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Marked theme and intonation's role in achieving topical coherence in spoken discourse in English

Elias, Nadia 2018. Marked theme and intonation's role in achieving topical coherence in spoken discourse in English. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The present study focuses on the negotiation of "topical coherence" (Geluykkens, 1999). Using a Map Task, it investigates how the interaction between 'Thematic Structure': Theme and Rheme and 'Information Structure': Given and New (Halliday and Matthiessen, 2014; Halliday, 1967a, b) achieves coherence in informal English discourse. The starting point for investigation of topical coherence is the idea that Theme and Given coincide in unmarked cases. The study examines instances where the two systems do not coincide and examines the meanings that are generated through this divergence in order to reveal what effect this divergence has on the spoken interaction. Marked Themes by being usually realised in their own tone groups are information units with information foci and thus informationally foregrounded (Tench, 1996). The focus of information will fall on the Theme as well as on the Rheme. The study examines what role the intonational realisations of the marked Theme, tonicity, tonality and key system will have in structuring map task interactions and in facilitating the successful completion of a map task. Data gleaned from map task shows that marked Theme aids the interlocutors in their negotiation as it is used to foreground previously mentioned information (e.g. a landmark or location on the map) by taking it as point of departure to more easily guide the hearers to the intended location. The data shows also that the previously mentioned information within the marked Theme is made tonic, projected as if it were New and marked Theme is presented as an information unit, in separate tone group, to attract hearers’ attention to the importance of the information within the marked Theme. Therefore, the interaction between word order and intonation contributes to guiding the hearers more easily to the intended location. The data also shows that there is an interaction between key and marked Theme. Marked Theme is uttered on high key in contexts that demand the projection of particular information within the marked Theme to draw hearers’ attention to the exact location on the map and on mid key to denote the addition of information and to confirm and clarify the details. The information uttered on high key within the marked Theme is previously introduced information (i.e. recoverable). It is concluded that marked Theme aids the interlocutors of the map task in their interaction about the route and contributes to achieving a coherent interaction on the topic of the map task, the route.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 February 2019
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2021 09:41

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