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                            Lexical Cohesion and Corpus Linguistics
Editorial page
Title page
LCC data
Table of contents
Lexical cohesion and rhetorical structure
Lexical bundles and discourse signalling in academic lectures
Cohesive chains and speakers’ choice of prominence
Describing the extended meanings of lexical cohesion in a corpus of SARS spoken discourse
Use of signalling nouns in a learner corpus
Lexical cohesion
The series Benjamins Current Topics (BCT)
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Lexical Cohesion and Corpus Linguistics

Page 66

Cohesive chains and speakers’ choice of prominence ��

describes the prevalence of pitch concord, whereby the choice of pitch at the end
of one speaker’s utterance is echoed by the next speaker at the start of his/her ut-
terance. Also, Couper-Kuhlen and Selting (1996:46) describe the exploitation by
speakers of pitch, timing and rhythm between speakers to either converge or di-
verge to indicate their orientation to the other participants.

�. Conclusions and pedagogical implications

In this study, a specific discourse type, job placement interviews, was examined,
and since the corpus used has been prosodically transcribed, it proved possible to
conduct an investigation into the relation between lexical and non-lexical cohe-
sion and the communicative role of prominence, a system within discourse in-
tonation (Brazil 1997). Several preliminary conclusions are drawn. First, lexical
words are more likely to attract prominence than non-lexical words; the opposite
was the case when speakers choose to use non-lexical words in a cohesive chain,
and, importantly, this suggests that speakers do not randomly select lexical or
non-lexical words in a lexical chain. Speakers may be guided in their choice be-
tween lexical and grammatical words, at least in part, by the decisions they make
at the same time within the system of prominence in discourse intonation in terms
of determining what is situationally informative at that point in the discourse. In
addition to this observation, it was found that, while the lexical word being made
prominent is a pattern widely found in the cohesive chains, in certain contexts
of interaction the pattern may be reversed by speakers, and so lexical words are
made non-prominent and non-lexical words made prominent in a chain. This fur-
ther supports the view that prominence is not an inherent property of words, but
subject to context-specific speaker choices. Another conclusion is that when two
speakers choose prominence differently, in the sense of selecting different syllables
in the same lexical word, or a different word in a fixed combination of words, as
prominent, there is a tendency towards converging and adopting the same prac-
tice, although it is found that such convergence might be delayed, or withheld,
when the speakers disagree in terms of the subject under discussion.

Another conclusion is concerned with our understanding about how promi-
nence is allocated to a word by a speaker. Instead of only focusing on a speaker’s
choice of prominence in distinct lexical or non-lexical words, the study analyses
prominence choices in lexical or non-lexical words in a cohesive chain, and has
found a connection between a speaker’s choice of a lexical word in a cohesive chain
and his/her perception of situational informativeness at the moment of speaking,
which can explain the reason for these patterns. This conclusion also constitutes

Page 67

60 Martin Warren

a partial answer to Hoey’s (1991:17) question: ‘under what circumstances do we
use one (cohesive device) rather than the other?’ A speaker’s choice of prominence
is not determined by the word class, i.e. lexical or grammatical words, but by the
speaker’s decision to project what is more important or relevant in a particular
context of interaction, which then impacts the choice of prominence and the
choice of a lexical or a grammatical word.

Finally, this study has dealt with the interactional aspect of lexical cohesion by
examining speakers taking turns and managing the interaction. It shows the way
in which the speakers negotiate meanings through their choice of words and their
decisions about making certain words prominent and others non-prominent ‘in a
systematic and patterned way for interactive purposes’ (McCarthy 1988:181–182).

The findings in this study have potentially important implications for English
language learning and teaching. Currently in the upper secondary schools in Hong
Kong at least, discourse intonation has yet to be given attention in the teaching
materials, despite studies that have advocated or investigated this area, including
Brazil, Coulthard and Johns (1980), Hewings (1986), McCarthy (1988), Cauldwell
(2002), Cheng (2004a, 2004b, 2004c), Cheng and Warren (2003), Warren (2004),
Cheng, Greaves and Warren (2005), let alone the role played by speakers’ intona-
tion choices as they navigate between lexical and non-lexical words in cohesive
chains. The study of discourse intonation should become a staple part of English
learning and teaching, especially to intermediate and advanced students. Corpora
such as the one examined in this paper could well serve as the basis for learning
and teaching materials and offer learners the opportunity for both the quantitative
and qualitative study of discourse intonation in real world contexts.

