1974. Uppsala - Going beyond the Sentence

By C. George SANDULESCU, Stockholm.

(A talk given on Thursday 12 December 1974 within the Department of General Linguistics of the University of Uppsala.)


            Vigorously emerging outside mainstream linguistics, the two subdisciplines of Text Linguistics TL and Discourse Analysis DA have many points in common. In addition to sharing identical theoretical constructs, like text/discourse, they have many similar (if not identical) areas of investigation.

            The lecture focuses on a few controversial issues which, if solved in one particular way, might place Discourse at least on a par with Sentence as regards centrality within the theory.

            The following three types of sources lie at the basis of many of the statements: (a) recent research published in Europe and the United States (See Bibliographical References, for a tip of the iceberg);  (b) so far unpublished Conference Proceedings ( Birmingham 1974,  Milan 1974, Hasselt (Belgium) 1974, Stuttgart 1974); (c) personal conversations with Roman Jakobson on boundary problems in linguistics, the prospects of discourse/text research, the status of poetics etc.

                                    Tentative Bibliographical References

Roman JAKOBON 1973. Main Trends in the Science of Language. London.

Janos PETÖFI et al, eds 1973.   Studies in Text Grammar.

William O. HENDRICKS 1967.  'On the Notion "Beyond the Sentence" ', in: Linguistics, No. 37, pp.12-51.

Wolfgang DRESSLER 1970, 'Towards a Semantic Deep Structure of Discourse Grammar, illustrated from various Indo-European languages', in: Papers, 6th Meeting, Chicago Linguistic Society, 1970, pp. 202-209.

Charles FILLMORE 1973, 'May we come in ?', in: Semiotica, 11, 2, 97-116. 



(1)        (Mary lies in hospital.) (Mary was badly wounded in a car crash yesterday.)

(2)        (a) (Mary lies in hospital.)  (b1) (It is all a great mess.)

                                                     (b2)(It was all a great mess.)

(3)        (a) (Mary said something.) (b1)(John did not understand her.)

                                                      (b2)(John did not understand it.)

(4)        (a) (John buried his father yesterday.)

                                                    (b1)(Strindberg is a great Swedish writer.)

                                                    (b2)(Strindberg was a great Swedish writer.)

                                                    (b3)(Strindberg had been a great Swedish writer.)

                                                    (b4)(Cervantes had been a great Swedish writer.)

                                                    (b5)(He had been a great Swedish writer.)

(5)        (George bought a car yesterday.) (The car is very expensive.)

(6)        (The car is very expensive.) (George bought a car yesterday.)

(7)        (A car is very expensive.) (George bought a car yesterday.)

(8)        (Yesterday George bought a car that was very expensive.)   

(9)        (a) (Mary bought a book last week.)

                                        (b1)(The book is about crocodiles and alligators.)

                                        (b2)(A book is about crocodiles and alligators.)

(10)        (Mary bought a book last week.)

                                        (b1)(I also bought a book.)

                                        (b2)(I also bought the book.)

(11)        (John did not buy a book yesterday.) (He gave it to his sister.)

(12)        (a) (Peter is looking for a secretary to type his novels.)

                                        (b1)(The secretary seems to be very pretty.)

                                        (b2)(The secretary is very pretty.)

(13)        (Peter came in.) (Wendy smiled at Peter.)

(14)        (Wendy smiled at Peter.) (Peter came in.)

(15)        (Wendy smiled at Peter when he came in.)

            (Wendy smiled at him when Peter came in.) (Him may not refer to Peter)    

(16)         (Peter does not like coffee.)(John, however, does not like him either.)

(17)        (Peter does not like the Prime Minister.) (John does not like it either.)

(18)        (a) (The statue in the park of that village has been damaged by a tornado.)
                           dH1            dH2            dH3                                       dH4

                (b1)    (It could however easily be restored to its original state.)    [dH1]

                (b2)    (The Council therefore decided to close it to the public.)    [dH2]

                (b3)    (It was by great good fortune that its houses were saved.)    [dH3]

                (b4)    (In other villages it caused much more damage than that.)    [dH4]

(19)        (He planned to go to Italy this summer.) (She also planned to go to France this summer.)

(20)        (The old woman was buried in her native village.) (She is dying of a virulent pneumonia.)

