COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUES- I ENGLISH Listening And Speaking Skills 15. RECOGNIZING COHESIVE DEVICES AND DISCOURSE MARKERS In English language there are tools that help in communicating accurately and avoiding misunderstandings. In the current lesson we shall learn about such tools and how to use them.
15.0 Objectives By the end of this lesson you will: i. ii.
Recognize Discourse Markers Recognize Cohesive Devices
15.1 Introduction It is essential to communicate well in order to avoid misunderstandings. Very often, we use certain phrases in whatever language we are communicating in that help us determine whether our audience has clearly understood us. Good speakers and writers of the English Language use many tools to ensure that they have been correctly understood. In this lesson, you will learn about two such tools- cohesive devices and discourse markers.
15.2 Recognizing Cohesive Devices and Discourse Markers Communication involves the process of expressing oneâ€™s thoughts to another person. It also involves the process of understanding things that are around us. Communication can take place through verbal as well as non verbal cues. In this section, we will concentrate on the verbal cues that we use in order to understand what we are listening to. We will understand the importance of discourse markers and cohesive devices and then practice identifying them in conversations. It is important to understand what a person is saying â€“ Even when someone speaks to us in our native language we attempt to make sense of what is
being said, and we go through a series of processes that help us understand the context. The matter that has been spoken must be presented in a logical and organized way for it to be understood. In order to do this, the speaker makes use of specific tools called cohesive devices and discourse markers. When we read, write, speak and listen, we can understand the material better if we are conscious of these tools. This prevents misunderstanding of the message.
15.3 Cohesive Devices A cohesive device can be defined as a word, phrase or clause, which organizes and manages a long message. The phrase “long message” refers to a message that has more than one sentence. 15.3.1 Types of Cohesive Devices In order to understand cohesive devices, we may categorize them into five distinct types: reference, ellipsis, substitution, lexical cohesion and conjunction. 1. Reference Items are those, which refer to something or someone, within the framework of the discourse. They can be pronouns ('he', 'she', 'it', 'they' and ‘him’), demonstratives ('that', 'those'), the article 'the', or other items ('such as'). For Example: Meera went to the chemist to buy medicines for her father. He was too sick to go himself. In this example, the word “He” refers to Meera’s father. 2. Ellipsis involves the deliberate omission of elements, despite being generally required by grammar, if they are considered to be obvious within the specific context. For Example: The five children sat in the shade of the banyan tree. Three of them were reading books, while the other two played a game of cards. In this example the word “children” has been omitted after the phrase “the other two”. 3. Substitution relates to the substitution of words or clauses with a generic word or phrase. For Example: All students except the ones who are in the function are expected to be in class on time. In this example the word “ones” refers to students. 4. Lexical cohesion is created by the repetition of a word or by using two words in a text that are semantically (similar in meaning) related. For Example:
The damage was so intense that they needed to call in experts to assess how severe it was. Here, the word “intense” is highlighted by the word “severe” in order to help the readers understand the importance of this point. 5. Conjunctions serve most frequently as cohesive devices (words and phrases such as and, but, because, suddenly, in the first place, however, although). They permit logical sequencing; they establish time-frames for actions and events; they create structures of meaning by establishing principal and supporting language units." For Example: Although the child was extremely rowdy and rude, her mother gave in to her demands. Here, the word “although” is a conjunction which connects the following two sentences. The child was extremely rowdy and rude. Her mother gave in to her demands. The conjunction “although” helps readers understand that even though the child was rowdy and rude, her mother did what the child ordered. The conjunction helps make this meaning very clear to the reader.
