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Sentence in the text

Sentences in continual speech are not used in isolation; they are interconnected both semanticallytopically and syntactically.
Inter-sentential connections have come under linguistic investigation but recently. The highest lingual
unit which was approached by traditional grammar as liable to syntactic study was the sentence; scholars
even specially stressed that to surpass the boundaries of the sentence was equal to surpassing the
boundaries of grammar.
Such an outstanding linguist as L. Bloomfield, while recognising the general semantic connections
between sentences in the composition of texts as linguistically relevant, at the same time pointed out that
the sentence is the largest grammatically arranged linguistic form, i.e. it is not included into any other
linguistic form by a grammatical arrangement.*
However, further studies in this field have demonstrated the inadequacy of the cited thesis. It has been
shown that sentences in speech do come under broad grammatical arrangements, do combine with one
another on strictly syntactic lines in the formation of larger stretches of both oral talk and written text.
It is important to emphasise that, supporting the principle of syntactic approach to arrangement of
sentences into a continual text, one should not assert that any sequence of independent sentences forms a
syntactic unity. Generally speaking, sentences in a stretch of uninterrupted talk may or may not build up a
coherent sequence, wholly depending on the purpose of the speaker. E.g.:
Kate, you go there and check that everything is right. Michael, you stay here and arrange everything.
The cited sequence of two sentences does not form a unity in either syntactic or semantic sense, the
sentences being addressed to different persons on different reasons.
A disconnected sequence may also have one and the same communication addressee, as in the
following case:
Duchess of Berwic... I like him so much. I am quite delighted he's gone! (e.g. he is such a bore) How
sweet you're looking! Where do you get your gowns? (The colour suits you very much) And now I must tell
you how sorry I am for you, dear Margaret (I know what you’ve been through) (O. Wilde).
Disconnected sequences like these are rather an exception than the rule. Moreover, they do not
contradict the idea of a continual topical text as being formed of grammatically interconnected sentences.
Indeed, successive sentences in a disconnected sequence mark the corresponding transitions of thought,
so each of them can potentially be expanded into a connected sequence focussing on the same topic.
As we see, the general idea of a sequence of sentences forming a text includes two different notions.
1) It presupposes a succession of spoken or written utterances irrespective of their forming or not
forming a coherent semantic complex.
2) It implies a strictly topical stretch of talk, i.e. a continual succession of sentences centering on a
common informative purpose. It is this latter understanding of the text that is syntactically
relevant. In this latter sense the text can be interpreted as a lingual element with its two
distinguishing features: first, semantic (topical) unity, second, semantico-syntactic cohesion.
Classification of sentence sequences:
The primary division of sentence sequences in speech should be based on the communicative
direction of their component sentences. From this point of view monologue sequences and dialogue
sequences are to be discriminated.
In a monologue, sentences connected in a continual sequence are directed from one speaker to his one
or several listeners. Thus, the sequence of this type can be characterised as a one-direction sequence.
The first scholars who identified a succession of such sentences as a special syntactic unit were the
Russian linguists N. S. Pospelov and L. A. Bulakhovsky. The former called the unit in question a
"complex syntactic unity", the latter, a "super-phrasal unity". Blokh uses the term "supra-sentential
As different from this, sentences in a dialogue sequence are uttered by the speakers-interlocutors in
turn, so that they are directed to meet one another; the sequence of this type, then, should be characterised
as a two-direction sequence.
The formation of a one-direction sequence is based on syntactic cumulation of sentences, as different
from syntactic composition of sentences making them into one composite sentence.
So the supra-sentential construction of one-direction communicative type can be called a cumulative
sequence, or a "cumuleme".
The formation of a two-direction sequence is based on its sentences being positioned to meet one
another. Hence, we propose to call this type of sentence-connection by the term "occursive", and the
supra-sentential construction based on occursive connection, by the term "occurseme".
From the hierarchical point of view the occurseme as an element of the system occupies a place
above the cumuleme. The cumuleme is constructed by two or more sentences joined by cumulation, the
occurseme can be constructed by two or more cumulemes, since the utterances of the interlocutors can
be formed not only by separate sentences, but by cumulative sequences. E.g:
"Damn you, stop talking about my wife. If you mention her name again I swear I'll knock you
down." — "Oh no, you won't. You're too great a gentleman to hit a feller smaller than yourself" (S.
In formal terms of the segmental lingual hierarchy the supra-proposemic level can be divided into two
sublevels: the lower one — "cumulemic", and the higher one — "occursemic". Occurseme, as different
from the cumuleme, forms part of a conversation, i.e. is essentially produced not by one, but by two or
several speakers, or, linguistically, not by one, but by two or several individual sub-lingual systems
working in an intercourse contact.
As for the functional characteristic of the two higher segmental units of language, it is representative
of the function of the text as a whole. The signemic essence of the text is exposed in its topic.
The monologue text, or "discourse", is then a topical entity; the dialogue text, or "conversation", is an
exchange-topical entity. The cumuleme and occurseme are component units of these two types of texts,
which means that they form, respectively, subtopical and exchange-sub-topical units.
Sentences in a cumulative sequence can be connected either "prospectively" or "retrospectively".