Transcription conventions

Tone unit boundaries: //
A very slight pause: (.)
Prominence: upper case letters
Speaker identification: female indicated by A and a; male by B and b; Hong Kong Chinese indi-
cated by lower case letters and native English speakers by upper case letters


The work described in this paper was substantially supported by grants from the Research
Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Project No. A-PF50). I am
grateful for the helpful comments of the editors and two anonymous reviewers on earlier ver-
sions of this paper.

Page 131

124 Index

logical structure ��
Longman Spoken and Writ-

ten English Corpus ��

metaphorical expression ��
Michigan Corpus of

Academic Spoken English

monologue ��, ��

newspaper headline �, �
non-lexical cohesion ��, ��,

��, ��
nucleus �

�oral� lexical bundle ��, ��, ��

Papers�� �
peroration ��
polysemous word ��
prepositional phrase ��, ��,

��, ��
priming ��
problem-solution pattern ���
prominence �����, �����,


public discourse ��

qualitative approach �, ��
quantitative approach ��

reference �, ��, �����, ��, ���
reiteration �, ��, ���
relexicalisation ��
repetition �, ��, ��, ���, ���,

���, ���
result/inference ��, ��, ��, ��
rhetorical device ��
rhetorical e
ect �
rhetorical function �
rhetorical movement �
rhetorical prosody ��

satellite �
semantic �eld �, �
semantic preference ��, ��,

��, ��, �����, �������, ���
semantic prosody ��, ��, ��,

�����, �����, �����, ���,
�������, ���

sentence initial ��
set phrase ��

simple paraphrase ���

specialised corpus ��, ��,
��, ��, ��

stance ��, ��
Straw man, Man of straw ��
string ��, ��
string length ��
structuring ��
stylistic variation ��
sub-head �
summation/conclusion ��,

��, �����

thematic position ��
TOEFL ���� Spoken and

Written Academic
Language Corpus (T�K
SWAL) ��, ��

topic introduction/focus �����
transition ��, ��, �����

vocabulary � ���

WebCorp ���
writer�s commitment ��

Page 132

In the series Benjamins Current Topics (BCT) the following titles have been published thus far
or are scheduled for publication:

17 Flowerdew, John and Michaela Mahlberg (eds.): Lexical Cohesion and Corpus Linguistics. 2009.
vi, 124 pp.

16 dror, Itiel e. and Stevan harnad (eds.): Cognition Distributed. How cognitive technology extends our
minds. 2008. xiii, 258 pp.

15 Stekeler-weIthoFer, Pirmin (ed.): The Pragmatics of Making it Explicit. 2008. viii, 237 pp.
14 baker, anne and bencie woll (eds.): Sign Language Acquisition. 2008. xi, 163 pp. + index.
13 abry, Christian, anne VIlaIn and Jean-luc SChwartz (eds.): Vocalize to Localize. ca. 320 pp.

Expected Forthcoming
12 dror, Itiel e. (ed.): Cognitive Technologies and the Pragmatics of Cognition. 2007. xii, 186 pp.
11 Payne, Thomas e. and david J. weber (eds.): Perspectives on Grammar Writing. 2007. viii, 218 pp.
10 lIebal, katja, Cornelia Müller and Simone PIka (eds.): Gestural Communication in Nonhuman and

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9 PöChhaCker, Franz and Miriam ShleSInger (eds.): Healthcare Interpreting. Discourse and

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8 teubert, wolfgang (ed.): Text Corpora and Multilingual Lexicography. 2007. x, 162 pp.
7 Penke, Martina and anette roSenbaCh (eds.): What Counts as Evidence in Linguistics. The case of

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6 baMberg, Michael (ed.): Narrative – State of the Art. 2007. vi, 271 pp.
5 anthonISSen, Christine and Jan bloMMaert (eds.): Discourse and Human Rights Violations. 2007.

x, 142 pp.
4 hauF, Petra and Friedrich FörSterlIng (eds.): Making Minds. The shaping of human minds through

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3 ChoulIarakI, lilie (ed.): The Soft Power of War. 2007. x, 148 pp.
2 Ibekwe-SanJuan, Fidelia, anne CondaMIneS and M. teresa Cabré CaStellVí (eds.):

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1 neValaInen, terttu and Sanna-kaisa tanSkanen (eds.): Letter Writing. 2007. viii, 160 pp.

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