Intuitively all users of language understand whether a unit of discourse is cohesive, whether it makes sense. Markels seeks to “formalize some of this innate knowledge about discourse by describing some of the textual cues that contribute to cohesion in particular types of English paragraphs.”
Focusing on expository paragraphs, she investigates the “semantic relations among nouns necessary to create noun chains and the syntactic information necessary to invest those chains with cohesion.” Other researchers have investigated cohesion only as a semantic phenomenon, but by pursuing this new approach, Markels gives equal weight to syntax. She points out that “while noun chains establish semantic consistency only the interaction of those chains with syntactic information that thematizes them can create cohesion.”
Markels identifies and describes four common patterns through which paragraphs achieve cohesion or unity. In describing these cohesion patterns, she also identifies paragraph structures based on semantic and syntactic relationships that produce cohesion.
About the Author
Robin Bell Markels teaches English at Ohio State University and is an invited member of the National Conference on Research in English.