(21)    (Peter will write an article for our review.)(It was published in a special issue.)

(22)        (Please try to come to Paris.) (I am sure you forgot to do so.)

(23)        (Harry has never been to Rome.) (He spent his holidays there last year.)

(24)        (The whole afternoon Peter worked on his new book.) (He lit a cigarette.)

SECTION TWO:    Structuring Exchanges between Person A and Person B:

(X.25)                (A)    (I speak English.)
                            (B)    (So do I.)

(X.26)                (A)    (Have you spoken to the doctor ?)
                            (B)    (Yes, I have.)

(X.27)                (A)    (Have they delivered the furniture ?)
                            (B)    (They have done the desks, but that's all.)

(X.28)                (A)    (Do you take milk ?)
                            (B)    (Thank you, I've had one.)

(X.29)                (A)    (Those who predicted a dry summer were disappointed.)
                            (B)    (I can't understand this passion for altering our spelling.)

                                    'Narrative Analysis: Oral versions of Personal Experience.'

Interview No. 5:                                                    BASIC TEXT

(Were you ever in a situation where you were in serious danger of being killed ?)


(What happened ?)

I don't really like to talk about it.

(Well, tell me as much about it as you can.)

Well, this person had a little too much to drink, and he attacked me, and the friend came in, and she stopped it.

In Narrative 5, there are four independent clauses:

(5)    (a) (Well, this person had a little too much to drink)  PARAPHRASE ONE       
            (b)    (and he attacked me)
            (c)    (and the friend came in)
            (d)    (and she stopped it.)

(5')       (c)    (A friend of mine came in)                    PARAPHRASE TWO
            (d)    (just in time to stop)
            (a)    (this person who had a little too much to drink)
            (b)    (from attacking me.)

(5 ' ')    (d)    (A friend of mine stopped the attack.)    PARAPHRASE THREE
            (c)    (She had just come in.)
            (b)    (This person was attacking me.)
            (a)    (He had a little too much to drink.)

SECTION FOUR:        FILLMORE (1973) 'May We Come In ?'

(1)        (SAPIR 1921)                         (The farmer killed the duckling.)

(2)        (KATZ & FODOR 1963)        (The bill is large.)

(3)        (BAR-HILLEL 1960)               (a)    (The box is in the pen.)

                                                            (b)   (The ink is in the pen.)

(4)        (CHOMSKY 1965)                  (a)    (Sincerity may frighten the boy.)

                                                            (b)    (Howard may frighten the boy.)

                                                            (c)    (Felicity may frighten the boy.)

                                                            (d)    (Charity Cooper may frighten the boy.)

(5)        (FILLMORE 1973)                  (May we come in ?)

(6)                                                        (A) (May we come in ?)
                                                            (B) (Okay.)

(7)                                                        (A) (I did a good job.)
                                                            (B) (No, you didn't.)

(8)                                                        (a)    (A) (Did we make a mistake ?)
                                                                    (B) (Yes, we did.)

                                                            (b)    (A) (Did we make a mistake ?)
                                                                    (B) (Yes, you did.)

(9)        (May we understand your proposal ?)        ZERO ACCEPTABILITY !

(10)      (May we succeed on this project ?)            ZERO ACCEPTABILITY !  

(11)      (May we swim in ?)

(12)      X        COME        TO        Y        AT        T  

(13)      (I        came            there                yesterday morning.)  

(14)      (A)    (May we come in ?)

            (B1)    (It's apparent to me, gentlemen, that you are already in.)

            (B2)    (Don't you mean to say that you want to come out ?)

            (B3)    (Yoohoo, here I am. Go right in.) 

            (B4)    (Why ask me ?)

            (B5)    (Of course; why do you ask ?)

            (B6)    (Okay.)

            (B7)    (Yes, you may.)

            (B8)    (Yes, please do !)

            (B9)    (By all means, come in !)

(15)    (Prison WARDEN to PRISONER at cell door)    (May we come in ?)
          (PRISONER from inside cell to Prison WARDEN outside cell) (_________)

(16)    ((A) (I would like to enter the place where you are, and I am asking you
                        to give me permission to do that.)

            (B) (I hereby grant you the permission that you requested.)