, most of the time in favour of the ruling party. Understanding T6 is a little more challenging for both the Albanian reader and the foreign reader, because the statement of Cervenkovski entails many discursive forms: it can express a declarative statement, a form of irony, sympathy, and potentially diplomacy as well. Although not explicitly stated, any reader aware of recent historical developments may freely ask himself if Crvenkovski really feels sorry for the events of '97 in Gostivar, or if he simply just needs the Albanian vote to become the president of Macedonia. Therefore, we can say that the repentance of Cervenkovski serves as a means for achieving a goal, which was confirmed at the time he became president. From the above examples it is obvious that the implementation of text coherence is a constructive process. Coherence, as one of the basic criteria of textualisation according to Dressler (1981), should not be described as a pure text feature, but should be seen as a result of the activity of the recipient, who mainly has to deal with understanding of the text. As we have seen from the above examples, this process is not easy in any sense. People express themselves through texts and their primary goal is to help their readers understand their texts, but sometimes understanding the process is more complicated than it may seem because it depends on the individual and what representations and knowledge they have about the topic beforehand (objective reality). It is indisputable that the texts refer to something or address a particular topic, so they by default have meaning, but their meaning can be explicit or implicit. When we fully understand a text, then we get more than its explicit meaning. The basic question of any kind of theory of communication is: What is the relationship of thought, expression and comprehension? In this context, there are two types of coherence. In this example, let us consider coherence A and coherence B, in which the coherence A would be the conventional (explicit) meaning, while coherence B is the unconventional meaning, implicit or figurative reading of the text. Coherence A is strongly related to the linguistic aspect of the material, ie. can be easily accomplished by the producer and the recipient of the text (T1, T4). Whereas, in order to realize coherence B, additional information and knowledge is needed such as: knowledge about the world, specific knowledge in a certain field, knowledge about the the type of the text, knowledge of culture and social circumstances, etc. (T1, T4, T5 and T6). Thus much more is needed to be done, namely to activate the entire cognitive arsenal of the recipients of the text, because this kind of coherence entails abstract knowledge during which can sometimes modify the explicit meaning to an extreme. For example we can notice this in T6, where Crvenkovski’s statement can alternatively be interpreted as irony, compassion, diplomacy, and so on. The two types of coherence visually would look like this:


Research on Humanities and Social Sciences ISSN 2222-1719 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2863 (Online) Vol.3, No.9, 2013


Coherence A (The meaning word by word)

Coherence B (figurative meaning)

Conclusions As we can determine, cohesion and coherence constitute the two basic criteria of the text: the first criterion guarantees the grammatical continuity of the text (the way in which a text is linguistically constructed); whereas the second relates to semantic continuity, in which contextual parameters have an important role (i.e. individual and social experience, prior knowledge, knowledge about the world, knowledge about the type of text as well as specific professional knowledge) in the achievement text coherence. As we saw above, it appears that the implementation of the text coherence is a very complicated and dynamic process, which depends on many non linguistic factors. Especially in communicative interactions of members of different cultures, there should be specific knowledge about the culture in question otherwise it might result in various misunderstandings between the participants in the conversation. We estimate that the studies on the textual coherence, as one of the seven basic principles of textualization, according to De Beuagrande and DRESSLER (2013) should be focussed on intercultural research, because the century of globalization has a great weaving of cultures around the world and the recognition of other cultural corpus is inevitable. Bibliography: Adamzik, K. (2004): Textlinguistik. Eine einführende Darstellung. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Beaugrande, R. A. de / Dressler, W. U. (1981): Einführung in Textlinguistik. Tübigen: Gunther Narr. Çeliku, A. (2005): Koherenca tekstore. Hyrje në konceptet bazë të gjuhësisë së tekstit nëpërmjet një qasjeje krahasuese të shqipes me gjermanishten. Asdreni Shkup. Dibra, K. / Varfi, N. (1999): Gjuhësi teksti, Tiranë: shblu. Heinemann, W. / Viehweger, D. (1991): Textlinguistik. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Heinemann, M. / Heinemann, W. (2002): Grundlagen der Textlinguistik: Interaktion-Text-Diskurs. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Nussbaumer, M. (1991): Was Texte sind und wie sie sein sollen. Ansätze zu einer sprachwissenschaftlichen Begründung eines Kriterienrasters zur Beurteilung von schriftlichen Schülertexten. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Rickheit, G. (2000): “Kohärenz und Kohäsion” In: Brinker, K. / Antos, G. / Heinemann, W. / Sager, S. F. (Hg.): Text- und Gesprächslinguistik. HSK-Bd. 16.1. Berlin / New York, 275-283.


This academic article was published by The International Institute for Science, Technology and Education (IISTE). The IISTE is a pioneer in the Open Access Publishing service based in the U.S. and Europe. The aim of the institute is Accelerating Global Knowledge Sharing. More information about the publisher can be found in the IISTE’s homepage: CALL FOR PAPERS The IISTE is currently hosting more than 30 peer-reviewed academic journals and collaborating with academic institutions around the world. There’s no deadline for submission. Prospective authors of IISTE journals can find the submission instruction on the following page: The IISTE editorial team promises to the review and publish all the qualified submissions in a fast manner. All the journals articles are available online to the readers all over the world without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. Printed version of the journals is also available upon request of readers and authors. IISTE Knowledge Sharing Partners EBSCO, Index Copernicus, Ulrich's Periodicals Directory, JournalTOCS, PKP Open Archives Harvester, Bielefeld Academic Search Engine, Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek EZB, Open J-Gate, OCLC WorldCat, Universe Digtial Library , NewJour, Google Scholar

The notion of text coherence in the current linguistic approach  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you