Prospective ("epiphoric", "cataphoric") cumulation is effected by connective elements that relate a
given sentence to one that is to follow it. In other words, a prospective connector signals a continuation of
speech: the sentence containing it is semantically incomplete. Very often prospective connectors are
notional words that perform the cumulative function for the nonce. E.g.:
I tell you, one of two things must happen. Either out of that darkness some new creation will come to
supplant us as we have supplanted the animals, or the heavens will fall in thunder and destroy us (B.
The prospective connection is especially characteristic of the texts of scientific and technical works.
Let me add a word of caution here. The solvent vapour drain enclosure must be correctly engineered
and constructed to avoid the possibility of a serious explosion (From a technical journal).
As different from prospective cumulation, retrospective (or "anaphoric") cumulation is effected by
connective elements that relate a given sentence to the one that precedes it and is semantically complete
by itself. Retrospective cumulation is the more important type of sentence connection of the two; it is the
basic type of cumulation in ordinary speech. E.g.:
What curious "class" sensation was this? Or was it merely fellow-feeling with the hunted, a tremor at
the way things found one out? (J. Galsworthy).
A cumuleme (cumulative supra-sentential construction) is formed by two or more independent
sentences making up a topical syntactic unity. The first of the sentences in a cumuleme is its "leading"
sentence, the succeeding sentences are "sequential".
The cumuleme is delimited in the text by a finalising intonation with a prolonged pause (cumulemepause).
The cumuleme, like a sentence, is a universal unit of language. It is used in all the functional varieties
of speech: work of fiction, article, scientific-technical report prose, poetical text.
But the most important factor showing the universal status of the cumuleme in language is the
indispensable use of cumulemes in colloquial speech (which is reflected in plays, in conversational
passages in works of various types of fiction).
The basic semantic types of cumulemes are "factual" (narrative and descriptive), "modal" (reasoning,
perceptive, etc.), and mixed. Here is an example of a narrative cumuleme:
Three years later, when Jane was an Army driver, she was sent one night to pick up a party of officers
who had been testing defences on the cliff. She found the place where the road ran between a cleft almost
to the beach, switched off her engine and waited, hunched in her great-coat, half asleep, in the cold black
silence. She waited for an hour and woke in a fright to a furious voice coming out of the night (M.
Compare this with modal cumulemes of various topical standings:
She has not gone? I thought she gave a second performance at two? (S. Maugham) (A reasoning
cumuleme of perceptional variety)
Are you kidding? Don't underrate your influence, Mr. O'Keefe. Dodo's in. Besides, I've lined up
Sandra Straughan to work with her (A. Hailey). (A remonstrative cumuleme)
Don't worry. There will be a certain amount of unpleasantness but I will have some photographs taken
that will be very useful at the inquest. There's the testimony of the gunbearers and the driver too. You're
perfectly all right (E. Hemingway). (A reasoning cumuleme expressing reassurance) Etc.
Cumuleme in writing is regularly expressed by a paragraph, but the two units are not wholly identical.
In the first place, the paragraph is a stretch of written or typed literary text delimited by a new
(indented) line at the beginning and an incomplete line at the close. As different from this, the cumuleme
is essentially a feature of all the varieties of speech, both oral and written, both literary and colloquial.
In the second place, the paragraph is a polyfunctional unit of written speech: it is used not only for the
written representation of a cumuleme, but also for the introduction of utterances of a dialogue (dividing
an occurseme into parts).
In the third place, the paragraph in a monologue speech can contain more than one cumuleme. For
instance, the following paragraph is divided into three parts, the first formed by a separate sentence, the
second and third ones presenting cumulemes.
When he had left the house Victorina stood quite still, with hands pressed against her chest. // She had
slept less than he. Still as a mouse, she had turned the thought: "Did I take him in? Did I?" And if not —
what? // She took out the notes which had bought — or sold — their happiness, and counted them once
more. And the sense of injustice burned within her (J. Galsworthy).
The shown division is sustained by the succession of the forms of the verbs, namely, the past
indefinite and past perfect, precisely marking out the events described.
In the fourth place, the paragraph in a monologue speech can contain only one sentence. The regular
function of the one-sentence paragraph is expressive emphasis. E.g.:
The fascists may spread over the land, blasting their way with weight of metal brought from other
countries. They may advance aided by traitors and by cowards. They may destroy cities and villages and
try to hold the people in slavery. But you cannot hold any people in slavery.
The Spanish people will rise again as they have always risen before against tyranny (E. Hemingway).
In the cited passage the sentence-paragraph marks a transition from the general to the particular, and by
its very isolation in the text expressively stresses the author's belief in the invincible will of the Spanish
people who are certain to smash their fascist oppressors in the long run.
So the paragraph is a literary-compositional, not a purely syntactic unit of the text. It presents a
cumuleme; the two units are not identical, but closely correlative.
Neither cumulemes, nor paragraphs form the upper limit of textual units of speech. Paragraphs are
connected within the framework of larger elements of texts making up different paragraph groupings.
Thus, above the process of cumulation as syntactic connection of separate sentences, supra-cumulation
should be discriminated as connection of cumulemes and paragraphs into larger textual unities of the
correspondingly higher subtopical status.