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The first section deals with the connections evident in the discourse, with cohesion. Michael Halliday and Ruquaiya hassan (1976), who were already introduced in section 3.6, were the first to analyze this kind of discourse connection. They distinguished five types of cohesion:

a.       Substitution

b.      Ellipsis

c.       Reference

d.      Conjunction

e.       Lexical cohesion

In the five main types of cohesion, the interpretation of a discourse element is dependent on another element that can be pointed out in discourse. For instance, the correct interpretation of the word “speed” is only possible by reading the preceding sentence within which the word “scurried” is of primary importance.

Referential Elements

A special type of referential cohesion results from the use of pronouns. Back-referential pronouns, such as the pronoun “John said that he was not going to school” are called anaphora. The term is derived from a Greek word which means “to lift up” or “to bring back”. Forward referential pronouns, such as the one “When he came in John tripped over the blocks” are called cataphora


In the research done into (meaning-bearing) discourse relations, two basic types are distinguished: the additive relation and the causal relation. The additive relation can be traced back to a conjunction and as such is related to various types of coordination.

Rhetorical  Structure Theory

One of the best known proposals is the Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) by William Mann and Sandra Thompson. This theory, developed in the 1980s, considers a discourse to be a hierarchical organization of text segments.

Discourse Relation Research

One major criticism is the fact that the set of relations in RST is purely descriptive, not doing justice to the differences between specific relations, but throwing them all on two heaps. Sanders et al (1992) have argued that a set of discourse relations must not only be descriptively adequate, but also be psychologically plausible. Beside that, he propose a classification based on the assumption that discourse relations are ordered in the human mind by four fundamental ordering principles which they call “primitives”:

Sanders et al.’s four primitives:

1.      Basic operation

2.      Source of coherence

3.      Order of segments

4.      Polarity

The four primitives can be combined in order to obtain twelve classes of discourse relations. The set of relations can then be organized in terms of its own “meaning characteristics”: when a relation contains causality, it belongs to a different group than a relation that is not a causal.

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