15.4 Discourse Markers Discourse markers are tools that are used when speaking and writing in order to make the message meaningful. Listeners and readers need to be conscious of these in order to comprehend effectively. 15.4.1 Functions and Uses of Discourse Markers There are different functions and uses of discourse markers: 1. To 'signpost' (signal) logical relationships and sequences – i.e. to point out how bits of what we say and write relate to each other. 2. To 'manage' conversations - to negotiate who speaks and when, to monitor and express participation in the topic. 3. To influence how the listeners or readers react. 4. To express our attitude to what we say and write. 15.4.2 Classification of Discourse Markers There are several different classifications for the meaning and functions of discourse markers, though the most often referred to are: 1. Adversative: These are the words that either tell us that the next words will give us information that has an opposite idea from the one just presented, or that the two ideas in the sentence have opposing meanings. The information in the second sentence qualifies the information in the first. For Example: I want to go to sleep now; however, I have to complete this work tonight. 3
2. Additive: These are words that tell us that we are adding more information. They are words used to present additional information. For Example: Rohit began a new rigorous exercise routine. Furthermore, he went on a strict diet to reduce weight. 3. Temporal (Time Sequence): These are words that give us an idea of when the occurrence took place. They communicate when the events in the text are related in terms of the time of the occurrence. For Example: Taraâ€™s mother went to buy vegetables. In the meantime, her father went to buy fruits. 4. Causal: These are words that tell us that the words that follow tell us of something that happened as a result of the occurrence that was just described. The relationship highlighted here is one of cause and effect. For Example: The manager noticed that many members of her team were not well prepared well their status report meetings. Consequently, she required that each member send a written summary of the report prior to the meetings.
The following table gives examples of discourse markers based on their function. Examples of Discourse Markers ADDITIVE
(Those words that (Those words that (Those words that tell us that the (Those words that tell us that we are tell us that the next words that follow give us an idea of words will give us adding more information that has tell us of something when the information) an opposite idea that happened as a occurrence took from the one just result of the place.) presented.) occurrence that was just described.) also
as a result
on the other hand
as well (as)
in addition to
in spite of
in any case
as a matter of fact
on the contrary
for this reason
on account of
at the same time
for this purpose
Self-Check Questions 1. What are the five different types of cohesive devices? 2. What are the most common classifications of discourse markers? Fill in the Blanks 3. __________ _________ is a word, phrase or clause, which organizes and manages a long message. 4. __________ ________ are tools that are used when speaking and writing in order to make the message meaningful.
Answer True or False 5. Additive discourse markers are words that tell us that we are adding more information. 6. Adversative discourse markers are words that tell us that the next words will give us information that has the same idea as the one just presented. 7. Those words that give us an idea of when the occurrence took place are called causal discourse markers.
15.5 Summing Up In this lesson you were taught some tools that good speakers (and writers) of the English language use to help their audience understand them easily. You learnt the • • • • •
Definition of Cohesive Devices Types of Cohesive Devices Definition of Discourse Markers Functions and Uses of Discourse Markers Classification of Discourse Markers Start paying close attention to the spoken language around you at all times. You will soon identify all the concepts that you have learnt in this lesson. As always, we recommend that you continue to read extensively and participate in conversations in English as much as possible.
15.6 Answers to Self-Check Questions 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Reference, ellipsis, substitution, lexical cohesion and conjunction. Adversative, additive, temporal, causal Cohesive device Discourse markers T F F
15.7 References 1. Ferreira, Linda A. Beginnings 1. United States of America: Newbury House Publishers, Inc.,1985.
2. Gill, Mary McVey, and Pamela Hartmann. Tapestry Listening and Speaking 2. United States of America: Heinle & Heinle Thomson Learning, 2000. 3. Croes, John. Ready? Listen!. San Diego, CA: Dominie Press, Inc., 1991.
15.8 Glossary • • • • •
• • • • • • • • •
Adversative: The information in the second sentence qualifies the information in the first sentence Additive: Word used to present additional information Causal: The relationship highlighted is one of cause and effect Cohesion: The act of pulling together; keeping things together; organization Cohesive Device: a word, phrase or clause, which organizes and manages a long message Communication: Message Cue: prompt; signal; indication Ellipsis: purposely omitting words Generic: general; broad; common Lexical cohesion: The understanding of text which is created by the repetition of a word or by using two words in the text that are related in meaning Reference items: Those items which refer to something or someone, within the framework of the speech Semantic: meaning Substitution: relates to the substitution of words or clauses with a generic word or phrase Temporal (Time Sequence): When the events in the text are related in terms of the time of the occurrence