Modes of Discourse

In studying discourse, the problem for the linguist is to find a fruitful level of analysis. Carlota Smith offers a new approach with this study of discourse passages, units of several sentences or more. She introduces the key idea of the ‘Discourse Mode’, identifying five modes: Narrative, Description, Report, Information, Argument. These are realized at the level of the passage, and cut across genre lines. Smith shows that the modes, intuitively recognizable as distinct, have linguistic correlates that differentiate them. She analyzes the properties that distinguish each mode, focusing on grammatical rather than lexical information. The book also examines linguistically-based features that appear in passages of all five modes: topic and focus, variation in syntactic structure, and subjectivity, or point of view. Operating at the interface of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics, the book will appeal to researchers and graduate students in linguistics, stylistics and rhetoric.

• Proposes the Discourse Mode as a significant linguistic unit • The analysis is information-based, focusing on grammatical rather than lexical information • The author is well known to linguists for her work on aspect and point of view


Preface; Introduction; Part I. Discourse Structure: 1. Introduction to the discourse modes; 2. Discourse modes; 3. Text representation and understanding; Part II. Linguistic Analysis of the Discourse Modes: 4. Aspectual information: the entities introduced in discourse; 5. Temporal and spatial progression; 6. Referring expressions in discourse; Part III. Surface Presentational Factors: Introduction to Part III; 7. Subjectivity in texts; 8. The contribution of surface presentation; 9. Non-canonical structures and presentation; Part IV. Discourse Modes and their Context: 10. Information in text passages; 11. Discourse structure and discourse modes; Appendix A: The Texts; Appendix B: Glossary.