Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Misconstruing 'Cohesion Within The Sentence'

Martin (1992: 19):
Halliday and Hasan do recognise that "cohesion within the sentence need not be regarded essentially as distinct phenomena" (1976: 9), but argue that in the description of a text "it is the intersentence cohesion that is significant, because that represents the variable aspect of cohesion, distinguishing one text from another" (1976: 9).  In a sense, the line they draw between cohesion and grammar is justified descriptively rather than theoretically.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here Martin misinterprets the line between 'cohesion within the sentence' and 'intersentence cohesion' as the line between cohesion and grammar.  Both uses of cohesion are cohesion, the non-structural component of the textual metafunction, and cohesion is located on the lexicogrammatical stratum.

[2] The distinction between 'cohesion within the sentence' and 'intersentence cohesion' is thus not a descriptive justification of a distinction between grammar and cohesion.  The reason Halliday and Hasan focus on 'intersentence cohesion' for the description of a text is that this is most relevant for comparing texts in terms of (as instances of) register.  The quote from Halliday and Hasan (1976: 23) that Martin provides (op cit: 28) makes this clear:
The concept of COHESION can therefore be usefully supplemented by that of REGISTER, since the two together effectively define a TEXT.